illustrated portrait of Igbo Nigerian author Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe

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Achebe, Chinua 1930–

See also Chinua Achebe Criticism (Volume 1), and Volumes 3, 5, 7, 26, 127.

Achebe, a Nigerian-born novelist, poet, short story writer, and author of children's books, is considered one of the finest contemporary African writers. In his works Achebe explores traditional tribal values and the cataclysmic cultural changes invoked through the influence of European colonization. Achebe is recognized as a consummate craftsman for his innovative use of language, notably his use of traditional Ibo proverbs given in literal English translation, evoking the clash between the two cultures.

Arthur Ravenscroft

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[Things Fall Apart] is a short and extraordinarily close-knit novel which in fictional terms creates the way of life of an Ibo village community when white missionaries and officials were first penetrating Eastern Nigeria. The highly selective details with which Achebe represents the seasonal festivals and ceremonies, the religion, social customs, and political structure of an Ibo village create the vivid impression of a complex, self-sufficient culture seemingly able to deal in traditional ways with any challenge that nature and human experience might fling at it…. [The] greatest strength of Things Fall Apart is the tragic 'objectivity' with which Achebe handles a dual theme.

There are two main, closely intertwined tragedies—the personal tragedy of Okonkwo, 'one of the greatest men in Umuofia', and the public tragedy of the eclipse of one culture by another. (pp. 8-9)

Things Fall Apart is impressive for the wide range of what it so pithily covers, for the African flavour of scene and language, but above all for the way in which Achebe makes that language the instrument for analyzing tragic experience and profound human issues of very much more than local Nigerian significance….

Superficially No Longer at Ease seems merely to carry the themes of [Things Fall Apart] into the 1950s, but the differences of approach and treatment should warn against pressing the outward resemblances too far. Its austere contemporaneity, its insistence upon the ordinariness of a young man's failure to live up to his untried ideals of conduct, allow for none of the glamour that many readers have found in Things Fall Apart. (p. 18)

No Longer at Ease seems to be too socially satirical to be able to carry off convincingly the tragic effect Achebe gives us reason to think he is striving for. What one misses is the artistically cohesive tension between chief character and setting that occurs in Things Fall Apart. (p. 20)

In Arrow of God there is the same kind of traditionalism expressed through Ibo proverbs as in Things Fall Apart, but the linguistic texture is richer and there is a new dimension in the use of the proverbs. The fuller scale on which the novel is conceived allows for greater elaboration in the descriptions of ceremonies as well as domestic life and personal relations….

In Arrow of God Achebe has clearly returned to the African past with relish and a new confidence in his ability to evoke a way of life with which the legends of his childhood had familiarized him. (p. 30)

A Man of the People is a very different kind of novel—a satirical farce about corrupt politicians cynically exploiting a political system inherited from the departed imperial power. So disillusioned is the exposé that the author would hardly seem to escape a charge of personal cynicism. (pp. 31-2)

A Man of the People is a sparkling piece of satirical virtuosity, yet we feel throughout that deep anger, bitterness and disillusion are never far beneath the surface. The novel prompts one to ask: Is it too savage, too despairing, too Swiftian? Many readers find...

(This entire section contains 557 words.)

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it so, but the skill with which Odili's dual function is controlled and the hints at other criteria of judgement … do pose values other than those of the 'eat-and-let-eat' politicians. (pp. 35-6)

Arthur Ravenscroft, in his Chinua Achebe (© Arthur Ravenscroft 1969; Longman Group Ltd., for the British Council), British Council, 1969.

Gerald Moore

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[Achebe] has recreated for us a way of life which has almost disappeared, and has done so with understanding, with justice and with realism….

Achebe's Things Fall Apart, which appeared in 1958, was the first West African novel in English which could be applauded without reserve. (p. 58)

[Things Fall Apart] is an extremely well-constructed short novel, fully equal to its theme and written with confidence and precision. Achebe's theme is suggested in the Yeatsian title, but although he sees the disintegration of Ibo society as a communal and personal tragedy for those who lived through it, this does not in any way obscure his objectivity in describing that society as it was. (pp. 58-9)

Achebe's brief, almost laconic style, his refusal to justify, explain or condemn, are responsible for a good deal of the book's success. The novelist presents to us a picture of traditional Ibo life as just as he can make it. The final judgement of that life, as of the life which replaced it, is left to us. Only Achebe insists that we should see it as a life actually lived by plausible men and women before we dismiss it, with the usual shrug, as nothing but ignorance, darkness and death. His people win, and deservedly win, our full respect as individuals whose life had dignity, significance and positive values. (p. 59)

