Part One, Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
1. Why is Okonkwo’s defeat of Amalinze the Cat such a great achievement?
2. Describe Okonkwo.
3. What does Unoka do with his money?
4. What is the harmattan?
5. Why does Unoka sing to the kites?
6. Why does Unoka enjoy playing music for the egwugwu, or the masqueraders who impersonate the ancestral spirits of the village?
7. What is the meaning of the proverb “He who brings kola brings life”? (p. 5)
8. Why is Okonkwo ashamed of his father, Unoka?
9. Compare Okonkwo with his father.
10. Why is Ikemefuna offered to the village of Umuofia?
1. The Cat, the greatest wrestler in the region, was unbeaten for seven years.
2. Okonkwo is huge with bushy eyebrows and a wide nose. He breathes heavily and seems to walk on springs as if he is about to pounce on someone. He has no patience with unsuccessful men like his father.
3. Unoka buys gourds of palm wine and drinks with his neighbors.
4. The harmattan is a dry wind that blows across West Africa from the north.
5. Unoka loves to sing a welcome to the birds, or kites, who return to the village from their long journey south.
6. Unoka enjoys eating and drinking at the feasts.
7. The kola nut is a symbol of hospitality and friendship.
8. Okonkwo’s father has no titles; he is heavily in debt when he dies.
9. Okonkwo washes his hands of his father’s failures and becomes a leader in the community.
10. Ikemefuna is offered to Umuofia by the neighboring village of Mbaino as a compensation in order to avoid war.
Chapter 2 Questions and Answers
1. How does Okonkwo display his fierce and warlike nature at important occasions in the village?
2. Give examples illustrating the Igbo people’s vague terror of darkness.
3. Why would the people of Umuofia be beaten in the war with Mbaino if they disobeyed the Oracles of the Hills and Caves?
4. Why is Ikemefuna selected by the people of Mbaino to serve as the peace sacrifice for Umuofia?
5. Okonkwo is very strong and rarely feels tired. How would you describe Okonkwo’s three wives and children?
6. Why is Nwoye developing into a sad-faced youth?
7. Which one of Okonkwo’s wives is the most afraid of him and why?
8. Why does Okonkwo rule his household with a heavy hand?
9. How is Unoka regarded by many members of the village?
10. Why is Okonkwo asked to become Ikemefuna’s guardian?
1. Okonkwo displays his warlike nature on occasions such as funerals by drinking his palm wine from the first human head he captured in battle.
2. The Igbo people do not play in the open fields on dark and silent nights.
3. The people of Umuofia would be beaten in the war with Mbaino if they disobeyed the Oracles of the Hills and Caves because their gods would not allow them to fight a war of blame.
4. The people of Mbaino select Ikemefuna as the peace sacrifice because his father participated in murdering the woman from Umuofia in the marketplace.
5. Okonkwo’s wives and children are not as strong as Okonkwo.
6. Nwoye is developing into a sad-faced youth because he is constantly nagged and beaten by his father, Okonkwo.
7. The third wife is the most afraid of Okonkwo because she is the youngest.
8. Okonkwo rules his household with a heavy hand because he wants his family to work hard and prosper. He is also afraid of appearing weak like his father.
9. The villagers think Unoka is like a weak woman because he did not earn any titles.
10. Okonkwo is asked to become Ikemefuna’s guardian because he is a prosperous village leader.
Chapter 3 Questions and Answers
1. Why is Unoka, who dies of swelling in the stomach, abandoned and left to die in the Evil Forest?
2. Why is Nwakibie considered a successful man in Igbo society?
3. Nwakibie says, “You will have what is good for you and I will have what is good for me. Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too. If one says no to the other, let his wing break.”
(p. 14) What is the meaning of Nwakibie’s words?
