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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis

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This chapter consists entirely of a recreation of all the wrestling matches at the Feast of the New Yam, one of the most important traditions in Igbo culture. Young men of the nine villages come to prove themselves in the ring and build their reputations. Okonkwo was once one of these boys (a fact that is not forgotten). During the matches, Chielo, the priestess of Agbala, comes up to Ekwefi, asking about her daughter Ezinma, whom Chielo affectionately calls “my daughter.” In her everyday life, Chielo is a widow who shares a stall with Ekwefi at the market, but when she feels the spirit of Agbala inside her, she becomes the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves. She will show an even greater interest in Ezinma in the chapters to come.


The celebratory villagers use hyperbole when they ask, “Has he thrown a hundred Cats? / He has thrown four hundred Cats,” which the reader of course knows not to be true, because Okafo, the boy they’re singing about, has only fought one match that we’ve seen.


Drums. Achebe continues to build on the drum motif, equating these drum beats with the collective pulse of the people. In this way, the drums come to represent the enormous vitality of the wrestlers and their audience.


One example of a simile is “the air shivered and grew tense like a tightened bow.”


Cats. Here, “Cats” are likely an allusion to Amalinze the Cat, the great wrestler whom Okonkwo threw in his youth. The lyrics “Has he thrown a hundred Cats? / He has thrown four hundred Cats” are a clear reference to Okonkwo’s victory, indicating that this great feat is highly revered among the people of his village. Thus, the thrown Cat becomes a symbol of a man’s strength and prowess in the ring as in the battlefield.

Chi. One’s chi is a personal god one worships and gives offering to so that one might be blessed with luck and good fortune. In Ekwefi’s case, her chi is considered “very much awake,” because it spared her from being killed by Okonkwo’s gun. Thus, Ekwefi is seen as being under the care of a very powerful chi, who has changed her fate for the better.

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Chapter 5 Summary and Analysis


Chapter 7 Summary and Analysis