Things Fall Apart


Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Okonkwo's kinsmen in Mbanta receive him and his family kindly. Uchendu, Okonkwo's mother's younger brother, is now the eldest surviving member of that family. Okonkwo is given a plot of ground to build his compound, and two or three pieces of land to farm during the planting season. Uchendu's sons even contribute seed-yams for Okonkwo to farm.
In Umuofia tradition, family is very important, and Okonkwo's mother's kinsmen receive him kindly as part of the family, even though Uchendu hasn't seen him in years.
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After the rain, Okonkwo and his family work hard to plant a new farm, but Okonkwo is discouraged by his circumstances and no longer takes the same pleasure in labor. He concludes that the saying that if a man says yes his chi also says yes is not a true saying, since in his case, his chi said no despite his own affirmation.
The proverb about chi is repeated here, but this time it's reversed, as Okonkwo has fallen upon hard times. In his sadness, he has come to believe that he cannot in fact control his fate. Instead, he believes that it controls him.
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Uchendu sees Okonkwo's despair and decides he will talk to him after the ceremony for his youngest son, who is marrying a new wife. The ceremony of confession is the last step in the marriage, and all the daughters of the family sit in a circle with the bride and Uchendu in the center. The bride must confess whether she has slept with any other men. She says she has not, and so she is fit to marry.
Here is another part of the marriage ceremony. Note how the bride must be "pure" in order to be fit to marry. No such questions appear to be put to the groom.
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Uchendu calls Okonkwo together with his relatives. He tells his family why Okonkwo is now living with them and then asks whether they know why Nneka, or “Mother is Supreme” is a common name for children, when men are always the head of families. No one answers, and Uchendu asks another question. He asks why a woman is buried with her own kinsmen rather than with her husband's kinsmen. Again, Okonkwo and the others do not know. Uchendu advises Okonkwo to be grateful for the comfort his motherland provides. He says that while a child belongs to his father when things are good, it's the mother who is there to protect and comfort in times of need.
Uchendu is a great talker, often telling stories and speaking at length. Here he tells Okonkwo to be grateful for his motherland, and he does so in a roundabout way that examines the role of mother and father—one is there to protect, and the other is there to own and claim. Uchenda's appreciation for the role of mothers—of women—is notable in that Okonkwo seems only to value men rather than women. Uchenda's view is more balanced.
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