Book Notes Chapter 1 Notes from Things Fall Apart

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Things Fall Apart Chapter 1

Okonkwo is a well-known man among Umuofia, the collective name of his village and the other nine surrounding villages. Okonkwo's fame came more than twenty years ago when he defeated Amaline the Cat in a wrestling match. Amaline had been undefeated for seven years before Okonkwo beat him, and that's how Okonkwo's fame spread. Okonkwo is a severe-looking man who talks with a stammer, so that when he gets angry, he's better understood by his fists than his words.

Topic Tracking: Status 1

Unoka, Okonkwo's father, died ten years ago and left his enormous debts to his neighbors unpaid. Okonkwo hated his father because the man was lazy and a coward. He enjoyed playing his flute and having a good time with his neighbors. He never bought himself a title, as prominent, respectable men of the village were expected to, and he could never afford more than one wife, either. Once Okoye, one of Unoka's creditors, came to visit. Unoka brought out a kola nut for his guest and after some polite conversation about who should break the nut, Unoka finally did the honors with prayers to his ancestors for life, health, and protection from enemies. Meanwhile, Okoye used a piece of chalk he'd brought with him to paint his toe and draw a few lines on the floor in a ritualistic fashion. After they had eaten the kola, Okoye spoke for a long time using ancient proverbs to come to his point as was customary in the Ibo culture. He had come to claim payment of the two hundred cowries that Unoka owed him from two years prior so that he could fund the feast for acquiring his new title of Idemili, which was the third highest title in the land. Hearing Okoye's request, Unoka burst into laughter and pointed toward a wall of his mud house that was covered in chalk markings aligned in columns. It was a record of Unoka's debts and they were numerous. Unoka insisted that he would pay Okoye, but not until he'd paid his larger debts first.

Topic Tracking: Religion 1
Topic Tracking: Status 2

When Unoka died, his debts were unpaid, but the Ibo people didn't hold that against Okonkwo, who seemed destined for a greater life than his father's because he'd already started making a name for himself. Okonkwo was revered as one of the greatest men of his time because although he was young, he'd already taken two titles, acquired three wives, owned two barns full of yams, and shown great skill in two inter-tribal wars. His prestige presented him with the duty of looking after Ikemefuna, a boy from a neighboring village who had been sacrificed to Umuofia to avoid warfare and bloodshed.

Topic Tracking: Status 3

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