Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapter 19

Summary

Although Okonkwo has achieved status in his motherland, he feels that his seven years in exile have been wasted. He could have risen to the peak of Umuofian society if he had not been forced into exile. At the beginning of his last year in Mbanta, Okonkwo sends money to Obierika in Umuofia to rebuild two huts on the site of his burned-out compound. He will build the remainder when he returns in a year.

As the time approaches for his family's return to Umuofia, Okonkwo instructs his wives and children to prepare a huge feast for his mother's kinsmen in Mbanta in a gesture to show his gratitude for kindness over the years of exile. Invited to the feast are all the living descendants of an ancestor who lived two hundred years earlier. Family members pick and prepare vegetables, slaughter goats and fowl, and prepare traditional dishes.

At the feast, Uchendu is honored as the oldest man at the feast; he breaks the kola nut and prays for health and children. As they drink wine, one of the oldest members of the clan thanks Okonkwo for his generosity in providing the magnificent feast. He then addresses the young people of the clan, disheartened at seeing the bonds of family and village breaking down as the Christians pull so many of the clan away, even from within families. He fears for the future of the young people and for the survival of the clan itself.

Analysis

Okonkwo's final days in Mbanta are characterized by his usual striving to impress, never doing anything by halves. He expresses his thanks to his motherland's relatives with an extravagant celebration. Okonkwo's rigid, impulsive behavior hasn't changed during his seven years in Mbanta, and he is eager to return to Umuofia to make up for lost time. He reveres Umuofia because of its strong and masculine community, unlike Mbanta, which he labels a womanly clan.

Achebe ends the chapter and Part Two with a foreshadowing of what is to follow: An elder member of the clan tells the young people, "I fear for you; I fear for the clan."

Glossary

wherewithal that with which something can be done; necessary means.

egusi melon seeds prepared for a soup.

I cannot live on the bank of a river and wash my hands with spittle. One must act according to one's fortune and circumstances; spittle is one's spit.

umunna the extended family, the clan.

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