Things Fall Apart


Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

The whole village attends the wrestling match. The initial matches begin with younger boys—15 or 16—and these matches are generally just to set the scene, but Obierika's son Maduka wins some fame by finishing his match extremely quickly. During a break in the wrestling, Ekwefi speaks with Chielo, the priestess of the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves. Chielo calls Ezinma “my daughter,” and asks about the girl's health. She tells Ekwefi that she thinks Ezinma will stay—or live—since children usually don't die after the age of six.
Masculinity and strength are valued in Umuofia culture, so it makes sense that wrestling is such a big tradition. Here we also meet the priestess Chielo, who embodies the way in which ordinary people of the clan represent gods and goddesses (the egwugwu are another example). As she and Ekwefi discuss Ezinma, the question of fate appears—they are unsure whether she will live or die, and it is out of their hands.
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The drumming begins again after the break, and two wrestling teams face off. The last match is between the leaders of the teams, and the year before, neither had thrown the other, and the judges had decided they were evenly matched. As the two leaders, Ikezue and Okafu, struggle, it looks like they will be evenly matched again this year—until Ikezue grows desperate and makes a mistake, and Okafu wins the match. Everyone carries him off, singing a song celebrating the strength and fighting prowess of Okafu.
Drums appear during most festivals and celebrations in the novel, and they also signal town meetings. Here, they signal the start of the wrestling match, and two of the village leaders wrestle in a show of masculine strength.
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