Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Symbolism In Arrow Of God Themes, Characters, Summary, Pdf, Analysis, Setting & Full Txt

This novel is called "Arrow of God" because Ezeulu compares himself to an arrow in their god’s bow. “Arrow of God” is drawn from an Igbo proverb in which a person, or sometimes an event, is said to represent the will of God.

Ezuulu claims that the hardships he has brought to the village are Ulu’s will, for which God he is the chief priest whose most potent magic is achieved through a sacred python.

Though he distrusts Christianity, he allows a colonial district officer to send one of his sons to a mission school.

To the chief’s horror, the Christianized boy zealously imprisons the sacred python in a box. “An abomination has happened,” cries one tribesman.

“Today I shall kill the boy with my own hands,” says the chief. As chief priest, Ezeulu is responsible for safeguarding the traditions and rituals of the people.

For example, Ezeulu watches each month for the new moon. He eats a sacred yam and beats the ogene to mark the beginning of each new month.

Only the chief priest can name the day for the feast of the Pumpkin Leaves or for the New Yam Feast, which ushers in the yam harvest. Ezeulu considers himself “merely a watchman” for Ulu.

The novel begins with a flashback in which Nwaka, a prosperous man and a supporter of Ezidemili, the chief priest of the god, Idemili conflicts between the Ezeulu over a land dispute between Umuaro and the nearby village of Okperi.

Nwaka leads a group of villagers who want to go to war against Okperi. Ezeulu opposes them. All six villages of Umuaro side with Nwaka and override Ezeulu.

Akukalia, an emissary from Umuaro, is sent to Okperi to announce the war. Feeling as if he was not properly received, Akukalia, in a fit of anger, breaks one of the villager’s personal gods which prompts the people of Okperi to kill the Akukalia which sparks a war.

The war is stopped by Captain T.K.Winterbottom, the District Officer, breaks all the guns in Okperi and Umuaro. Ezeulu impresses Captain Winterbottom by testifying trustfully that his people do not have a right to the land in question.

Nwaka draws attention to Ezeulu’s friendship with the white men who are taking the Igbo land thus Ezeulu recognizing the anger, delays his departure for Okperi and angers Winterbottom.

When Ezeulu arrives on Government Hill he is imprisoned. Winterbottom has become ill so Assistant District Officer Tony Clarke makes the offer to Ezeulu that the British would like to make him a ruler.

Ezeulu declines to be “a white man’s chief”. Ezeulu angers the British administration, which detains him so that he cannot begin the yam harvest.

The people become divided between their loyalty to Ulu and their loyalty to the survival of the community. While the people argue and starve, Ezeulu’s son Obika dies suddenly while performing as Ogbazulobodo, the night spirit, in a ritual for a funeral.

The people take Obika’s death as a sign that Ulu had either chastised or abandoned his priest and “that no man however great was greater than his people; that no one ever won judgment against his clan”.

Because Ulu failed them, the people of Umuaro turn to Christianity, harvesting the yams and taking a sacrificial offering to a Christian leader instead.

Achebe’s achievement is to portray his obvious love and respect for the Igbo people balanced with an honest representation of their lives, conflicts, and culture. 

The Central Characters
The central character of Arrow of God is Ezeulu, the chief priest of Umuaro.  He has three wives and many sons, and has a domineering personality. He is blamed for many of the village's problems which have come as a result of colonialization.

Winterbottom is a British officer who strongly believes in his mission of colonialization.  He serves as a foil to Ezeulu. Despite his beliefs, he is a sensitive and practical man.

Clark is Winterbottom's assistant and overseer, and is unscrupulous and abusive in his dealings with the natives.

Okbuefi Akuebue is Ezeulu's more level-headed best friend.

Okuata is Ezeulu's first wife, who has died.  Matefi is now his senior wife, and Ugoye is his younger one.

Odogo is Ezeulu's oldest son, and Amoge is his wife.

Obika is Ezeulu's second son, and his "heir apparent"; Okuata is his wife.  Obika has a rash personality, drinks heavily, and gets in fights.  Obika dies of a fever before he can take over his father's position, an event which contributes to Ezeulu's eventual downfall.

Oduche is a lesser son of Ezeulu who has been sent away to school.

Akueke is a daughter of Ezeulu who is beaten by her husband.  Her husband is humilated and almost killed by Obika in retaliation.


 Literary Devices in Arrow of God

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
The python symbolizes the old gods in the conflict between Christianity and Umuaro's religion. The python is the religious icon that the catechist seizes upon and urges local Christians to kill. Ma...
Setting
Arrow of God is set in 1920s Nigeria, after the pacification period and long before independence. During these the decades many Nigerians began turning away from their traditional religions.

Narrator Point of View
The narrator has the god-like ability to see into the minds of every character in the book. It jumps from one person's head to another's, often within the same chapter.

Genre
Like the other two novels in Chinua Achebe's trilogy, Arrow of God is a classic tragedy. The heroes in Things Fall Apart and No Longer At Ease both had the same fatal flaw that Ezeulu has,

Tone
In contrast to the darkness of the tale Achebe relates, the tone of the novel is light-hearted, even jovial, sometimes poking fun of the characters themselves, such as in this short passage.

Writing Style
Arrow of God is not a quick read. Dialogue is rich with Igbo idioms, such as "a man who brings home ant-infested faggots should not complain if he is visited by lizards"

What's Up With the Title?
The "arrow of God" is a reference to the role Ezeulu plays in this novel. As Chief Priest of the deity Ulu, Ezeulu is in the enviable or unenviable position of being Ulu's messenger,

What's Up With the Ending?
Arrow of God closes by suggesting that Christianity will triumph over the traditional religion of Umuaro. The people themselves don't yet recognize that by humiliating his priest,

Tough-o-Meter
Arrow of God plops readers right down into the middle of rural Igbo life in the 1930s without any reference point.

Plot Analysis
The colonial administration enters Umuaro. After Umuaro provokes a war with Okperi, the British colonial administration steps in to stop the fighting.

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Nwaka challenges Ulu. The people of Umuaro take Nwaka's advice and go to war with Okperi, despite the fact that the Chief Priest of Ulu, Ezeulu, advises them not to do it.

Three Act Plot Analysis
Umuaro goes to war with Okperi over land. Captain Winterbottom steps in and rules in favor of Okperi. Umuaro loses all its guns and the land. Because Ezeulu cooperates with Winterbottom.

Trivia
The yam, a staple food in West Africa, is not the same thing as the sweet potato. They are not even closely related to each other.

Steaminess Rating
Though there's no sex in the novel, there are lots of dirty jokes. Men see fathering children as important to their manhood. Women are supposed to be virgins when they marry.

Allusions
Norman and Saxon battles (3.18)Battle of Crecy (3.18)Battle of Poitiers (3.18)Oliver Cromwell (3.18)Sir Francis Drake (3.18)Sir Martin Frobisher (3.18)Horatio Nelson (3.18)Sir Robert Clive (3.18)

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