Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 10 Summary and Analysis

This chapter opens with a trial, in which the egwugwu (masked men impersonating the villagers' ancestors) interrogate a man who is accused of being excessively cruel to his wife, who wants to return to her parents. Her father argues in front of the egwugwu that her husband doesn't deserve her, because he once beat her so badly that she miscarried. Eventually, the egwugwu decide that the husband shall make offerings to his wife's family, and that if he does this for them, then she'll return to him. The implication is that he will no longer beat her, because, as the egwugwu say, "It is not bravery when a man fights with a woman."

Personification

Egwugwu are physical manifestations of the ancient spirits, who are represented by men wearing large, fearsome masks. These spirits are given bodies and voices by the great men of the village, who give the spirits form and allow them to make informed, logical decisions, as a living person would.

Repetition

Once again, Achebe uses the repetition of "gome, gome, gome, gome" to represent the beating of the drums.

Themes

Courage. Though Okonkwo himself is one of the egwugwu, they disapprove of domestic violence against women, if for no other reason than that they believe "it is not bravery when a man fights with a woman." In other words, if a man beats a woman, that doesn't show his strength, because women are neither warriors nor enemies. Okonkwo, who has himself beaten his wives and children many times, takes the same stance as the egwugwu and in so doing proves himself a hypocrite. Achebe is clearly using this trial to imply that Okonkwo isn't as brave as he thinks he is, because after all he still feels the need to beat his wives.

(The entire section is 586 words.)