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Things Fall Apart Chapter 3 Summary

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  • 0:00 Okonkwo's Fears
  • 0:50 Village Customs
  • 2:01 Bad Luck
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

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

The third chapter of Chinua Achebe's classic novel ''Things Fall Apart'' gives us more insight into the main character, Okonkwo. Read on to find out what happens in this chapter!

Okonkwo's Fears

Chapter 3 of Things Fall Apart recounts Okonkwo's attempts to become financially and socially successful. Unlike with most men in his village, his father Unoka died in debt and did not leave him with title, barn, or wife. Unoka was clueless about the hard work needed to have a strong harvest. He once went to the village priestess, Agbala, to find out why his harvests failed and she stated that, even though he made the proper sacrifices to his ancestors, he did not work hard enough to grow yams properly. Unoka did not do the work needed to become successful. Unoka was also considered unlucky, for he died of a disease that swells the body. The village believed this to be an abomination to the earth.

Village Customs

Okonkwo, fearing the same fate as his father, confided in a very successful man named Nwakibie. In a meeting that involves Okonkwo bringing a caffeinated kola nut, he formally asks Nwakibie to loan him yam seeds. After a prayer and a ceremony involving the eating of the kola and drinking of the wine, first by the men and later by their wives in order of marriage, the men make conversation and reveal quite a bit about the customs and interests of the village. They talk about a palm-wine tapper who climbs trees to gather palm oil and sap for wine and give the dregs from the wine to a young man who has just been married because they believe that the dregs will improve his sex life.

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