Chike’s School Days

Chike Character Analysis

The main character of the story, Chike is a young boy who is just at the age to start school. He is the firstborn son to his parents, Amos and Sarah, after five girls, and because of his gender, his birth is a huge occasion to celebrate. His parents’ Christian beliefs isolate him from his community, most of whom abide by traditional Igbo values and religion. This causes Chike not to accept food from his neighbors, for instance, because his mother believes that it’s heathen since it’s offered to traditional Igbo deities. Chike is eager to begin school in spite of his sisters’ warnings that the schoolteacher “beats students to death.” At school, Chike adores the songs he sings with his classmates—especially the ones in English, even though he can’t understand or pronounce many of the words. As Chike gets older, he becomes even more fascinated with the English language. His teacher uses long words with his students that impress Chike very much: his favorite words is periwinkle, for example. When Chike gets home from school, he likes to read the stories from his New Method Reader schoolbook. Again, many of these don’t make sense to him, either, but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying reading. What’s more, Chike makes up nonsensical songs with the words he’s learned that engage his imagination and imbue him with visions of “a strange, magical new world.”

Chike Quotes in Chike’s School Days

The Chike’s School Days quotes below are all either spoken by Chike or refer to Chike. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of Chike’s School Days published in 1991.
Chike’s School Days Quotes

Sarah taught her children not to eat in their neighbors’ houses because “they offered their food to idols.” And thus she set herself against the age-old custom which regarded children as the common responsibility of all […]

Related Characters: Chike, Sarah
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
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The neighbor was full of rage, but she controlled herself and only muttered under her breath that even an Osu was full of pride nowadays, thanks to the white man.

Related Characters: Chike, Sarah
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

It did not matter to their dancing that in the twentieth century Caesar was no longer ruler of the whole world.

Related Characters: Chike, The Schoolteacher
Related Symbols: Songs
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

According to the teacher, there were five methods: by man, by animals, by water, by wind, and by explosive mechanism. Even those pupils who forgot all the other methods remembered “explosive mechanism.”

Related Characters: Chike, The Schoolteacher
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Chike read it over and over again at home and then made a song of it. It was a meaningless song […] But it was like a window through which he saw in the distance a strange, magical new world. And he was happy.

Related Characters: Chike
Related Symbols: Songs
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Chike Character Timeline in Chike’s School Days

The timeline below shows where the character Chike appears in Chike’s School Days. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chike’s School Days
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Language and the Struggle to Create Meaning Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Chike’s birth gives his family cause to celebrate—as the last child in his family, he is... (full context)
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...of the white man,” different from the “traditional” ways of the others in the village. Chike and his sisters grow up singing Christian hymns and praying first thing in the morning.... (full context)
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Inevitably, the day arrives when a neighbor offers Chike a piece of yam. Proudly, Chike refuses and replies that his family “doesn’t eat heathen... (full context)
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Leadership and Authority Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Indeed, Chike is an Osu, meaning he is a “slave” to his clan and is “despised and... (full context)
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Leadership and Authority Theme Icon
Language and the Struggle to Create Meaning Theme Icon
In the present, when Chike is five or six years old, he is finally old enough to study in the... (full context)
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Language and the Struggle to Create Meaning Theme Icon
Because Chike is young, he is first sent to the “religious class.” There, he and his fellow... (full context)
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Language and the Struggle to Create Meaning Theme Icon
The English songs they sing are even more mysterious to Chike. His favorite song is “Ten Green Bottles,” though he and his classmates sing with heavy... (full context)
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Leadership and Authority Theme Icon
Chike moves on to Infant School, where the reader “need not follow him” as it is... (full context)
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Language and the Struggle to Create Meaning Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
The schoolteacher has a huge vocabulary that really impresses Chike. He likes to use big, impressive words from his dictionary to make fun of students... (full context)
Colonialism as a Form of Violence  Theme Icon
Leadership and Authority Theme Icon
When he gets home from school, Chike likes to read from his New Method Reader, stories that to him are like fairytales,... (full context)