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Chapters 14 and 15


Chapter 14

Okonkwo is well-received by his kinsmen in Mbanta, and in particular by Uchendu, his mother's younger brother and the current eldest surviving member of the family. Uchendu remembers Okonkwo as a small boy, bringing his mother's body to Uchendu to be buried with her people many years ago. Now Uchendu sees him bringing his three wives and family, and guesses what has happened, but lets Okonkwo wait until the next day to tell the story. Okonkwo is given ground for a new compound and some land to farm. He installs his personal god's shrine, borrows seed-yams from Uchendu's five sons, and once the first rain comes he begins to plant anew. He works hard, but his heart is not really in it because it had been his ambition to become one of the lords of the clan, and that does not seem possible now.

Uchendu sees Okonkwo's depression and decides to speak to him after the final confession ceremony for his youngest son's new marriage has been performed. All of Uchendu's daughters and nieces have showed up for the ceremony, and sit in a circle with the bride at the center. They make the bride swear she is a virgin, and Amikwu, the youngest son, takes her to his hut and makes her his wife.

The following day, Uchendu calls the entire family, including Okonkwo, and publicly explains to Okonkwo the meaning of the common name Nneka, or "Mother is supreme." He tells Okonkwo that every child's most intimate tie is to the mother, which is why women are brought back to their own kinsmen to be buried. He says this means that it is a sin to be sorrowful about living in one's motherland. He tells Okonkwo not to despair, because it is his duty to comfort and support his family, and also because everyone present has a deep sorrow-suffering is the common lot of human beings, and not unique to him.

Chapter 15

Obierika visits Okonkwo in the second year of his exile, bringing two bags full of cowries. Okonkwo takes him to greet Uchendu, and they talk over a kola nut. Obierika tells them that a neighboring clan, Abame, has been wiped out. A white man visited them on an iron horse, and since their Oracle said he would break their clan and bring destruction, and would be the first of a swarm of white men, the Abame people decided to kill the white man. For a while nothing happened, and they left the iron horse tied to their sacred silk-cotton tree. Then three white men, led by a band of ordinary men, came and saw the iron horse. They came back on market day, surrounded the crowded marketplace, and shot everyone who was there. The three men feel afraid; they have heard stories of white men who had powerful guns and strong drinks and shipped slaves across the sea, but thought that the stories weren't true. Uchendu says, "There is no story that is not true. The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others. We have albinos among us. Do you not think that they came to our clan by mistake, that they have strayed from their way to a land where everybody is like them?"

Obierika shares a meal with the family. Obierika explains that the cowries are the money from Okonkwo's yams, and that he will continue to give out the seed-yams to young men and reap profits for Okonkwo, but he wanted to bring this to Okonkwo first just in case something happens to him. For example, he jokes, just in case green men come to the clan and shoot everyone. Okonkwo thanks him deeply.

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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