4. What is the meaning of the proverb “A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing”? (p. 15)
5. Why does Okonkwo laugh uneasily at the story of Obiako and the oracle?
6. What is the meaning of the proverb “The lizard that jumped from the high iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one else did”? (p. 16)
7. Why is sharecropping a slow way to build up a barn?
8. Give two examples of how Okonkwo tries to save his yams during the drought.
9. Why is the poor harvest like a sad funeral for the Igbo people?
10. What does Okonkwo learn through the drought and poor harvest?
1. Unoka is left to rot in the Evil Forest because the swelling in his stomach is an abomination to the Earth goddess.
2. Nwakibie has earned all but one title in Umuofia. He owns three huge barns, and he has nine wives and 30 children.
3. Nwakibie means that both he and Okonkwo are entitled to live well. If either of them denies the other prosperity, he should suffer.
4. The proverb means that a person does not run away from something without a reason.
5. Okonkwo is much like Obiako because his father is also unsuccessful.
6. Okonkwo is like the lizard in the proverb. He is praising himself since no one else will.
7. Sharecropping is a slow way to build up a barn because the farmer only reaps a third of the harvest for himself.
8. During the drought, Okonkwo tries to protect the yam seedlings from the sun by putting rings of sisal around them. He also prays for rain.
9. The livelihood of the Igbo people is dependent upon the yam. A good harvest means prosperity and life; a poor harvest is like death.
10. Okonkwo learns that he can survive any disaster.
Chapter 4 Questions and Answers
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...
(The entire section is 431 words.)
Chapter 5 Questions and Answers
1. What is Ani’s relationship with the ancestors?
2. Why are new yams offered to Ani and the ancestors at the festival?
3. Describe the New Yam Festival.
4. Does Ekwefi, Okonkwo’s second wife, really kill the banana tree?
5. Nwoye’s mother often calls Ezinma “Ezigbo.” What does this name mean?
6. How does Okonkwo react when he hears the beating of the drums?
7. Why is Obiageli, Nwoye’s sister, crying?
8. Why does Ikemefuna look at the other children sternly when Obiageli tells the adults the story about breaking her pot?
9. Why do Obiageli, Ezinma, and Nkechi serve their father food in this order?
10. Why can’t Ezinma carry her father’s chair to the wrestling match?
1. Ani is in close communion with the ancestors of the clan.
2. The people give honor and thanks to Ani and the ancestors by offering them new yams at the festival.
3. The New Yam Festival is a big event; the women scrub the walls of their houses and wash all the pots and bowls thoroughly. Wives and children decorate themselves; relatives are invited to the feast; and huge quantities of yam foo-foo and vegetable soup are prepared. The feast is held on the first day; the wrestling matches are held on the second day.
4. Ekwefi does not kill the banana tree. She simply removes some of the leaves to wrap food.
5. “Ezigbo” means “the good one.”
6. The drums announcing the wrestling match fill Okonkwo with fire and the desire to conquer and subdue. He moves his feet to the beat of the drums.
7. Obiageli, Nwoye’s sister, is crying because she broke her water pot.
8. Obiageli is acting sad in front of the adults. Ikemefuna does not want the other children to tattle on Obiageli.
9. The girls serve their father food in this order because Obiageli is the daughter of her father’s first wife; Ezinma is the daughter of her father’s second wife; and Nkechi is the daughter of her father’s third wife.
10. Ezinma cannot carry her father’s chair to the wrestling match because this is a boy’s job. Men, women, boys, and girls play specific roles in the Igbo society.
Chapter 6 Questions and Answers
1. Using context clues, define the Igbo word ilo.
2. Why is the ancient silk-cotton tree considered sacred?
3. Why do the young boys of 15 and 16 wrestle first?
4. Describe Chielo in ordinary life.
5. Give an example of Chielo’s fondness for Ezinma.
6. What does Ekwefi mean when she says Ezinma is probably going to stay?
7. What is the most exciting moment in a wrestling match?
8. How do you know that Okafo and Ikezue are equally matched wrestlers?
9. What role do the drums play in the wrestling match?
10. Using context clues define the word Amadiora.
1. The Igbo word ilo refers to a playground or a large open area where meetings and sports events take place.
2. The ancient silk-cotton tree is considered sacred because the spirits of good children who are waiting to be born live there.
3. The young boys of 15 and 16 wrestle first in order to set the stage. They are actually practicing.
4. In ordinary life Chielo is a widow with two children. She is friendly with Ekwefi, and they share a common shed in the market.
