Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe

by

Karim Chandra

Chapter 23
Summary

Okonkwo is revived and feels the tribe has recovered its old ways. He has persuaded the men in Umuofia to arm themselves so they will be readied—not to be caught unprepared like the people in Abame.

After three days, delegates from the District Commissioner's office welcome Okonkwo and five others to his office. They go on the grounds that an "Umuofia man does not decline a call." However, they bring blades, in spite of the fact that they pick not to carry firearms, which "would be uncivilized."

An individual from the Umuofia delegation starts to clarify why the church was brought down, and the District Commissioner requests that he stop so he can get men to hear the grievances. Soon after the Commissioner's men go into the room, there is a short fight, and they cuff Okonkwo and the others.

The clansmen are given a talk about their evil treatment of individuals, and a fine is set. The kotma, or court messengers, are advised to approach the detainees with respect. Rather, they coercively shave the detainees' heads, beat them, and withhold their food and water. The court emissaries go to Umuofia and educate the villagers what has happened. The men of Umuofia assemble and choose to pay the fine "to appease the white man."

Analysis

Okonkwo works best when he is in action. He is happy after the clan strikes at Enoch and crushes the church. The way that the group "listened to him with respect" drives him to think the past has returned, when men made decisions, took actions and were regarded for it.

The invitees to the District Commissioner's office demonstrate innocence. When they take part in the discussion, they anticipate that the talk will be respectful. The District Commissioner shocks them. The fight is brief, and they don't have an opportunity to draw their weapons. This appears differently in relation to the war advice in Chapter 2 when Okonkwo has a dialog with his adversaries and is approached with respect. Okonkwo thought that they should carry their weapons and get ready for any eventuality. However, they are caught unprepared to defend themselves.

The District Commissioner is a crafty individual. He traps Okonkwo and the others. When he has done as such, he gives them a lecture about treating individuals badly. He takes the position of judge and jury and does not hear their side. Also, the District Commissioner shows disrespect to the clan when he cuts of the individuals from explaining their case.

The court messengers are both insolent and remorseless to the detainees, shaming them by shaving their heads and whipping and starving them. Additionally, they increase the fine with the aim of sharing the excess money that they will collect. As professionals of the court, they are far more dangerous than the criminals they handle.

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