The narrator, the palm-wine “drinkard” of the title, who cannot imagine life without a steady supply of palm-wine. After his palm-wine tapster falls from a palm and is killed, he takes his dead father’s jujus (magical implements) and sets out to find the tapster in the town of the dead. One of his first adventures is the rescue of a young woman from a bush creature who has lured her into captivity. He marries her and with her traverses a variety of dangerous areas in the bush, sometimes using his jujus to change his wife into a wooden doll that he carries in his pocket and once changing himself into a canoe to earn money ferrying people across a river. The journey seems to be a test of his character as well as serving to form it. He does not gain materially from his experiences, but he maintains his humanity and Christianity, even in the face of terrible dangers and awesome creatures. When he and his wife return home, he no longer seems to depend upon palm-wine, and he becomes the savior of his people by negotiating the conclusion to a feud between Heaven and Earth, thus ending a famine.
The Palm-Wine Tapster
The Palm-Wine Tapster, who now resides in Deads’ Town. He cannot go with the narrator or allow him to stay, because the dead cannot coexist with the living. He gives the narrator some palm-wine and a marvelous egg, with which the narrator later combats a terrible famine. Someone later...
(The entire section is 591 words.)