5. Chielo shows her fondness for Ezinma by sending her bean cakes.
6. When Ekwefi says Ezinma is probably going to stay, she means she is probably going to live.
7. The most exciting moment in a wrestling match is when a man is thrown.
8. Okafo and Ikezue are equally matched because in the previous year, neither one threw the other. Both wrestlers have the same style, and they seem to know each other’s moves beforehand.
9. The drums announce the wrestling match early in the day. The drums beat a rhythm of excitement. Like the crowd, the drums go mad when a wrestler is thrown. The drums are like the pulse of the nine villages.
10. Amadiora is the god of thunder and lightning.
Chapter 7 Questions and Answers
1. Why is Ikemefuna compared to a yam tendril in the rainy season?
2. What are some of the difficult masculine tasks Nwoye enjoys doing?
3. Why would Nwoye pretend to be annoyed and grumble about women?
4. How does Okonkwo feel when he hears Nwoye grumbling about women?
5. Even though Nwoye knows it is right to be masculine, he still prefers the stories that his mother tells. Why?
6. Explain the story of the bird eneke-nti-oba.
7. Why are the people of Umuofia so excited about the locusts?
8. Describe some of the chores the men and women do after the harvest.
9. What does Ikemefuna remember when the men speak...
(The entire section is 317 words.)
Chapter 8 Questions and Answers
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...
(The entire section is 367 words.)
Chapter 9 Questions and Answers
1. Describe the story Okonkwo’s mother used to tell him that explained why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears.
2. Give two examples proving that the relationship between Ezinma and Ekwefi was a companionship of equals.
3. Why did Ekwefi stay with her people during her third pregnancy?
4. How was Ekwefi’s despair reflected in the names she gave her children?
5. Describe the medicine man famous for his knowledge of ogbanje children.
6. Why did the medicine man drag the corpse of the dead ogbanje child into the Evil Forest?
7. Why did Ekwefi grow bitter about her own chi?
8. Why did Ezinma take the medicine man and her...
(The entire section is 503 words.)
Chapter 10 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Evil Forest address Uzowulu saying, “Uzowulu’s body, I salute you”? (p. 64)
2. Why does Evil Forest say, “Uzowulu’s body, do you know me?” (p. 64)
3. What is the law of Umuofia concerning the bride-price of a woman who runs away from her husband?
4. How does Evil Forest keep order when the crowd roars with laughter during the trial?
5. What role do Uzowulu’s neighbors play in the trial?
6. Why do Evil Forest and the other egwugwu run a few steps in the direction of the women?
7. What are some of the names Evil Forest gives himself?
8. What is the purpose of the metal gong, the drums, and...
(The entire section is 326 words.)
Chapter 11 Questions and Answers
1. Why don’t the birds want Tortoise to join them at the feast in the sky?
2. How does Tortoise convince the birds to allow him to join them at the feast?
3. How is Tortoise able to fly with the birds of the sky?
4. What are some of the hard things Tortoise’s wife takes out of the house to prepare for Tortoise’s fall?
5. Why does Ezinma cry when Chielo calls her “my daughter”?
6. Why does Ekwefi recoil from Chielo when she turns around?
7. Why does Ekwefi doubt the wisdom of her coming to the hills and caves?
8. How could a woman like Chielo carry a child the size of Ezinma for such a long distance?
(The entire section is 363 words.)
Chapter 12 Questions and Answers
1. How do the people of Umuike develop their market?
2. The story of the man and the goat shows that the Umuike market is often filled with thieves. What happens in this story?
3. What do Okonkwo’s first and third wives contribute to the betrothal feast?
4. Why does Ekwefi join the betrothal feast later?
5. The members of Obierika’s extended family sit in a half-moon. When his in-laws arrive, they complete thecircle. What is the significance of the seating arrangement?
6. Describe the difference in the attire of the married women and that of the girls who greet the in-laws.
7. What does the eldest man among the in-laws mean when...
(The entire section is 409 words.)
