Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 5

The village of Umuofia gets ready for the Feast of the New Yam, which happens just before the harvest. All yams left unused from the previous year must be discarded, and everything utilized as a part of getting ready, cooking, and serving yams must be completely washed before being utilized for the new yams. Relatives and different visitors are welcomed from a far distance for the feast; Okonkwo welcomes his spouses' relatives. While every other person appears to be thrilled about the coming celebration, Okonkwo realizes that he will become sick of attending the celebration for quite a long time; he would prefer to till his farm.

As the preparations time almost came to an end, Okonkwo's controlled outrage and hatred about the feast bursts when he realizes somebody has destroyed one of his banana plants. In any case, it is just leaves that have been plucked off from the tree to wrap food. When his second wife, Ekwefi, confesses to taking the leaves, Okonkwo beats her seriously to relieve himself of his repressed outrage. At that point he sends for his corroded gun to go hunting — Okonkwo isn't a hunter nor is he experienced with a firearm. When Ekwefi murmurs about "weapons that never shot," he gets his firearm, points it at her, and pulls the trigger. Despite the fact that it goes off, she isn't harmed. Okonkwo murmurs and leaves with the weapon.

Regardless of Okonkwo's tantrums, the celebration is conducted with incredible delight, even in his family and by Ekwefi after her beating and close shooting. Like the vast majority of the town, she anticipates the second day of the feast and its extraordinary wrestling matches between men of the village and men of neighboring villages. This challenge is a similar type in which Okonkwo, years earlier, won the wrestling match as well as won Ekwefi's heart.


Okonkwo detests the rest that accompanies this feast as others do. His frustration with the celebrations is great to the point that he experiences an outburst. He dishonestly blames one for his wives, beats her, and afterward makes a clear endeavor to shoot her. Additional proof of his vicious nature is uncovered when he moves his feet in light of the drums of the wrestling move and trembles "with the desire to conquer and subdue . . . like the desire for a woman."  Okonkwo's desire to express outrage through brutality is unmistakably a lethal flaw in his character. His stubborn and regularly silly conduct is starting to separate him from the other people in the village.

However, Okonkwo shows signs of adoration and love — his first experience with Ekwefi and his affection for Ezinma, his little girl. Notwithstanding, Okonkwo considers such feelings as demonstrations of weaknesses that go against the demand of his masculinity, so he covers his true self and acts cruelly to disguise them.

The measure of the detail included about the Feast of the New Yam, just before the yearly harvest, underscores how the life of the community identifies with the production of its food. The depiction of family arrangements for the celebration uncovers two essential issues about Igbo culture:

  • The responsibility of women and young girls to keep the family unit running easily and to get ready for such events despite the fact that they can hold positions of authority in the town.
  • The irrelevant effect a wife battering and a close shooting have on family life, as though the behavior is an acceptable part of the society.
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