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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 12 Summary and Analysis

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The next morning, after Okonkwo and Ekwefi return from following Chielo and Ezinma into the foothills, their entire village comes out to celebrate the day of Obierika’s daughter’s uri, when her suitor brings palm-wine to her family and to the rest of their kinsmen (a large group that includes Okonkwo and Obierika’s good friends). Okonkwo and Ekwefi are tired from their trip but attend the celebration, bringing the bride food and water in honor of her impending marriage. Obierika gives his daughter a very large goat the size of a small cow, which he sent a relative to buy at the market. This market is famous because of a “medicine” (magic) that the founders used to attract people to come.

While the women prepare food for the uri, a cow gets loose and has to be corralled. After they all drink some palm-wine, the real celebration begins, and Obierika’s clansmen come over and make many toasts to Obierika, their family, their future children, and Okonkwo, whom they praise (yet again) for his skills as a warrior. This stands in sharp contrast to the image of him as a very tired, worried, and humbled father that readers saw at the beginning of this chapter. After dancing and feasting, the bride is taken to live with her suitor’s family for seven weeks, and the chapter ends.


Achebe uses a simile when he says Chielo crawled out of the cave on her belly “like a snake” and again when he says Obierika’s compound was “as busy as an anthill.”


Gifts. Traditional gifts in Igbo culture include the kola nut, food, water, palm-wine, livestock, and large sums of money in the form of cowries. Generally, the more important the ceremony is, the larger the gift is expected to be. Giving less than this amount or being stingy is frowned upon, because it’s not in keeping with Igbo traditions.

Magic. Igbo spiritual practices include a belief in magic and the supernatural, which they use to explain a wide variety of phenomena, including the popularity of the market. It’s important that Western readers in particular differentiate between mere superstitions and fundamental spiritual practices. Belief in magic is essential to the Igbo identity and shapes how they relate to the natural world.

Nature. This novel makes it clear that Igbo culture is firmly rooted in the land: people grow all their own food on the land, draw their wealth from the land, worship earth gods, and build their huts out of the earth. Everything relates back to nature, and nature in itself becomes a kind of character, with various earth gods and natural phenomena (like rain) personified in order to explain them.

Tradition. Igbo people live their entire lives according to tradition, planting their crops using time-honored methods, getting married only after certain criteria have been met, and observing traditional war practices, such as delivering ultimatums. These traditions are essential to understanding the Igbo culture and help readers understand how different characters relate to each other.

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Chapter 11 Summary and Analysis


Chapter 13 Summary and Analysis