In dealing with Iboland sixty or more years ago [as he did in Things Fall Apart], Achebe could at least describe a single society, intact at first, and later only beginning to disintegrate. To write of modern Nigeria means writing of a country in which many different societies are flowing into each other, each at a different level of internal change, each dominated and confused by the presence of western standards and values. To make out of this boiling hotch potch a coherent social context for a novel calls for exceptional qualities of organization and selection. And this is the task which Achebe tackles in his second novel, No Longer at Ease. (pp. 65-6)

With his larger range of characters, and within the space of a very short novel, Achebe does not succeed in touching all of them into life. (p. 68)

No Longer at Ease is bound to create a certain sense of diffuseness and slackness after the austere tragic dignity of Things Fall Apart, a dignity which recalls Conrad, who is in fact one of Chinua Achebe's mentors. The fluid world of Obi Okonkwo [the protagonist of No Longer at Ease] is simply not susceptible of the same classic treatment, and to have captured it at all is an achievement of sympathy and imagination. Achebe measures the decline in the simple contrast of Obi and his grandfather [the protagonist of Things Fall Apart]; the grandson has more humanity, more gentleness, a wider awareness, but he lacks the force and integrity of his ancestor. He measures it also in a certain slackness of language, which compares sadly with the strong, spare certainty of the speeches of Umuofia's vanished elders. (pp. 68-9)

If No Longer at Ease is something less than a tragedy, it is because Achebe does not see Obi Okonkwo as a tragic hero. The pressures that pull and mould him are all pressures making for compromise and accommodation; these are not the stuff of tragedy but of failure and decline. The alien forces that destroyed old Okonkwo were mysterious and inexorable, but still largely external and dramatic. (p. 70)

Gerald Moore, "Chinua Achebe: Nostalgia and Realism," in his Seven African Writers (© Oxford University Press 1962; reprinted by permission of Oxford University Press), revised edition, Oxford University Press, London, 1970.

R. Angogo

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In his two books, Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God, Achebe uses a language I would like to refer to as 'Ibo in English'. Both these books share a rural side setting. They describe a relationship between society and individual. Achebe shows us how important communal life in Ibo was. We are presented with people who when supported by the society continue to live profitable and progressive lives, yet when they act as individuals, they meet with dead ends.

To show that the situation he is describing needs more than one person, Achebe in his two novels employs the style of conversation, which would be termed linguistically as casual-register. The casuality is seen through use of vocabulary that would be well known and recognised by everyone in the Ibo society. The imagery is local. (p. 2)

The adoption of casual conversational style gives the Oral literature taste, to Achebe's work. As a matter of fact, Achebe is recording the History of the Ibo. A lot of values found in the two novels mentioned above cannot be found in the society today….

Sometimes Achebe uses Ibo words with English sentences. Such form of style reminds us again and again that we are reading an Ibo story and that the Ibo vocabulary is not limited in explaining the Ibo Culture. (p. 3)

The ability to shape and mould English to suit character and event and yet still give the impression of an African story is one of the greatest of Achebe's achievements. It puts into the reader a kind of emotive effect, an interest, and a thirst which so to say awakens the reader. (pp. 3-4)

Achebe integrates character and incident through imagery that is tropical. Okonkwo's character is compared to roaring thunder; flamer of fire; as contrasted to Unoka the weakling who dies through ailing and Nwoye who is compared to 'Cold Ash', and a bowl of foo foo could throw him down. The positive abilities of Okonkwo show us the importance the Ibo attached to physical strength. It is through the use of proverb and similes that Achebe develops his theme on this subject. (p. 4)

Arrow of God has taken the same 'Ibo in English' dialogue-like style [as Things Fall Apart]. In fact Achebe's wise invention of the [District Commissioner's] book gives a setting for Arrow of God; because that is when the British Government has taken root in Nigeria and the D.C.'s book is being used for guidance in administration. It can be noted Achebe attaches a lot of importance to dialogue when he is representing a traditional Ibo society. Where dialogue fails, the means of communication is cut and destruction follows. Ezeulu's failure can be traced through the failure of proper dialogue between him and his own people and also between him and the white man. Achebe may be saying that a society that compromises at the expense of their own values leads to destruction. We see this through the destruction of Ezeulu who symbolically stands for the society of Umuoro, since he is their head, by virtue of being the priest of the great snake cult of the village. (p. 5)

Achebe changes style from that of dialogue in the two books to prose narration [in No Longer at Ease]. We find no fault in such a change, because his story and time in history also change. We expect language also to change, because language is very much a human phenomenon and entirely belongs to the shaping of the human beings.

