Things Fall Apart | Study Guide

Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart | Part 3, Chapter 24 | Summary

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Summary

Okonkwo and the others are set free. Wary clansmen do not welcome them but simply move out of their way. Okonkwo's male relations and friends gather at his hut, but they notice the whip marks on his back, and nobody talks to him except Obierika.

A meeting is called for the next day. In anticipation, Okonkwo cannot sleep, the "bitterness in his heart ... now mixed with a kind of childlike excitement." Okonkwo is preparing for war, and he swears vengeance. If Umuofia will fight, he will join them. If not, he will avenge himself.

People enter the meeting place "from every quarter of the nine villages." Okika, one of the six prisoners, speaks to the crowd, lamenting that their gods are weeping and that some clan members have joined the British. He vows that they need to fight, even though it means they must "shed the blood of a clansman."

The meeting is interrupted by court messengers demanding they stop the meeting. Using his machete, Okonkwo beheads the messenger in charge of the group, and the villagers allow the other messengers to get away. Okonkwo now realizes that there will be no war.

Analysis

Okonkwo's return to the village is tense. Others surround him, but there is no interaction among them. He will take revenge and fight, even if it means doing so alone. The narrator notes that the meeting place is filling with people from all of the nine villages. However, other than a brief exchange with Obierika, Okonkwo talks to no one. He has separated himself from the clan members and will join them only if they act as he feels they should act.

Okonkwo's anger derives from his tragic flaw: his fear that he will be weak, like his father. In the new society, his final act of murder sets him apart from the rest of the clan. He will not adjust to the new society, and the clan will not act as he believes it should, by going to war. He is a classic tragic figure, caught between his own needs and values and those of his people.

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