Things Fall Apart Chapter 25 Summary

Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

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

After the English colonizers that come to Nigeria settle in the village of Umuofia, there is tension between the local villagers and the colonizers. Okonkwo is one of the village leaders who tries to fight back against English colonization. The story of Okonkwo comes to an end in chapter twenty-five of 'Things Fall Apart.' Find out what happens to Okonkwo after the large meeting at which he ended the life of an English court messenger by reading this summary!

Previously in Things Fall Apart...

After numerous escalating conflicts with the English settlers, the Umuofians have a meeting to decide how to deal with the issue. The English believe that they are now the rightful rulers of the land, and Okonkwo desperately wants to declare war against the English and drive them off the land. He also wants revenge for being imprisoned and abused by the English. However, at the large meeting of the villages, a court messenger threatens the villagers and demands that the meeting end. Okonkwo kills the messenger in response. The villagers react to the messenger's death with fear, rather than the warlike rage Okonkwo wishes to inspire. Okonkwo knows then that his clan will not declare war against the English, and he simply leaves the meeting.

The Death of a Great Man

The English District Commissioner of the courts comes to Okonkwo's house backed by armed men, and plans to arrest him for killing the court messenger. When the Commissioner arrives, he finds a number of men in the compound, including Okonkwo's close friend Obierika. The Commissioner threatens the men with imprisonment unless they tell him where Okonkwo is. Obierika responds by saying that they will take the Commissioner and his men to Okonkwo, and they will need help when they do so.

The Commissioner is ignorant of the Umuofians and their culture, and furthermore, he disrespects how they live, act, and talk. However, he agrees to follow them, but threatens to have them shot if they have an ambush or other trick planned.

Obierika and the Umuofians lead the Commissioner outside and around the back of the hut to a tree. Hanging from the tree is Okonkwo, who has taken his own life rather than be humiliated by the District Commissioner and his men.

Author Chinua Achebe ends the novel with the death of Okonkwo, who has ended his own life rather than face further humiliation at the hands of the English courts.
achebe

Obierika asks for the Commissioner's help to cut down and bury Okonkwo's body. When the Commissioner asks why the Umuofians can't do it themselves, Obierika explains that it is against their customs. The Umuofians believe that the bodies of suicide victims are evil and unclean and they must be buried by strangers. He explains that they cannot bury the body, but that they will pay the English to do it. Once Okonkwo is buried, they can then use ritual sacrifices to cleanse the land on which Okonkwo's death occurred.

The End of Umuofia

After making arrangements for Okonkwo's burial, Obierika angrily accuses the District Commissioner of causing a great man to take his own life. The Englishmen do not care. The Commissioner simply tells his men to take Okonkwo's body down from the tree and bring everyone present to court to deal with the aftermath of Okonkwo's death.

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