Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Things Fall Apart ch. 14 Read Along

Here are my thoughts and what I considered important as I read chapter 14 of Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe.

  • Okonkwo has been exiled.
  • Uchendu = ou-CHEN-doo
  • Okonkwo cried as they brought his mother's body back to her home town. Only time we've heard of Okonkwo crying for any reason. He would consider crying a woman's train. Maybe we will see more crying from our main charater?
  • Highlighted: "Today Okonkwo was not bringing his mother home to be buried with her people. He was taking his family of three wives and their children to seek refuge in his motherland."
  • Motherland is an interesting concept. I've never heard of that before. Land of my mother.
  • Interesting that Okonkwo's crime is a feminine manslaughter. Okonkwo is supposed to be the most masculine character in the book. Maybe this will change Okonkwo.
  • Okonkwo's extended family helps him in his time of need. Not very similar to Job in the bible anymore
  • Highlighted because it is beautiful writing: "For two or three moons the sun had been gathering strength till it seemed to breathe a breath of fire on the earth. All the grass had long been scorched brown, and the sands felt like live coals to the feet. Evergreen trees wore a dusty coat of brown. The birds were silenced in the forests, and the world lay panting under the live, vibrating heat." Great images in this passage, I can really visualize them.
  • coiffure = a person's hairstyle, typically an elaborate one.
  • It hails.
  • Highlighted: "A vague scent of life and green vegetation was diffused in the air." I can smell this. And smell is such a difficult sense to get into literature--too often it is ignored entirely. But this I can sense. This is what it smells like right before a rain or right after--a vague scent of life.
  • Okonkwo has changed, work no longer holds any pleasure for him.
  • Okonkwo is disappointed because he thought he was destined for great things. Destined to be the lord of the village. But he believes that he was always destined to fail, that no matter how hard he worked he would not achieve his goal. This is a fixed mindset, but also the believe of his culture. How awful it would be to believe this. I doubt I would get anything done ever if I had this belief.
  • Compare and contrast the image of Uchendu presiding over his vast family at the final wedding ceremony for his son to Okonkwo's idea of success. Uchendu is sitting next to his son's future wife, holding the families ancestral staff--presiding over the family. This seems to me to be just as important and powerful as being lord of the village. But Okonkwo just doesn't see it.
  • The ceremony isn't a confession, it is an interrogation.
  • Okonkwo doesn't belong
  • Okonkwo consults with the wise old man (Uchendu). Uchendu comes to the conclusion that Okonkwo is still a child, which I would agree with. He doesn't really understand what is important and/or valuable in life.
  • "A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Mothers comfort us and help us get back on our feet."
  • Finally, Uchendu talks sense to Okonkwo. It isn't all bad, things could be way worse. At least you still live. You need to help your wives and children to get through this trial so they can return to their village. Stop moping. I see some great allusions to Friar Lawrence's speech to Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.

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