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In Chapter 14, Okonkwo returns in disgrace to his mother's kinsmen with his wives and children. He is accepted by Uchendu, the wise patriarch of the family, and, after the requisite sacrifices have been offered, he is given a plot of ground on which to build his huts, and some land to farm. Each of Uchendu's sons also give him seed-yams to plant. Soon the rains come, a welcome respite after a long period of drought. The earth comes to life, and the people are "happy, refreshed, and thankful."
Okonkwo, like the others, works hard on his fields, but his work brings him no joy. When there is nothing to do he sits around lethargically, essentially cursing his fate and feeling sorry for himself. Uchendu sees this, and resolves to talk to Okonkwo. First, however, his youngest son is about to be married, and the "final ceremony of confession" must be performed. In this ceremony, the bride-to-be sits in the center of a circle of her betrothed's family, holding a hen in her right hand. She is then asked how many men she has lain with since being engaged, and she must answer truthfully, or great calamity will befall her. The young woman answers that she has been with no man, and when she swears that her words are true, the hen is killed and she becomes a bride. The next day, with his son happily married, Uchendu calls Okonkwo and the men of the tribe to a meeting. Uchendu asks Okonkwo why it is said that "Mother is Supreme" and why a woman is returned to her own kinsmen when she dies. When Okonkwo and the others cannot answer, he explains that "a man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet," but when things are hard, "he finds refuge in his motherland." Uchendu then chides Okonkwo for allowing his sorrow to weigh him down and refusing to be comforted by his mother's kinsmen. He points out that everyone suffers, and tells Okonkwo to stop feeling sorry for himself.
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