Things Fall Apart | Study Guide

Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart | Part 2, Chapter 19 | Summary

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Summary

Seven years have passed in Mbanta, and Okonkwo has prospered. However, he is anxious to return home, and "he [regrets] every day of his exile." Okonkwo sends money to Obierika to construct huts in his former compound so that his family will have a place to stay when they return.

Okonkwo gathers his three wives and instructs them to prepare a great feast. The feast will be his way of thanking his mother's kinsmen.

An old family member makes a speech thanking Okonkwo for the feast, which is even bigger than they expected. He adds that it is good for kinsmen to gather. The man confides that he fears for the younger generation and for the clan because of the "abominable religion that has settled among you."

Analysis

Okonkwo's insistence on adhering to tradition and expectations is once again on display. The feast must be big because he "cannot live on the bank of a river and wash my hands with spittle." Okonkwo views the feast as both a social obligation and a chance to show how he has prospered.

Okonkwo regrets having left Umuofia. He believes the exile has held him back; he would have prospered even more in Umuofia. Okonkwo also feels more comfortable in Umuofia because the "men were bold and warlike."

The elder kinsman's speech is melancholy. He appreciates when kinsmen gather and strengthen their bonds. He is worried about the future and says the new generation must know "what it is to speak with one voice." The novel's title, Things Fall Apart, resonates as the man speaks of families breaking up and the younger people not understanding the bond of kinship.

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