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Chapters 22 and 23

Chapter 22

Mr. Brown's successor is the Reverend James Smith, who openly condemns the sort of accommodation and compromise that Brown practiced. Smith sees things as "black and white. And black was evil." He preaches of the world as a battlefield, and is distressed that Brown emphasized numbers over absolutely correct understanding of church doctrine. Smith eggs on the over-zealous converts, including one Enoch, the son of the snake-priest, and a man believed to have earned his father's curse by killing and eating the sacred python.

Enoch is small man with excessive energy that frequently erupts into quarrels. One day the ewugwu are abroad to celebrate the earth goddess on a Sunday, and the Christian women therefore cannot get home, because women aren't allowed to see the ceremony. Their men beg the ewugwu to retire for a short bit to let the women pass. The spirits agree, but Enoch taunts them by saying they would never dare touch a Christian. An ewugwu promptly hits him with a cane. Then Enoch does the most terrible thing possible to enrage the clan-he unmasks the ewugwu or masked spirit of the ancestor, killing the ancestral spirit. The other ewugwu surround their desecrated companion and lead him away. That night the Mother of Spirits walks the length and breadth of the clan, weeping, for her murdered son. It sounds as though the soul of the tribe is weeping for a great evil-its coming death.

The next day all the masked ewugwu of all the neighboring villages assemble in Umuofia's marketplace. They destroy Enoch's compound and head for the church. Smith hides Enoch in the parsonage, destroying Enoch's hopes of a holy war. Smith walks out to meet the approaching spirits, even though he is terrified for the first time. The spirits rush through the church gate and the oldest of them addresses Smith, calming the others. He tells Smith to go home, that they will not harm him for the sake of the memory of Mr. Brown, but that they must destroy the church to appease their anger. Smith tells them to go away, and he will deal with the problem according to his customs. But the leader, Ajofia, laughs bitterly and replies that he does not understand Smith's customs, just as Smith does not understand his, and therefore that is not possible and the church must be destroyed. It is reduced to ashes, but the people are spared, and for a time the spirit of the clan is pacified.

Chapter 23

Okonkwo has a feeling akin to happiness for the first time in many years. The village has acted like warriors. When the District Commissioner returns, however, village leaders are summoned to talk to him. They bring machetes but not guns, as that would be unseemly, and the Commissioner calls in interpreters to help them explain the situation. Ogbuefi Ekwueme begins to tell the story, but before he can armed guards rush through the door instead of interpreters, and the men are handcuffed and ill-treated at the hands of the court messengers. The chiefs are told they will be released if they pay two hundred bags of cowries, and when the court messengers spread the word to the people they announce that the fine is two hundred and fifty bags, so that they can keep the extra fifty. Rumors exaggerate the problem, claiming that the leaders will be hanged in Umuru if the fine is not paid.

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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