Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 19

In spite of the fact that Okonkwo has a high status in his homeland, he feels that his seven years abroad have been squandered. He could have ascended to the pinnacle of Umuofia culture had he not been forced into exile after the accident. Toward the start of his last year in Mbanta, Okonkwo sends money to Obierika in Umuofia to reconstruct two huts on the site of his previous compound. He will construct the rest when he returns in a year.

As the time approaches for his family's arrival to Umuofia, Okonkwo instructs his wives and children to set up an enormous feast for his mother's family in Mbanta in to demonstrate his appreciation for benevolence throughout the times of exile. Welcomed to the feast are all the living relatives of his ancestors who lived two hundred years ago. Relatives pick and get ready vegetables, butcher goats and fowl, and plan customary dishes.

At the feast, Uchendu is recognized as the most established man; he breaks the kola nut and petitions God for the health of the kids and all the members of their family. As they drink wine, one of the oldest children from the clan expresses gratitude toward Okonkwo for his organization of the feast. Okonkwo then addresses all the people who have gathered at the function and reminds them that families are breaking down as a result of the new religion. He instructs them not to abandon the ways of their forefathers.


Okonkwo's last days in Mbanta are portrayed by his unusual desire to please the people. Okonkwo is not the kind of person to do things so as to impress other people. As his days in exile come to an end, Okonkwo remembers to than his mother's family for the time they have been together. He organizes a big celebration in appreciation of the way in which they have taken care of his family. However, it is not lost on a keen observer that Okonkwo has not lost any of his personalities and he is as impulsive as ever, wanting to return to Umuofia as soon as possible to continue with his life. He hates Mbanta because of what he calls womanly nature and he longs for Umuofia that is characterized by manliness.

Achebe ends this chapter and part of the words of an elder saying to young people, "I fear for you; I fear for the clan."

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