The story takes the form of a flash back. It begins with Obi's conviction and then the rest of the book is the unfolding of the episodes that led to Obi's fate. The nature of the modernity and the urban setting of the story is seen through Achebe's use of pidgin English, which is characteristic of urbanization in West Africa. (p. 7)

In a way, I think what Achebe is emphasizing in the plot of No Longer at Ease is that intellectual insight without moral support to sustain it is not worthy the effort. In suiting language to character and time, I do not have a quarrel with Achebe, but as to the claims that he attained a piece of work equivalent to his novel, I would not say that. I find his protagonist Obi too weak. Achebe does not find strong enough words with which to present Obi. He makes him a weakling in every aspect….

Achebe maintains his use of Ibo Proverbs and Idioms which make the story interesting and moving. Accompanying the urban theme are the English social, political as well as christian axioms and maxims which all together add to Achebe's intelligence and mastery over the English language.

A Man of the People portrays Achebe the satirical-author. In this novel Achebe decides that he has been soft long enough to his people and now he must lash them if a word of mouth has failed. Achebe's use of irony in A Man of the People surpasses that of any other of his books. (p. 8)

Apart from the prose irony, another feature that Achebe employs in No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People is pidgin English. This is proper because pidgin is the lingua franca of the urbanized West Africans as contrasted with pure Ibo that Achebe uses in Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God. Achebe lets the pidgin suit the characters and the situation….

All the four novels of Achebe are full of proverbs and similes. Each of the proverbs is always said at an appropriate time to explain a situation. Achebe has been described as an author who has the talent of knowing where things are supposed to be and placing them there. Achebe uses proverbs to sound, reiterate or clarify a situation that he is describing. (p. 10)

All the proverbs have African environment and imagery. They not only symbolise the vitality of the Ibo life, but also the heroism of Achebe the translator. Achebe has the ability to create a sense of real life, real issues of the Ibo society in an impressive turn of English. He lets his words speak…. All in all, Achebe's manipulation of English language to suit situations he is describing raises him far above other African writers. By use of idioms, proverbs, emotive words, action, he manages to put vividness and memorable drama into his writing…. Achebe takes an account of interlingual differences of syntax and idiom; of the functions of style and theme and the emotions and ideas and associations which the Ibo would have. (pp. 13-14)

R. Angogo, "Achebe and the English Language," in Busara, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1975, pp. 1-14.

Philip Rogers

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In Chinua Achebe's view, the African writer of our time must be accountable to his society…. To Achebe, it is 'simply madness' to think of art as pure and autonomous, happening by itself in an aesthetic void…. Each of Achebe's four novels has had an obvious (but never obtrusive) purpose. Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God both aim to show that the African past 'with all its imperfections—was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans, acting on God's behalf, delivered [Africans]'. The public problems of bribery and the osu caste are examined in No Longer at Ease; A Man of the People, his most purposeful novel, was written with the deliberate aim of providing 'a serious warning to the Nigerian people' about corruption in government and the cynicism of the masses…. Written during and shortly after the Nigerian Civil War, the poems [of Beware, Soul-Brother] are centrally concerned with the regeneration of belief after the blight of war…. In 'Beware, Soul-Brother' and implicitly throughout the collection he identifies the enemies of the public spirit and admonishes his readers to beware. And in the more personal poems of the collection, which dramatize the rebirth in the poet himself of hope for love, new life, and order, Achebe creates a representative spokesman, an exemplary persona whose experience realizes the goal Achebe seeks for his society as a whole, 'the regeneration of its deepest aspirations'. (pp. 1-2)

Achebe's recovery of spirit is sustained more through dessicating irony and indignation than a positive faith, and in the sequential ordering of the poems, is achieved only after an ordeal of horror, disgust, and cynicism.

