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Things Fall Apart Topic Tracking: Religion

Chapter 1

Religion 1: The ritual of the kola nut is one of hospitality among the Ibo. The nut is passed between host and guest, each insisting that the other should be the one to crack the nut, but the host eventually does the honors. They say that he who offers the kola brings life, and that is one of the predominant rituals of the story. They do this to please their gods and ancestors.

Chapter 2

Religion 2: Okonkwo goes to negotiate a settlement with Mbaino because that is the ritualistic first act before one tribe declares war on another. The gods demand atonement for sins against members of the clan, and the offending village offers the traditional compensation -- a native boy and a virgin to be used in whatever way the gods see fit.

Chapter 3

Religion 3: Consulting Agbala, the Oracle of the Hills and Caves, is a ritualistic part of the Ibo religion. Whenever villagers have questions about the source of their misfortune or the future, they consult the oracle and learn the answer through its priestess. Agbala's words do not go unheeded.

Chapter 4

Religion 4: Okonkwo is so carried away in his anger at his youngest wife that he forgets the ritual of the Week of Peace and breaks the rules of kindness and gentleness that all the villagers are supposed to exhibit to one another during that week before planting begins. Because he broke one of the sacred laws of their religion, Okonkwo is forced to make a sacrifice to the earth goddess in repentance. This is another ritual of the religion of the Ibo tribe.

Chapter 6

Religion 5: Although women are viewed as the property of first their fathers and then their husbands, they can be assigned very important roles in the religion of the tribe. Chielo is the priestess of the powerful god, Agbala, although she was an ordinary woman of the village.

Chapter 7

Religion 6: Nwoye remembers passing the Evil Forest on his way home from the fields when he overheard an infant's cry from the woods. That's when he realized that twins actually were left in the forest to die because their religion declared twins bad luck for the parents.

Chapter 8

Religion 7: Obierika warns Okonkwo that the earth god destroys entire families for sins like the one Okonkwo committed when he killed Ikemefuna because the boy had become part of Okonkwo's family.

Chapter 9

Religion 8: The religion dictates that a woman who bears child after child only to see them die is besieged by the spirit of an evil child who will re-enter its mothers womb only to be born and then die again. The cycle can only be broken if the child's iyi-uwa, the stone that links it to the spirit world, is found and destroyed. Sometimes medicine men would try to discourage the child from returning by mutilating the dead body and burying it in the Evil Forest, but occasionally, the children were known to return with the scars of that mutilation at their birth.

Chapter 13

Religion 9: Okonkwo was forced to leave his home and have his property destroyed because he accidentally killed a boy. Obierika didn't understand why such means were necessary for an unintended offense, but their religion did not answer his questions. He was only certain that if they did not send Okonkwo away to appease the earth goddess, all the tribe would suffer for the sin.

Chapter 16

Religion 10: Missionaries came to Umuofia and began converting the Ibo tribe members. They preached that the religion of the tribe was only superstition and that they were in error to worship the earth goddess and the god of the sky because there was only one, true God. Many of the people of Umuofia did not believe the missionaries and considered them mad, but Nwoye found solace in the beliefs that they offered, and so he joined them. The elders of the villages and the leaders of the clan were saddened by the derision of those who converted, but they believed that the white man's religion would fade away in time.

Chapter 22

Religion 11: For a while, Christianity and the tribal religion were able to co-exist in relative peace, but the actions of a zealot brought them into conflict. Enoch was trying to start a religious war by so degrading the tribe's religion that they had no other choice but to fight. It didn't work that time, however.

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