Towards the beginning of the novel, Achebe's narrator refers to yam as “the king of crops,” emphasizing both its importance in Umuofia society and its masculine status. The clan's year is divided according to the planting and harvesting of yams, and Okonkwo's mood and actions vary whether it's the Week of Peace, the planting season, or the Feast of the New Yam. During the Feast of the New Yam, for example, Okonkwo grows restless with celebrations and the lack of work, and his temper flares, creating an episode of violence against Ekwefi. During the planting season, Okonkwo berates Ikemefuna and Nwoye for mishandling the seed-yams, but he's actually the most content during this period of labor, since he can work tirelessly. Yams are labor intensive and considered a man's crop. Only men plant yams, and their ability to support their family with their yam harvest is a sign of wealth and ability.
Yams Symbol Timeline in Things Fall Apart
The timeline below shows where the symbol Yams appears in Things Fall Apart. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...out of worry for Ezinma. Obierika's compound is busy with preparations for the uri, cooking yams and cassava, preparing goats for the soup. Things are going smoothly until a cow gets... (full context)