The poems are arranged so as to suggest a chronological unfolding of perceptions, beginning with 'The First Shot' of the revolution…. The poem sharply contrasts the human time of historical 'first shots' with the mechanical time of real bullets…. Achebe foresees the moment when it will lodge 'more firmly than the greater noises ahead' (real bullets) 'in the forehead of memory', where of course, it will resume the pace of human 'striding' in the 'nervous suburb' of the mind. The contrast of historical and mechanical forces announces a central concern of these poems, exploring the kinship of things human and inhuman.

'Air Raid' further defines the contrasting modes of time seen in 'The First Shot'. 'A man crossing the road / to greet a friend / is much too slow'. 'His friend [is] cut in halves' by the 'bird of death' from the 'evil forest' of technology. The poem's juxtapositions are immediately and simply effective: the potential unity of two men coming together, crossing the road that separates all men, is set off against abrupt, literal division as the friend is cut in half; the flying shadow from technology's evil forest eclipses the full light of noon; human slowness is contrasted with the dreadful quickness of mechanism. (p. 2)

'Refugee Mother and Child' and 'Christmas in Biafra' are longer, more ambitious poems that attempt to evoke pathos through direct description of civilian casualties—mothers and starving children…. Although 'Refugee Mother and Child' and 'Christmas in Biafra' are perhaps the least successful poems in the collection, they are nonetheless important to its central themes…. Seen against the plaster immortality of the rosy-cheeked Jesus, the perishing child becomes 'a miracle of its own kind': his mortality emphasizes the vital humanity of his mother's devotion. The spectacle arouses in Achebe a 'pure transcendental hate'. 'Pure' and 'transcendental' are more than casual intensifiers; they suggest a loftiness of feeling from which any hint of self-blame is absent. As in 'Air Raid', evil is perceived as external; the poet sees that war cuts men in half and starves babies, but he believes in the purity of the man's friendship and the mother's love. In the poems that follow, his confidence steadily wanes.

In 'Mango Seedling' … similar themes appear, but in a different and more effective mask. The poem is loosely allegorical. A mango seedling sprouts incongruously on the concrete ledge of a modern office building. A suggestive emblem of vital, human birth, 'purple, two-leafed, standing on its burst black yolk', the seedling is doomed because it cannot put down roots. Like the starving babies, perhaps the revolution, or even the persona himself, it feeds on its own substance, ultimately starves, and dies…. For the first time in Beware, Soul-Brother the persona stands inside the world of the poem. He, too, is entombed in the sarcophagus, remote from the nourishing earth, his tone as detached and distant as his vantage point two stories above, where he observes the seedling through a glass pane. In this sterile place and age, he can believe none of the myths of fertility…. But in the concluding line, the last two words, 'passionate courage', suddenly break the emotional distance the persona has maintained so far. A 'tiny debris' is all that remains of the seedling's 'passionate courage', but the poet's commitment to the significance of perishing courage is unequivocal. Like the dying babies, the withered seedling represents a last vestige of rapidly diminishing human values.

Achebe's confidence in such redeeming human values disappears completely in the next two poems. 'Vultures' and 'Lazarus' reveal the nadir of the poet's spirits. Both explore the idea that good and evil are inextricably linked; the very germ from which new growth may come is tainted with evil…. As in 'Mango Seedling', the moment of birth is blighted, but now the blighting force can no longer be dismissed as external.

The poet's recovery from this spiritually arid, cynical cast of mind is seen in 'Love Song' and 'Answer'. The transition is marked by two significant changes in the persona's stance: unlike the earlier poems, which relate to public scenes and historical moments of the recent past, 'Love Song' is personal in tone, addressed to 'my love' rather than 'my people', and looks to the future. (pp. 3-5)

The moment of recovery looked forward to in 'Love Song' takes place in 'Answer', which dramatizes 'a dramatic descent', the rooting of a new conception of the persona's self in the 'trysting floor' of the earth…. The metaphor of his re-emergence into 'proud vibrant life' is that of the seedling, bursting out of the darkness of its confining hull and sending the 'twin cotyledons' of his hands upward, his feet as roots drawn downward to the earth. (p. 5)

The implications of the symbolic action in 'Love Song' and 'Answer' are elaborated more discursively in the title poem of the collection. 'Beware, Soul-Brother' shapes the personal experience of these poems into a warning to writers, the 'men of soul'. In the central metaphor of the poem, writers are dancers; the earth of the dancing ground is their inspiration and their responsibility. (pp. 5-6)

