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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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In Things Fall Apart, how does Obierka show his friendship to Okonkwo?

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In this great postcolonial classic, Obierika seems to act as a kind of foil to Okonkwo through his differences. Whilst Okonkwo is a man of strength and action, Obierika is a much more thoughtful person. Consider his response to Okonkwo's exile:

Obierika was a man who thought about things. When the will of the goddess had been done, he sat down in his obi and mourned his friend's calamity. Why should a man suffer so greviously for an offence he had commited inadvertently?

Thus we can see how Obierika cares for his friend and mourns his misfortune. He helps Okonkwo in readying himself for his exile, and also visits his friend whilst he is away from his friends and village. It is Obierika who tells Okonkwo of the arrival of the missionaries and the impact on the village. Note, too, how when the exile of Okonkwo draws to a close, it is Obierika who builds two huts and sends a message summoning Okonkwo back to the village. Lastly, Obeierika's friendship of Okonkwo is proved in the author giving him the final words to say about Okonkwo's life, acting as a kind of elegy:

Obierika, who had been gazing steadily at this friend's dangling body, turned suddenly to the District Commissioner and said ferociously: "That man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself; and now he will be buried like a dog..." He could not say any more. His vioce trembled and choked his words.

Note how his anger and the way his voice trembled proves his love and deep friendship of Okonkwo. Throughout the novel, Obierika acts as a friend and support to Okonkwo, and thus it is fitting that he has the final word on his friend's life.

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Give a detailed example explaining how Obierika is a good and loyal friend to Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart.

Obierika is certainly a good and loyal friend to Okonkwo. His devotion to Okonkwo can be seen in how he behaves after the latter's exile.

When Okonkwo unwittingly kills a clansman, Ezeudu's son, he must leave the village. According to the laws of the clan, even accidental killings must be atoned for. For his part, Okonkwo is grieved and angry at having to leave his home. He sullenly packs up his belongings and heads to Mbanta with his wives and children. Mbanta is the home of his mother's clan.

For Okonkwo, it is a humiliating journey back to his mother's kin. He feels emasculated, lost, and utterly demoralized. In his grief, Okonkwo is supported by Uchendu, his mother's younger brother, and Obierika. The latter allows Okonkwo to keep his yams in his barn. And in the second year of Okonkwo's exile, Obierika visits him, the only man from Umuofia to do so.

Obierika does not arrive with empty hands, however. He brings two full bags of cowries for Okonkwo. The cowries are the profits from selling all of Okonkwo's yams. Two years later, Obierika visits Okonkwo again. He brings news about Umuofia to Okonkwo and tells the latter about the missionary activity in their village. Although the news is not a happy one, Okonkwo is grateful to Obierika for his loyal friendship.

In the last year of Okonkwo's exile, Obierika prepares for his friend's return by building two huts. These are the huts that Okonkwo, his wives, and his children will live in until more huts can be built. The reason Okonkwo has to rebuild his home is because the men of Umuofia burned it prior to his exile. In everything, Obierika faithfully looks to Okonkwo's welfare, and he remains one of the latter's most stalwart supporters throughout the story.

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