Things Fall Apart Chapter 12 Summary

Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

Jackie has taught college English and Critical Thinking and has a Master's degree in English Rhetoric and Composition

In chapter twelve of Chinua Achebe's ''Things Fall Apart,'' Okonkwo and his family attend the marriage of Obierika's daughter Akueke and her suitor, Iba. Read on for a summary of the chapter and of this celebration!

Previously In Things Fall Apart

The priestess of the village put a scare into Okonkwo, the main character of the story, and his wife Ekwefi in the previous chapter. The religious priestess for the village, Chielo, took their daughter Ezinma late at night to a village holy spot: the oracle that lives in the caves outside of the village. Ekwefi (and later Okonkwo) followed to make sure that Ezinma would be okay. Eventually, Chielo returns Ezinma to her home, and the family has little time to rest before the events of the next morning that are described in Chapter 12.

Okonkwo's Tired Family

Okonkwo and his family prepare for an uri, or the ceremony at which a man's family pays the bride-price for his wife. This event is much like a wedding, complete with a reception at which people eat and drink. Obierika, Okonkwo's close friend, is holding the uri for Akueke, his daughter, and Ibe, her future husband.

Okonkwo and his wife and daughter Ekwefi and Ezinma are all tired. The previous night, Ezinma was carried away by the priestess to see the town oracle in the jungle, and Ekwefi and Okonkwo both followed. Okonkwo hid his concern, waiting for time to pass before he went to the shrine in the jungle. However, he came too early and had to return three other times before he found his wife Ekwefi, who had followed her daughter directly. Eventually, in the early morning, the priestess came out of the caves in the jungle where the shrine was located and carried Ezinma back home.

Loose Cow!

At Obierika's compound, men and women from the village have come over to help prepare for the uri. Women are cooking food for a feast and men are cutting firewood and killing animals for cooking. Obierika and three other young men slaughter goats for soup and discuss the great market from where these goats came. Obierika discusses how the magic conjured up by the town that hosts the market has ensured its success. He then talks about how clever thieves hang around the busy market, and tells a story about some of these thieves stealing a goat from the end of another man's rope without him knowing.

Suddenly, a cry interrupts the activity: a cow has gotten loose from someone's compound. In this culture, the women are responsible for handling loose cows. All of the women immediately drop what they are doing and run outside to find the cow and drive it back to its owner. Once they do that, they collect the fine from the owner of the cow and check to see if any women have improperly stayed inside before going back to Obierika's compound to continue party preparations.

The cow that gets loose in this chapter is the responsibility of the women in the village; these women must find it, drive it back to its home, and gather the fine from the owner of the cow for letting it loose.

The Uri

The uri begins with the husband's family bringing pots of palm wine to the bride's family. As they do this, Obierika's guests begin to arrive. The guests discuss the appropriate amount of palm wine to bring, and Okonkwo vows to chastise them if they do not bring at least thirty pots of wine. Ibe's family brings fifty pots of wine, however, pleasing Obierika and his guests. Ibe soon follows along with his family; Akueke, her mother, and some of the other women in her family then come out to greet them.

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