'Beware, Soul-Brother' may seem too confident in its laying down the law for the arts, but it can easily be seen that Achebe has himself experienced the sense of disinheritance he warns against. He numbers himself among the soul-brothers, and in 'Answer' reveals a moment when he felt obliged to try to recover a lost vitality. Other poems in the collection also betray the uneasiness of one who cannot simply draw away from the 'departed dance' of the African past, even though he has committed himself to catching up to 'the dance of the future'. In three poems, 'Penalty of Godhead', 'Lament of the Sacred Python', and 'Dereliction' Achebe looks back to the world of his ancestors, not to worship at their shrines, or even to lament their passing, but only to express the pain he feels in abandoning them. The inevitable penalty of Godhead is to be left behind. (p. 6)

But the uneasy sense of having betrayed the past is balanced in the final poems of Beware, Soul-Brother by a healthy scorn for the uncommitted, whose prudence and insensitivity shield them from the ambivalent emotions of engagement. The restored Achebe asserts his judgments to bring his collection to an angry close. In contrast to the 'pure transcendental hate' of 'Christmas in Biafra', the emotion of these concluding poems is 'seminal rage', a committed hatred that fertilizes and sustains his regenerated spirit. 'NON-commitment' and 'We Laughed at Him', the most important of these poems, are built on contrasting images of defence and penetration…. [The eye] is the primary metaphor of these poems. The uncommitted do nothing and feel nothing chiefly because their imagination is timorous and they find sight excruciatingly painful…. The final poem of Beware, Soul-Brother ['We Laughed at Him'], is, of course, a defence of poetry and the poet's role in a society blinded by conventionality and contemptuous of the arts. (pp. 7-8)

Philip Rogers [Harper College, SUNY], "Chinua Achebe's Poems of Regeneration," in Journal of Commonwealth Literature (© Oxford University Press 1976; reprinted by permission of the author), April, 1976, pp. 1-9.

Sola Soile

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[In] Things Fall Apart the society is forced to give way to an inevitable change because of its violent collision with an alien institution. In Arrow of God, however, we have a more explosive situation of a society cleaving apart largely from its own internal strain. The latter novel illustrates the classic situation of a house divided against itself which, with or without any assistance from an external force, must collapse. To be sure the destructive colonial forces that we encounter in the first novel are still very much alive and thriving, but they now stand on the periphery of the doomed society, waiting on the wing to swoop down, like vultures, the moment the society commits harakiri. In this particular sense Arrow of God is more truly the tragedy…. (p. 283)

[The] central irony in [Things Fall Apart is the] paradox between what the society seems to encourage and what it can actually permit. In Arrow of God, Achebe brings out more elements in the Ibo society which help to sustain the internal cohesion of the clan but are at the same time responsible for its ultimate disintegration. This ambiguity is at the center of the tragedy of the hero, Ezeulu, the chief priest of Ulu. As the high priest of Umuaro, Ezeulu is the political and spiritual leader of the community and its most able protector against contamination from internal and external sources, and yet he becomes the unwitting cause of some of the society's woes. The germ of this paradox is built into the very function of the chief priest. As the Ezeulu his role involves the symbolic cleansing of the whole clan of all its abominations…. It is a psychically demanding function, but Ezeulu has gladly accepted this symbolic role of the scapegoat on whose head the sins of the village are periodically heaped…. (pp. 283-84)

The chief priest is described by the author as an intellectual, someone who goes to the root of things and thinks about why they happen. He is the archetypical philosopher-king. His broad vision and comprehensive outlook on the world are his strength and at the same time … the main source of his tragic weakness.

The action in Arrow of God centers around Ezeulu's running battle against two threats to himself and his clan. As the chief priest of the god Ulu, he locks horns with reactionary elements within the clan who, for various reasons, want to displace him and the deity he represents from the long-established hierarchy of the village deities. This represents what one might call the home front of the war…. From the outside come the forces of the European colonial institutions represented by the District Officer, Captain Winterbottom. The forces here are initially less threatening, but in the structure of the novel Ezeulu's success on this external front largely depends on the degree of his success on the other front. Achebe carefully balances the two battles side by side, allowing the external situation to impinge on the internal only when the latter permits it.

