Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 13

 In the dead of night, the sound of a drum and a gun communicate the death of Ezeudu, a respectable man in the village. Okonkwo shudders when he recalls that Ezeudu had cautioned him against having a role in the killing of Ikemefuna.

Everybody in the town assembles for the burial service of a warrior who had accomplished three titles in his lifetime, an uncommon achievement. Amid the service, men dance, fire their guns, and dash about in a frenzy, moaning for the loss of Ezeudu.  The egwugwu spirits show up from the underworld, including a one-hand spirit who dances excitedly and brings a message for the dead Ezeudu. Before burial process is commenced, the dances, drumming, and shots progressively become highly intense.

All of a sudden a sharp cry and wailing emerges from the crowd. Ezeudu's sixteen-year-old son is discovered dead in a pool of blood within the group. At the point when Okonkwo shot his gun, it detonated and a bit of iron pierced the boy's heart. That misfortune has never happened in the history of the village. Once again, Okonkwo finds himself in an incredibly difficult position.

Okonkwo's unintentional killing of the boy is a wrong against the spirits, and he realizes that he and his family should leave Umuofia for a long time. As his wives and children cry severely, they briskly pack their most essential items as they get ready to escape before morning to Mbanta, the village of his mother. Okonkwo's friends move Okonkwo's yams to Obierika's compound for storage.

After the escape of Okonkwo, the following day a group of village men set out to dispense justice as ordered by the earth goddess. The men destroy everything that they find in Okonkwo's compound including his huts, animals, crops and all that they found in the compound. Obierika mourns the departure of Okonkwo from the village. He is particularly concerned that a man should face such punishment for something that happened accidentally. At that moment, he remembers his twin children who had to be abandoned in the forest because of the traditions.


In the literary presentation of a tragic hero, Okonkwo's problems continue with his unintended killing of Ezeudu's child. Just before the chapter, Achebe foretells this eventuality with Okonkwo's thought of Ezeudu's caution about not playing a role in the killing of Ikemefuna. The writer constructs emotional scene by depicting exciting scene of dancing, jumping, yelling, drumming, and the shooting of guns, and the sudden appearance of the egwugwu. The ceremony reaches the climax with a blast of gunfire and afterward grinds to a halt with the expression "All was silent." Achebe underscores the gravity of Okonkwo's mistake by saying that in Umuofia "nothing like this had ever happened."

As in Chapter 8, Obierika discreetly questions some of the traditional practices of the community — this time, the tradition dictating that Okonkwo is expelled for a long time as a result of his unintentional killing of the boy. He goes ahead to remember his twins whom he had had to abandon in the forest because the culture viewed the birth of twin as a sign of bad omen in the society.

The chapter outlines some of the impending challenges to the cultural practices of the people. Achebe sums up this chapter by describing the events going on with the proverb, "If one finger brought oil, it soiled the others." It is an indication that the actions of Okonkwo may have adverse effects on the people of Umuofia.

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