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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 8 Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What does Okonkwo mean when he says a bowl of pounded yams can throw Nwoye in a wrestling match?

2. What does Okonkwo mean when he says, “Where are the young suckers that will grow when the old banana tree dies?” (p. 46)

3. Why would Okonkwo have been happier if Ezinma had been a boy?

4. Okonkwo springs to his feet to visit his friend Obierika. What does this image reveal about Okonkwo?

5. What is the meaning of the proverb “A child’s fingers are not scalded by a piece of hot yam which its mother puts into its palm”. (p. 47)

6. Explain Okonkwo’s reaction to the deaths of Ogbuefi Ndulue and Ozoemena and the idea that they had “one mind.” What does this reaction reveal about Okonkwo’s understanding of the feminine principle?

7. Why does Obierika think Maduka is too sharp?

8. What is the meaning of the proverb “When mother-cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth”? (p. 49)

9. Why does Akueke’s mother say that waist beads and fire are not friends?

10. What is Akueke’s bride-price, and how do the men arrive at the price?

1. Nwoye is not a powerful or skillful wrestler.

2. Okonkwo wonders who will follow in his footsteps. His children do not seem to resemble him.

3. Ezinma has the right spirit.

4. Okonkwo is a man of action.

5. The proverb means that a mother will never hurt her child. Likewise, Okonkwo believes the Earth goddess will not punish him for obeying her.

6. Okonkwo feels that the simultaneous deaths of Ogbuefi Ndulue and Ozoemena are very strange. He cannot believe that Ndulue and his wife had “one mind.” He thought Ndulue was a strong man. This reaction reveals that Okonkwo does not understand the nature, function, and power of the feminine principle in Igbo cosmology.

7. Maduka is always in a hurry; he often does not listen to the whole message.

8. The proverb means that children imitate their parents. Likewise, Maduka has been watching Obierika and imitating him.

9. She fears that some day Akueke’s waist beads will catch on fire while she is cooking.

10. Akueke’s bride-price is finally settled at 20 bags of cowries. The men negotiate with the bundles of sticks.

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