Things Fall Apart Chapter 3
Unoka had gone to consult Agbala, the great Oracle of the Hills and Caves, to find out why his crops were always bad. The priestess told Unoka that his crop failure was not the result of the gods and his ancestors ignoring his sacrifices, but rather his own laziness in tending to the yams. Because Unoka was so lazy, Okonkwo knew early on that in order to be a prosperous man in his village, he would have to seek the help of someone besides his father. So he went to Nwakibie, a villager with three barns, nine wives, thirty children, and all but the highest title in the clan. After the kola nut and palm-wine ceremonies of hospitality and good will, Okonkwo asked Nwakibie for four hundred seed yams so that he could begin his crops. Although Nwakibie had refused to give such backing to many of the young men in the village, he gave Okonkwo eight hundred seed yams because he knew that Okonkwo would work hard to make a prosperous crop. Although share-cropping was a difficult way to get a start, Okonkwo had no choice, and to make matters worse, he had to share the third of the crop that he kept for himself with his parents and sisters because his father did not provide for them.
The year of Okonkwo's first crop was a terrible year for agriculture. A severe drought killed the first four hundred yams that he had planted from his own stores of a small crop the previous year. After the drought ended, Okonkwo planted the eight hundred Nwakibie had given him as well as an extra four hundred seeds that he had gotten from a friend of Unoka. Then it rained. The rainy season was so heavy following the drought that it destroyed the second crop and the harvest was so poor that one man in the village hung himself. Okonkwo looked back on that time and decided that if he could live through such a thing when he was just beginning, then he could live through anything. His father, whose health was failing him in the year of the poor crop, had told Okonkwo that he "ha[d] a manly and a proud heart. A proud heart can survive general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride. It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone." Part 1: Chapter 3, Pg. 21