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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 4 Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. An old man refers to Okonkwo saying, “Looking at a king’s mouth, one would think he never sucked at his mother’s breast.” (p. 19) What does he mean?

2. How does Okonkwo demonstrate his fondness for Ikemefuna?

3. Why does Nwoye’s mother claim that Ojiugo has asked her to feed her children?

4. Why is Okonkwo’s first wife always called “Nwoye’s mother”?

5. What does the kola nut symbolize, and why does Ezeani refuse to accept it from Okonkwo during the Week of Peace?

6. Why do Okonkwo’s enemies called him the little bird nza?

7. In the past, a man who broke the sacred peace was dragged around the village until he died. Why was the custom stopped?

8. In some clans, if a man dies during the Week of Peace, he is cast into the Evil Forest. He is not buried. What is the result of this action?

9. Compare and contrast the planting season with the month of harvest.

10. What does Nwoye mean when he decides that Nnadi lives in the land of Ikemefuna’s favorite story?

1. The old man thinks it is incredible that Okonkwo, who has risen so suddenly from desperate poverty and misfortune and is now one of the lords of the clan, should forget his own humble origins and treat less successful men with disrespect.

2. When Okonkwo goes to feasts or meetings, he allows Ikemefuna to carry his stool and goatskin bag; this is traditionally a son’s privilege.

3. Nwoye’s mother minimizes Ojiugo’s thoughtlessness and protects her.

4. Okonkwo’s first wife is always called “Nwoye’s mother” because she is honored as the mother of Okonkwo’s heir, his first son.

5. The kola nut is a symbol of hospitality. Ezeani refuses to accept it because Okonkwo has offended Ani, the Earth goddess, by beating his wife during the Week of Peace.

6. Okonkwo’s enemies called him the little bird nza because nza forgot who he was after a heavy meal and challenged his chi. Likewise, Okonkwo challenged the gods by violating the Peace of Ani.

7. The custom of dragging a man around the village was stopped because it spoiled the peace it was meant to preserve.

8. The dead who are thrown into the Evil Forest without burial become evil spirits who roam the earth and threaten the living.

9. The planting season and the month of harvest are periods of exact and hard work. The planting season is a serious time; the harvest is a light-hearted time.

10. Nnadi is just a character in a song; he is part of Ikemefuna’s vivid imagination.

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