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Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe

Arrow of God (original 1964; edition 2016)

by Chinua Achebe (Author)

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9041614,081 (3.73)108
Title:Arrow of God
Authors:Chinua Achebe (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2016), Edition: Reissue, 230 pages
Collections:Your library

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Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe (1964)

Recently added byprivate library, BrklynOutreach, jmorris501, MariaAleem, BPLOutreach, WillAnderson
  1. 01
    Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two books about old Africans losing their culture. The Achebe is literary, the Resnick science fiction.
  2. 02
    Evolution's Shore by Ian McDonald (wosret)

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English (15)  Dutch (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Not as easy to follow, Achebe’s third novel in his African Trilogy is a less straightforward narrative than his famed Things Fall Apart. Although both novels focus feature Nigerian male protagonists battling with the influence of colonialism, Things was more us versus them. With Arrow, priest Ezeulu also faces a fatal battle with his own people.

As with Things, Achebe sets up the local scene before introducing the white man. Again, this gives the (intended Western) reader time to come around to the local way of thinking and doing things, to gain some level of empathy with tradition. But by the time the white man shows his influence in Arrow, it’ll be the rare reader who feels that what might potentially be destroyed by the Imperial influence is worth hanging on to.

Achebe paints a vivid picture of tribal infighting, familial jealousies and as much disharmony as you can expect in any culture anywhere. For this, the novel is important in showing us that many a myth surrounds ideas of colonists trespassing on humanitarian idylls. Mel Gibson’s film Apocalypto did the same thing in more recent times.

And so, while Ezeulu navigates the delicate diplomatic pathways of his own people, a summons from local colonial administrator Winterbottom throws an added dimension of conflict into the mix. Misunderstandings on both sides escalate an otherwise innocuous incident, and what was intended to empower Ezeulu actually threatens to undermine him. His harsh response heralds the tragic end of the novel for Ezeulu; an end, however, which the ardent colonial would be rather pleased with.

The prose is beautifully poignant, and Achebe gives voice to the people of the Igbo tribe as only he can. But the sheer number of characters in what is after all a short novel and the complexity of their relationships makes this novel harder to get through than it might otherwise have been. Arrow remains a classic for its subject matter, not the refinement of the narrative. ( )
  arukiyomi | May 19, 2018 |
  collectionmcc | Mar 6, 2018 |
This novel focused more on the conflict between the new religion and organisation and the Chief Priest of the tribe. Wonderfully written and thoroughly enjoyable though tragic. ( )
  brakketh | Dec 3, 2016 |
Review: Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe.

This is the third book to Chinua Achebe’s African Trilogy. The book was as interesting as the first two books were. It’s based on the traditional village culture of the Igbo nation in Western Nigeria, capturing its destruction under British colonial rule. Achebe writes a good story that keeps the reader captivated and interested. The story centers on a tribal elder who embodies the old ways so profoundly that he will be destroyed because of the changes in culture and religion. With an extraordinary blend of sympathy and detachment, Achebe captures the human tragedy in the destruction of a way of life in the six villages in that area of Nigeria.

Ezeulu is a chief priest in the villages of Umuaro but with the introduction of White Christianity to his community has brought an emotional tragic consequence to his leadership and struggles with not knowing what God wants of him. It has also brought conflict between his people but mainly it has placed friction between Ezeulu and his sons. It has also brought trouble to the villages of Umuaro and Okperi over a plot of land that Ezeule finally awards to Okperi. Ezeulu is now branded a traitor and reinforces their minds more that he is a friend of the white men when he sends one of his sons, Oduche to learn the religion. However, Ezeulu claims he’s only sending his son to be his eyes and ears in the Christian church as a spy.

As tension rises among his people and famine has struck upon his six villages he learns his son Oduche has fallen within the church’s community and is enlighten with the white men moving in between Okperi and Umuaro who are now making new roads and settling in to overtake the villages one by one. Ezeulu’s older son Obika on the other hand decides and tries to calm down a bereaved family who blames Ezeulu for their grief. Obika goes to them and does a traditional ceremony dance which only leads to his death. Ezeulu overcome with grief, feels abandoned by his God that he has a mental breakdown while the villagers abandon the religion they trusted and honored and went to seek solace in Christianity by offering their harvest to the sanctuary instead of Ulu the spirit of their land. There is a lot of culture and traditions throughout the story that leads to Ezeulu’s decisions.

I liked that Achebe’s written words provides a contrast by having some of the chapters described from the perspective of the British administrators. Plus, the fact that the descriptions of both the Africans and the British are fair-minded and shows the different attitudes honestly than trying to create obsolete modern perspectives on historical figures.
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
This book is pretty similar to "things fall apart". The main character, a preast of the most powerfull Igbo God, Ulu gets in trouble. By Faithfully serving his God it ultimately brings his people against him. The people are not ready anymore to make the ultimate sacrifices for their God, but end up Choosing christianity instead.

( )
  Kindnist85 | May 25, 2016 |
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This was the third nightfall since he began to look for signs of the new moon.
[Edogo] remembered what his mother used to say when she was alive, that Ezeulu's only fault was that he expected everyone -- his wives, his kinsmen, his children, his friends and even his enemies -- to think and act like himself. Anyone who dared to say no to him was an enemy. He forgot the saying of the elders that if a man sought for a companion who acted entirely like himself he would live in solitude. (Chapter 9)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385014805, Paperback)

Set in the Ibo heartland of eastern Nigeria, one of Africa's best-known writers describes the conflict between old and new in its most poignant aspect: the personal struggle between father and son.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:44 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The story of Ezeulu, chief priest of Ulu, the traditional god of his Umuaro people, and his struggle for authority, against both rivals in his own tribe as well as district officers and Christian missionaires.

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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