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Free Study Guide-Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe-Free Booknotes
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Chapter 24

Summary

Okonkwo and his fellow prisoners are finally released and they return home. They are angry and do not speak to anybody they meet. That night a crier announces a meeting the next morning and Okonkwo brings out his warrior dress, vowing to take vengeance himself if the clan does not. He lies awake the whole night thinking of his revenge.

The next day a meeting is called. People come from villages far away. Okonkwo is ready to defend his use of violence despite what other elders may say. He is tired of making concessions and being exploited. The first person to speak is Okika who incites the crowd and relays to the people the heinous crimes committed by the white men, in the name of God. He makes gestures towards taking action and talks of rooting out the evil. At that moment, five court messengers are seen approaching the meeting. One steps forward and says that the white man has ordered this meeting stopped. Okonkwo immediately removes his machete and beheads the messenger in charge. Nobody tries to stop the other messengers from escaping. Seeing this kind of fear among the people, Okonkwo is very disappointed and walks away realizing that his clansmen will never go to war.


Notes

With the increasing disempowerment of his people as well as the stripping of his own personal pride after being imprisoned, Okonkwo finally takes the matter into his own hands. Because he does not know how to deal with conflict other than through violence, Okonkwo prepares himself for battle the night before the meeting. He is determined to take action after his humiliation at the hands of the white man. His action of killing the messenger is not impulsive, but the result of emotions that have been suppressed as well as fed by the various incident occurring in Mbanta and Umuofia that needed an outlet. Looking at the reaction of the villagers, some of whom condemn or fear his action, Okonkwo knows that Umuofia will not go to war but quietly concede all power to the British colonial forces. He discerns tumult among the people but not vindictiveness or anger. His village has changed inexorably and will never be what it was. Okonkwo cannot save it singlehandedly and therefore defeat is imminent. Solemnly, “he wiped his machete on the sand and went away.”

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