The Plot Spot plot summary:
Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe (1959)
Chapter 1--Okonkwo’s father had been a lazy and improvident alcoholic. He had died without title and heavily in debt. Fortunately for Okonkwo, men in Umuofia were judged by their own worth and not the worth of their father. Okonkwo was still young but he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in the nine villages. He had shown incredible prowess in two inter-tribal wars, taken two titles, become a wealthy farmer, and had just married his third wife. He was already one of the greatest men of his time. Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered.
Chapter 2—The village crier called out to all men to meet in the morning. At the meeting it was described how a clan woman had visited the market in Mbaino and been killed. The men decided on the normal course of action. An ultimatum would be dispatched to Mbaino asking them to choose between war and the offer of a young man and a virgin as compensation.
Umuofia was feared by all its neighbors because it was strong in both war and magic. However, they never went to war unless it was justified and sanctioned by the Oracle. Okonkwo was sent to Mbaino as the war emissary. He returned two days later with a young virgin and a fifteen year old boy named Ikemefuna. The virgin was given to the man who had lost his wife and the elders asked Okonkwo to look after Ikemefuna until they decided what to do with him.
Thomas Crane Library, Quincy MA, USA
Chapter 3—Since he had been very young, Okonkwo had worked hard and steadily to build his wealth. At first he had to ask a rich neighbor for yam seeds so that he could start out as a share cropper. He only kept thirty percent of the harvest and still had to support his father’s household, but eventually he started to build up his wealth and reputation.
Chapter 4—For a few weeks Ikemefuna was fearful of his new surroundings and sad to be away from home. But he gradually showed his lively nature and became popular within the household. Okonkwo even grew fond of him. He never let this fondness show because he believed that the only emotion that should be expressed was anger. He thought this demonstrated his strength. During the Week of Peace, Okonkwo’s youngest wife forgot to cook his afternoon meal one day. He beat her severely, although violence of any kind was forbidden during the sacred week. He repented for his actions with offerings to the gods, but everyone still wondered whether his great successes were affecting his ego. When the Week of Peace was over it was time for everyone to begin to clear brush to build new farms. The growing season had begun.