Things Fall Apart Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis
by Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis

One night, the town crier runs through the village, telling all the men to gather at the market that next morning. A girl from their village has been killed, the elders say, by men from Mbaino, one of the rival villages. Their course of action is clear: to present the bigger, stronger Umuofia with a sacrifice of a young man and a virgin or else prepare to fight a war. Naturally, Mbaino chooses the latter, and the girl is married off to the man whose wife was killed. The boy, however, is sent to live with Okonkwo and will later meet a terrible fate. His name is Ikemefuna, and he's afraid. He has been taken from his home and was terrified of Okonkwo. He didn't know the girl who'd been brought with him from Mbaino, and he never saw her again.


Achebe frequently uses repetition to emphasize sounds, such as when he repeats the call "Gome, gome, gome, gome" and describers the crier's voice as growing "dimmer and dimmer." This has the effect of aligning the reader with Okonkwo, from whose perspective we hear the voice grow dimmer and dimmer as the crier moves farther and farther away.


Human Heads. Okonkwo has five human heads, which he carried home as trophies from battles. Each of these heads is a symbol of Okonkwo's incredible brutality, both as a warrior and a person. That he uses the skull of his first human head as a drinking goblet demonstrates that he's an often ruthless and heartless character. However, it's important to remember that in his culture this is not an entirely uncommon practice, and that he's respected for the head collection modern readers might find macabre.


Evil. In Igbo culture, it's common practice to protect one's self from evil spirits, which can take many forms, including snakes, dangerous animals, and disembodied voices. Tradition holds that one is never to call a snake by its name or whistle at all at night for fear of evil spirits. Western readers will likely think of these as "superstitions." However, it's important to remember that this book is about a different culture and that belief in evil spirits is part of the Igbo religion. Henceforth, any and all "superstitions" will be referred to as essential parts of Igbo spiritual practices.

Justice.  When Okonkwo travels to Mbaino to give their...

(The entire section is 604 words.)