Civil Peace Summary
by Chinua Achebe

Start Your Free Trial

Download Civil Peace Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Civil Peace Summary

(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Civil Peace’’ opens in eastern Nigeria after the civil war has ended. Jonathan Iwegbu considers himself and his family lucky. He, his wife, Maria, and three of their four children are alive. He even has maintained possession of his old bicycle, which he puts to use as a taxi. His taxi service allows him to make money, and within two weeks, he has earned £150.

Jonathan then travels to Enugu, the capital city, and finds to his great surprise and delight his house still standing, even though some nearby structures are reduced to a pile of rubble from the war. The house needs some repairs, so Jonathan immediately collects available materials: zinc, wood, and cardboard. He hires a carpenter to complete the work and soon moves his family back home.

The entire family works hard to earn money and rebuild their lives. The children pick mangoes and Maria makes akara balls to sell. After he finds that he cannot return to his job as a coal miner, Jonathan opens up a bar for the soldiers, which he runs out of his home. Jonathan is thankful that he has a home and a job, unlike many of his fellow ex-miners.

Jonathan's family does well, and then they get an added bonus when the government starts handing out egg-rashers—payments of twenty pounds in exchange for the Biafran money Nigerians turn over. Jonathan leaves the office with his money in his pocket, taking care so no thief should get it. At home that evening, Jonathan has trouble falling asleep. He finally does so, only to be awakened by violent pounding on the front door. He calls out to ask who is knocking, and the reply comes that thieves are here. Jonathan's family calls out for help from the police and the neighbors but no one comes. Eventually, they stop calling.

The thieves call out then, repeating the family's pleas for help. Jonathan and his family are in terror. The children and Maria are crying, Jonathan is groaning. The leader of the thieves speaks again, mockingly asking if he should call for the soldiers, but Jonathan says not to do so. Now the thief wants to get down to business. Jonathan asks what they want...

(The entire section is 575 words.)