In these battles Ezeulu naturally relies on the power of his god, but his conception of this power is tragically faulty. His attempt to probe too closely into the mystery of an essentially sacrosanct phenomenon first reveals Ezeulu's intellectual pride, that error of judgment for which he is later punished by Ulu…. Ezeulu's intellectual pride makes him attempt a definition of his individual will in relation to the sacred power of which he is only a custodian. The same presumption leads him later to second-guess the god and confuse personal revenge with divine justice by actually refusing to name the day for the harvest, thereby taking upon himself what is properly the prerogative of the deity.

Ezeulu's intellectual pride is, however, only a personal flaw that will partly account for his own individual tragedy. The central action involves the clan as a whole, and what really prompts Ezeulu to examine the nature of his power is the growing schism between rival factions in the community…. [In effect], the battle is really between the two gods, Ulu and Idemili, with their respective priests as the human protagonists. (pp. 284-86)

Ezeulu is the agent and champion of change. From the obscurity of the future he discerns the pattern of things to come. The essence of his leadership draws on this power to foresee future events. (p. 286)

His prophetic acumen in rightly guessing the necessity of learning the ways of white men leads him to think that he can similarly foresee and provide for every contingency…. [Too] often Ezeulu is blind to [his] limitation. (p. 287)

A superficial reading of the novel and a literal interpretation of the role of Ezeulu as just a mere arrow in the bow of his god might give the unwary the erroneous impression that the chief priest is an amoral agent of the deity. Of course, Ezeulu himself believes this…. I think that by relying so dangerously on Ezeulu's own analysis of the god's injunction, an analysis that can hardly be described as objective, [one] fails to recognize the necessary ambiguous role of the god and other divine elements in the novel, and thus misses the central irony. In an interview …, Achebe himself comes out with a clear statement of his intention in Arrow of God. "I am handling a whole lot of … complex themes, like the relationship between a god and his priest … and I am interested in this old question of who decides what shall be the wish of the gods, and … that kind of situation." That, precisely, is the core of the ambiguity in the novel which must be analyzed before any valid statement can be made about Ezeulu's motivation.

Achebe's enigma is posed right from the beginning with the lack of a precise definition of the nature and extent of the power of the chief priest. (p. 292)

There is little doubt that Ulu himself is visiting the sins of the people on their heads. What Ezeulu and [some critics] confuse is the human revenge of the chief priest and the divine justice of the deity. Ezeulu forgets that revenge is not justice but an unreasonable human retribution which has a way of getting out of proportion to the original offence and thereby constituting a new crime. Thus we hear Ezeulu lament that Umuaro's present suffering is not just temporary but will be for all time. Ironically, Ezeulu feels a sense of community with the people in their suffering as a result of his vengeance, seeing his own participation in the general distress as part of his function as the priest who pays the debt of every man, woman, and child in Umuaro. But in his interpretation of the god's justice he temporarily forgets this responsibility and remembers only his power. He comes to look at divine justice through his flawed vision as something from which he is excluded because of his earlier rectitude…. He says to Ulu in effect, "I have done no evil, therefore I must not suffer." He fails to see that true justice is a mysterious order in which the sins of individuals within a community are visited on the whole community; an order in which the sins of the guilty are visited on all—guilty and innocent alike. Ezeulu defines justice in non-personal terms, calling on Ulu, "Let justice be done—on others!" He forgets that far from being outside of this moral, if unfathomable order, far from being a mere spectator, a mere arrow in the bow of the deity, an unimplicated executioner, he is the pivot on which the whole order rotates. He is the Chief Priest of Ulu…. The incomprehensibility of the whole mystery of this order of justice remains with Ezeulu to the end. (pp. 293-94)

He looks at himself as the accuser but fails to see that he is also the accused. And without the recognition of this paradox there can be no proper grasp of the concept of justice and the proper role of the scapegoat, which is the office of Ezeulu.

The novel closes as it does with Ezeulu's dementedness because he fails to accept his own moral responsibility for the general sin of the clan. For it is our willingness to accept such guilt that leads to self-knowledge…. Although Ezeulu has sinned against the gods, his tragedy is not really a matter of crime and punishment, but a failure of moral self-recognition. (p. 295)

Sola Soile, "Tragic Paradox in Achebe's 'Arrow of God'," in PHYLON: The Atlanta University Review of Race and Culture (copyright, 1976, by Atlanta University; reprinted by permission of PHYLON), Vol. XXXVII, Third Quarter (September, 1976), pp. 283-95.

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