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Chapters 11 and 12

Chapter 11

The night is very dark and all four huts in Okonkwo's compound have an oil lamp burning. Okonkwo is taking his snuff, and all the mothers are telling folk tales to their children. Ekwefi tells one about a tortoise who wished to join the feast of the birds in the sky, and tricks them into letting him eat all their food. Ezinma begins to tell another story, but is interrupted by the sound of Chielo, priestess of the Oracle, crying aloud in the night and demanding to talk to Ezinma. She tells Ekwefi to stay behind, and carries Ezinma on her back to the god's cave. Ekwefi follows secretly anyway, running behind Chielo. She stays back, but the priestess senses she is being followed by an unknown being and curses her. Chielo takes Ezinma to the common of the farthest village, then turns around and heads for the caves. It is a very long journey. When the priestess enters the god's cave, Ekwefi remains outside but vows to go in and die with Ezinma if her daughter cries out. Near dawn, a man approaches Ekwefi from behind, with a machete. She shrieks, but it is just Okonkwo, and they wait outside the cave together. Ekwefi remembers the day she ran away from her first husband to him, when she just stopped by the hut and he brought her inside to make love. He was as spare of words then as he is now.

Chapter 12

The next morning in the village is festive because Okonkwo's friend, Obierika, is celebrating his daughter's uri-the day when her suitor brings palm wine for a wide and extensive group of kinsmen in celebration of the betrothal. Okonkwo's other two wives are astir for the festival, but Ekwefi is tired. She had waited with Okonkwo until the priestess crawled out of the hole with Ezinma on her back, walked back to the village, laid Ezinma on Ekwefi's bed, and then went away without saying a word to anyone. Okonkwo' other wives promise to tell Obierika's wife that Ekwefi will be late, as she wants to feed Ezinma. Okonkwo also feels tired-he visited the Oracle's cave four times that night before he found Ekwefi there, and had become gravely worried.

Obierika's compound is very busy because his wife is cooking for the whole village. Everyone chips in to help make the meal. Obierika has gone all the way to the famous market in Umuike to get an enormous goat to offer live to his in-laws, and tells tales about the marketplace. A cow gets loose in someone's field and the women rush off to catch it before it does damage, then return to cooking.

The first two pots of palm-wine arrive in the early afternoon and are presented to the women to enjoy while they cook, and to the bride who is being coiffed. As it gets later, the male relatives arrive and sit down. Finally, the in-laws arrive bearing fifty pots of palm-wine, an honorable amount. The bride, her mother, and a few other women emerge to shake hands with the circle of men, then retire. Obierika breaks a kola nut and proposes the first toast. People eat and drink all evening, and at night the young men sing songs of praise about each of the older men, including Okonkwo. Then the women come out to dance, the bride has a solo dance, and the tired guests troop home.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1 and 2
Chapters 3 and 4
Chapters 5 and 6
Chapters 7 and 8
Chapters 9 and 10
Chapters 11 and 12
Chapter 13
Chapters 14 and 15
Chapters 16 and 17
Chapters 18 and 19
Chapters 20 and 21
Chapters 22 and 23
Chapters 24 and 25
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25


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