Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, is described as “lazy and improvident” in Things Fall Apart. What are the two pastimes that give him pleasure?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Unoka's two favorite pastimes that gave him the most pleasure were drinking palm wine and playing his flute. Unoka was known throughout Umuofia as a notorious debtor, who was extremely lazy but enjoyed indulging in alcohol and good food. Unoka was also a talented musician and enjoyed playing his flute during the local harvest festivals when the village gathered for their traditional celebration. Achebe writes that the dry season was Unoka's favorite time of year and he would often reminisce about his childhood when he used to fly kites on beautiful days. Despite his reputation as a lazy debtor, Unoka always managed to borrow more money to purchase palm wine and food. It was said that Unoka had a bad chi and he eventually died from swelling in his abdomen, which was considered an abomination to the earth goddess. Unoka was not given a proper funeral and was carried to the Evil Forest to die by himself.

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teachsuccess eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Chapter One, we are told that Unoka enjoyed drinking palm-wine and playing on his flute.

Although Unoka was often in debt when he lived, he often used whatever money he had to purchase gourds of palm wine to make merry with his neighbors. Unoka was a man who believed in enjoying life to the fullest. To that end, he savored the best food and drink his money could buy when he was alive.

He also loved good music, and his happiest moments were spent playing his flute with the village musicians after the yearly harvest. He relished being hired by other villages to play with his egwugwu band and to teach others his tunes. The dry season often saw the end of the rains and the emergence of glorious, sunny days. The first kites would appear then, and children would sing 'songs of welcome' to them. Unoka saw the changing of the seasons as a way to enjoy making more of the music he loved.

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