Things Fall Apart Chapter 6 Summary

Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

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

The sixth chapter of Chinua Achebe's classic novel ''Things Fall Apart'' describes the wrestling matches that occur during the Festival of the New Yam and share with us the cultural experiences of the Umuofian people. Read on for a short summary of this chapter.

Summary of Chapter 6

Chapter five left off with anticipation of the big wrestling event that occurs with every Festival of the New Yam, just before the yearly yam harvest. Chapter six describes this event.

The Umuofians all go to the play area in the village and make a large circle. The elders and title men come first, their sons or slaves carrying their stools behind them. Everyone else in the village comes and most only have room to stand.

Before the wrestlers show up, the drummers play near a sacred tree that the Umuofians believe holds the spirits of unborn children. The drummers themselves play fiercely, entranced by the music, as young men run around keeping order, something like the ushers at a movie theater. Some of the young men must use giant fronds from the palm trees to beat the crowd back.

First, there is a preliminary wrestling bout with lesser-known young men. Two teams of three boys face off against one another one at time, each attempting to throw the other. The first two matches end with little excitement, but in the third match, one wrestler, Maduka, the son of Okonkwo's close friend Obierika, uses a never-before-seen move to beat the other wrestler and the crowd celebrates.

Yams are the staple crop of the Umuofians; Chapter 6 covers the Festival of the New Yam and the wrestling matches that occur during this festival.

As the crowd settles down and the drummers take a break, Ekwefi, Okonkwo's wife, chats with Chielo, telling her that it is true that Okonkwo nearly shot her with a gun. They also discuss Ezinma, Ekwefi's daughter; as it turns out, Ezinma has had health problems in the past, but Chielo believes that Ezinma is now old enough at ten that she will likely survive into adulthood.

Chielo, while seeming perfectly like any other villager, is the priestess of Agbala. Agbala is considered the Oracle for the town and often possesses Chielo, using her as his messenger. No one would suspect that Chielo was the same person when speaking for Agbala.

A group of Igbo people dressed up for the New Yam Festival in modern times. Okonkwo and his family celebrate this festival with feasting and wrestling matches.

The big wrestling matches with the top fighters soon begin. Two teams of twelve come into the circle and are paired off against one another, much as the young wrestlers in the preliminary bout were earlier. Five matches end in draws where neither man can throw the other, but the crowd gets very excited for the bouts where one man does throw the other.

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