Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 11

As Okonkwo unwinds in his hut after the night meal, he listens to the voices of his wives and children telling folklore stories. Ekwefi identifies with Ezinma's story of Tortoise, which alleges why the Tortoiseshell isn't smooth. Similarly, as it turns into Ezinma's moment to tell Ekwefi a story, they all hear the piercing cry of Chielo, the priestess of Agbala. She at that point goes to Okonkwo's hut and discloses to him that Agbala needs to see Ezinma. He beseeches her to give the young girl a chance to rest and return early in the day, but Chielo does not hear any of it and goes to Ekwefi's hut to find Ezinma.

Startled by the priestess, Ezinma cries in fear, yet she is compelled to run with Chielo to Agbala's home, in the revered cave and clings to Chielo's back. As Ekwefi watches her only girl left, she makes a decision to follow them. Following Chielo’s voice, Ekwefi goes through the woods in the dark. She at long last gets close to them but makes sure that nobody takes note of her presence. The priestess, however, detects that somebody is following her and curses whoever that person could be. Ekwefi realizes that Chielo has passed Agbala's cave and they are headed far towards another village. However, Chielo soon turns and heads towards Agbala's cave.

Ekwefi takes her place outside the cave. She is waiting and hoping that she will get another time to see her daughter. In a little while, Ekwefi hears some movement in the bush. It seems like there is someone coming. It is Okonkwo. Okonkwo has carried a machete and he wants to replace Ekwefi in the cave. However, Ekwefi insists on staying since she is immensely eager to see her daughter.


The oral traditions of narrations in Igbo culture is a method for telling the history and traditions of the people, for passing on legends and convictions, and for explaining the natural and supernatural powers. The custom is especially very much detailed in the long story about Tortoise and his shell. The story explains why a tortoise shell isn't smooth, yet it also speaks of the proverb, "a man who makes trouble for others is also making it for himself" — another sign that Okonkwo is bringing disaster upon himself.

In this chapter, Achebe presents a circumstance in which Okonkwo and Ekwefi consider their family more critical than the traditions of their kin or even their very own security. Regardless of Chielo's notice about the Oracle Agbala, "Beware, woman, lest he strikes you in his anger," Ekwefi dangers her life for her little daughter when she follows Chielo the forest. What's more, when Okonkwo goes to help his wife and to offer protection to their girl, he shows conduct strange of him — he blames the custom of his clan for allowing him to kill Ikemefuna.

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