Part Two, Chapter 14 Summary and Analysis
Part II sees Okonkwo rage inwardly against his misfortune. Though he hates that he's been exiled to his mother's homeland of Mbanta, he understands that there's no way to appeal his punishment and that he must accept his fate. His uncle Uchendu greets him, and Uchendu's five sons pitch in to give Okonkwo a large number of seed yams so that he might build his farm. That year, the rain comes in the form of hail, which the villagers of Mbanta name "the nuts of the water of heaven." Not long after the rains begin, one of Uchendu's five sons gets married and Okonkwo attends the isa-ifi ceremony, which is held to confirm that the bride has been faithful to her suitor. Following the ceremony, the bride and groom start their life together, and Uchendu calls a family meeting.
Uchendu brings everyone together so that he can speak to Okonkwo. He poses a question: why is it that the Igbo say "Nneka" (meaning, "Mother is Supreme")? Okonkwo doesn't know. Uchendu, having anticipated this, tells Okonkwo that, like a child who seeks sympathy in its mother's hut, a man comes home to his motherland to seek solace and protection. That's why they say "Mother is Supreme." Uchendu then tells Okonkwo that many men have suffered more than him and that his fate is not such a terrible one. Uchendu himself has buried twenty-two children, and his daughter has had to leave many twins to die in the Evil Forest. Twins, it's believed, are evil spirits that take the form of children and must be disposed of in the forest.
Though Uchendu has buried twenty-two children, he says, "[He] did not hang [himself]." Suicide is considered one of the most dishonorable acts a man can commit. Uchendu's words foreshadow Okonkwo's eventual suicide by hanging at the end of the novel.
Fire. Thus far in the novel, fire has primarily been made use of because of its destructive properties. It does, however, have other applications, and in this chapter the image of fire is used to describe a long, oppressive heat wave that broke only when hail began to fall from the sky. "Fire" has been figured variously as a creator (a means of preparing meals), a destroyer (as in the destruction of Okonkwo's compound), and, here, an oppressor. Achebe emphasizes its destructive qualities and in so doing highlights the violent actions of the novel's many characters.
Achebe uses a simile when he says that Okonkwo had been cast out of his clan "like a fish onto a dry, sandy beach."
Home. In Part I, "home"...
(The entire section is 658 words.)