Things Fall Apart Chapter 18 Summary

Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

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

Chapter eighteen of Chinua Achebe's novel ''Things Fall Apart'' follows the growth of Mr. Kiaga's Christian Church in the village of Mbanta. The church continues to convert villagers as the leaders of Mbanta debate whether or not to drive the church and its members out of the town. Read on for a short summary of this chapter!

Church Matters

The Christian Church in Mbanta survives even though it has been placed in the Evil Forest. The villagers decide that the church has only attracted efulefu, or worthless men, and that when it does something against the religious beliefs of the village like rescuing discarded twin babies, they only follow these practices in the forest and do not bring them into town.

However, there are times when members of the church cause conflict. Three converts come into the village and threaten to burn the shrines of the villagers' gods, and they are beaten badly. However, there is no other violence between the church and the village for awhile after that, and the stories of the white men setting up their own court for punishment of anyone who hurts the Christians do not come true in Mbanta.

The church itself does not grow without having issues. The members of the church argue amongst themselves about whether or not it should admit osu, people who are outcasts to the village and who are not allowed to mix with regular people because they are considered to be marked by the gods. The church members want to drive the osu out of the church grounds, but Mr. Kiaga, the church leader, argues to them that the faith of the church accepts everyone, including the outcasts. Even though one convert leaves the church and goes back to the village, Mr. Kiaga stands firm and convinces the other converts to accept the outcasts.

Then, Mr. Kiaga convinces the outcasts that they can shave their hair off without dying, pointing out that he has saved twin babies from being abandoned without dying to prove that his view of God is the correct one, and soon, the outcasts join the church and become deeply faithful.

The Trouble With Pythons

In many of the villages, python snakes are viewed religiously and are allowed to go wherever they would like without being harmed. No one has ever killed a python on purpose, but one day, a python is allegedly killed by a member of the Christian church named Okoli.

This python, of the subspecies sebae, lives in Southern Nigeria and is worshiped as a representation of a god by the villagers of Mbanta. When a Christian church convert allegedly kills one, it causes the village to outlaw all of the Christian converts and raises tensions between the villagers and Christians.

The men of Mbanta meet to discuss what should be done. While some, including Okonkwo, argue that the members of the church should be chased away and killed if necessary, others argue that the gods will fight their own battles and that Mbanta should stay out of the conflict between Okoli and the gods. This angers Okonkwo, who believes that his home of Umuofia would fight the church, but the decision is made only to kick the members of the church out of the clan rather than to run them out of the village.

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