Things Fall Apart | Study Guide

Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart | Part 1, Chapter 6 | Summary



The villagers gather at the ilo, or village square, to watch the wrestling matches. Early matches feature boys who are 15 and 16. One particular match excites the crowd, including Okonkwo. The victor is Maduka, the son of Okonkwo's friend Obierika.

During intermission, people chat. Ekwefi speaks with Chielo, a widow who has two children. Chielo is also the priestess of Agbala. Chielo is fond of Ezinma and asks about her. Ekwefi says of Ezinma, "Perhaps she has come to stay." Chielo responds that children "usually stay if they do not die before the age of six."

The primary wrestling match is a lengthy affair that looks as if it will end in a draw. Finally one wrestler makes a tactical mistake and loses the match.


Although Okonkwo is generally interested only in work and warfare, here he relaxes and enjoys the spectacle. He has built much of his reputation on the strength of his past wrestling championship. Watching the matches not only relaxes but also invigorates him, as it plays to his own beliefs and skills. In this setting Okonkwo behaves just as everyone else does. His passion for wrestling is clear, and he is in his element.

The seating at the match, with men on stools in front and women in the back, is an indicator of Umuofia's patriarchal society and its effect on Okonkwo, his wives, and his children. The sexes are separate and not equal.

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