When the cow escapes in Things Fall Apart, whose responsibility is it to get it back?

When the cow escapes in Things Fall Apart, it is the responsibility of the women to get it back.

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A cow escapes as the women are preparing food for the uri of Obierika's daughter. A uri is a celebration of an upcoming marriage in which a woman's fiancé brings palm wine to his future in-laws and the entire village.

When news comes that the cow has escaped, all the women immediately stop what they are doing to run and look for it. However, Chielo, the priestess, says a few women should stay behind so that the food cooking in the fire doesn't burn. Five women stay to cook, but the rest go and retrieve the cow, taking it home to its owner. The activity is profitable, as the owner of a cow that gets loose has to pay a heavy fine in case the animal eats the neighbors' crops.

In this scene, we see the women's culture of the village in action. Everyone knows what needs to be done, and the women organize themselves easily to both tend to the cooking for the uri and to find the stray cow. Afterwards, they assess if any woman was missing or derelict in her duty and share information about whose cow it was. Women do not have a high status in this culture, but they are an important part of what makes it run smoothly.

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