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Chapters 20 and 21


Chapter 20

Okonkwo knows things will be different when he returns-he will have lost his place among the nine masked spirits who administered justice in the clan, the chance to take the highest titles in the clan, and the chance to lead his people against the new religion. But he plans to return with a flourish, to regain the seven wasted years: he will build a much more magnificent compound, build huts for two new wives, take the ozo title for his sons, and still buy the highest title in the land for himself. When the tragedy of his first son occurred, he sent for his five other sons and warned them in the strongest terms not to follow Nwoye's example. Now he also asks his daughters, including Ezinma, who has become astonishingly beautiful and bold and attuned to her father, not to marry until they return to Umuofia. He hopes his future sons-in-law will be men of authority in Umuofia.

When he returns, Okonkwo finds that a few worthy men have joined the Chrstians and also that the white men have brought their own form of government to the village. They judge cases and have court messengers who bring people for trial, and force prisoners to perform degrading manual labor until released. Okonkwo doesn't understand why his people don't fight back. Obierika explains that it is too late, because their own people have already joined the ranks of the strangers, and there are too many of them. The white men have cleverly divided them by first sending their religion into the territory, and only afterwards their government.

Chapter 21

Many men and women regard the white men's religion as lunatic, but disagree with Okonkwo's total opposition because they enjoy the wealth brought to them by the trading store established by the head missionary. This man, Mr. Brown, is respected by the clan because he restrains the excesses of his new converts and avoids confrontation with the traditional sector if the village. In fact, one of the great men in a neighboring village sends his son to learn what Mr. Brown has to teach, without being converted, and even gives Mr. Brown a carved elephant tusk, sign of dignity and rank. This man, Akunna, has sophisticated philosophical arguments with Mr. Brown, which convince Brown not to launch a frontal attack on the local religion. Instead, Brown begs people to learn to read and write by explaining that the future leaders of the land will need these skills. After a few months in his school, students become court clerks or messengers, and more people are convinced to come. Education and religion are taught hand-in-hand. Mr. Brown's health begins to break down from so much work.

Okonkwo is disappointed in the lack of notice he stirs. His daughters do arouse a great deal of interest, but it's the wrong year for initiating sons into the ozo title, and the village has changed so much that it no longer really recognizes a warrior-type like Okonkwo. He mourns for the clan, which he sees as growing soft and breaking up.

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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