Chapter 13 Questions and Answers
1. What is the role of the esoteric language of the ekwe, or the drum?
2. What is the name of the clan, and what villages are part of the clan?
3. What is the name of Okonkwo’s village?
4. How do the men express their anguish at Ezeudu’s death?
5. What does the one-handed spirit mean when he asks Ezeudu to come again the way he came before?
6. How does Okonkwo accidentally kill Ezeudu’s son during the farewell dance?
7. Why do Okonkwo and his family leave their homestead?
8. Where do Okonkwo and his family go?
9. Why does Obierika begin to wonder about the justice of the Earth goddess?
(The entire section is 334 words.)
Part Two, Chapter 14 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Okonkwo seek refuge in his motherland?
2. What is the frozen water called “the nuts of the water of heaven”? (p. 92)
3. How does Okonkwo start his yam farm in Mbanta?
4. How does Okonkwo feel about the elders’ belief that if a man says “yes,” his chi will also affirm him?
5. Explain the significance of the isa-ifi ceremony.
6. How does Uchendu establish his authority when he addresses Okonkwo?
7. Why was the name “Nneka,” or “Mother is Supreme,” a common name among the Igbo people?
8. According to Uchendu, what is Okonkwo’s duty and responsibility during his time of exile?
(The entire section is 400 words.)
Chapter 15 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Uchendu say that Obierika’s generation stays at home and even a man’s motherland is strange to him?
2. What are the names of some of the clans Uchendu knows in the area?
3. What did the fearless men of Abame do when they met the white man?
4. Why did the Oracle say the white men were like locusts?
5. Why did the white man seem to speak through his nose?
6. Why did the white men wait for the market day to slaughter Abame?
7. Give an example proving that a great evil descended upon Abame just as the Oracle warned.
8. What is the significance of the story of Mother Kite, the bird?
9. Why does...
(The entire section is 386 words.)
Chapter 16 Questions and Answers
1. How do the leaders of Umuofia feel about the new religion?
2. What does Chielo, the priestess of Agbala, mean when she calls the converts “the excrement of the clan”? (p. 101)
3. Why doesn’t Okonkwo want to speak to Obierika about Nwoye?
4. Why do the Igbo people laugh at the interpreter even though he is speaking Igbo?
5. What is an iron horse?
6. Why are the people excited by what the missionary says?
7. Why do the men of Umuofia laugh at the missionary?
8. Why does Okonkwo stay and listen to the missionary?
9. How does the interpreter explain that the true God has a son but no wife?
(The entire section is 329 words.)
Chapter 17 Questions and Answers
1. What difficulty do the missionaries encounter when they try to speak to the leaders of the village?
2. Describe the Evil Forest.
3. Why is the Evil Forest a strange site for the missionary’s church?
4. Why does Nneka convert to Christianity?
5. Why do some converts suspend their new faith until after the seventh market week?
6. Where does the white missionary go when he leaves Mbanta?
7. Why does it seem like the Evil Forest is going to gobble up the church?
8. What does Mr. Kiaga refer to when he says, “Blessed is he who forsakes his father and his mother for my sake. . . . Those that hear my words are my father...
(The entire section is 394 words.)
Chapter 18 Questions and Answers
1. Why do the villagers think the Evil Forest is a good home for the Christians?
2. Why would an Igbo who killed a Christian have to flee from the clan?
3. Why are the Igbo Christians upset about admitting the osu?
4. How does Mr. Kiaga react to the osu?
5. Why are some of the osu afraid to shave off their long hair?
6. How does Mr. Kiaga reason with the osu about shaving their dirty hair?
7. Why is the python revered?
8. Why do some villagers want to remain uninvolved in the conflict surrounding Okoli?
9. Okonkwo asks the clan to reason like men. What does he say he would do if a...
(The entire section is 409 words.)
Chapter 19 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Okonkwo regret his exile so bitterly even though he prospers in his motherland?
2. What is the significance of the names Okonkwo gives the children who were born during his seven years in exile?
3. Why doesn’t Obierika build Okonkwo’s obi or the walls of his compound in Umuofia?
4. Why can’t Okonkwo return to Umuofia before the rains stop?
5. Why does Obiageli call Ezinma “Salt” while they harvest the cassava?
6. Why do the women put the cassava in shallow wells?
7. Why does Uchendu throw one of the kola nuts on the ground?
8. Why do some of the family members whistle when the food is laid out?...
(The entire section is 364 words.)
Part Three, Chapter 20 Questions and Answers
1. What is the significance of the saying “The clan was like a lizard; if it lost its tail it soon grew another”? (p. 121)
2. How is Okonkwo able to grow yams in Umuofia when he is actually located in Mbanta?
3. What is a kotma?
4. How does Okonkwo want his sons to be raised?
5. Why does Okonkwo regret that Ezinma is a girl?
6. Why is Ezinma able to convince Obiageli, her half-sister, to marry in Umuofia?
7. What is the sacrament of Holy Communion called in Igbo?
8. Describe the city of Umuru and explain its significance.
9. The Igbo prisoners sing a song about the “kotma of the ashy...
(The entire section is 380 words.)
Chapter 21 Questions and Answers
1. What arguments does Akunna use to convince Mr. Brown that lesser gods act as messengers to Chukwu?
2. Why does Mr. Brown disapprove of Enoch’s behavior?
3. What is Mr. Brown’s attitude toward the traditional Igbo religion?
4. Akunna explains that the Igbo know Chukwu as the great creator god because many children are named Chukwuka. What does the name mean?
5. Why does Mr. Brown visit Okonkwo?
6. What is Nwoye’s new Christian name?
7. How does Okonkwo respond to Mr. Brown’s visit?
8. Why does Mr. Brown leave his mission?
9. Why does Okonkwo feel as though he has returned in the wrong year?...
(The entire section is 323 words.)
Chapter 22 Questions and Answers
1. In Umuofia they say “as a man danced so the drums were beaten for him.” (p. 131) How does this saying relate to Reverend Smith?
2. Why is Reverend Smith filled with wrath when he hears that a woman in the congregation allows her husband to mutilate her dead child?
3. Why do the villagers call Enoch “The Outsider who wept louder than the bereaved”? (p. 131)
4. What is the greatest crime a man can commit in Umuofia?
5. Why is Enoch disappointed to be hidden in the parsonage?
6. Why does Ajofia address Mr. Smith by saying, “The body of the white man, do you know me?” (p. 134)
7. Explain why Okeke is not on the best terms...
(The entire section is 470 words.)
Chapter 23 Questions and Answers
1. How does the District Commissioner coax the Igbo leaders?
2. What code of law does the District Commissioner use to judge the six Igbo leaders?
3. Why aren’t the leaders of Umuofia suspicious when the District Commissioner invites them to the courthouse?
4. What pretense does the District Commissioner use to bring his 12 men into the talks with the Igbo leaders?
5. The District Commissioner tells his men to treat the leaders of Umuofia with respect. Describe how the court messengers humiliate the leaders.
6. How does Okonkwo react to the way the court messengers treat him?
7. How is the story of the detained leaders elaborated...
(The entire section is 416 words.)
Chapter 24 Questions and Answers
1. Why are the women and children afraid to welcome the leaders home?
2. What are the long stripes on Okonkwo’s back?
3. Why does Okonkwo have trouble sleeping that night?
4. Why does Okonkwo refer to the war with Isike saying, “Those were days when men were men”? (p. 141)
5. What does Okonkwo mean when he says he would show Egonwanne his back and his head if he talks about a war of blame?
6. Why does Okonkwo grind his teeth?
7. What does Okika mean when he says, “Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, then know that something is after its life”? (p. 143)
8. Okika says Eneke the bird was asked why...
(The entire section is 388 words.)
Chapter 25 Questions and Answers
1. Is Okonkwo’s suicide entirely unexpected?
2. Why does Obierika send for strangers from another village?
3. Why does Obierika ask the commissioner to bury Okonkwo’s body?
4. Why is suicide such an abomination among the Igbo?
5. Why is Obierika so angry at the District Commissioner?
6. Why does the District Commissioner think he is bringing civilization to the Igbo people?
7. How does the District Commissioner trivialize the great tragedy of Okonkwo?
8. Explain why the title of the District Commissioner’s book is ironic.
9. Why do you think Okonkwo hung himself?
10. Why does Achebe have...
(The entire section is 375 words.)