Arrow of God – Characters

Ezeulu is the main character in “Arrow of God”. This post described all the characters in “Arrow of God”.

Arrow of God1

Arrow of God – Characters

Arrow Of God is Chinua Achebe’s third novel, published in 1964, following No Longer At Ease, which with Things Fall Apart is known as an African Trilogy.

Arrow Of God is set in an Igbo village around the time the British colonizers were struggling to find ground in Igbo land. The novel tells the tales of Ezeulu, who was a priest of Ulu— a deity uniting six villages together. The novel opens with Umuaro and Okperi at war over land. Winterbottom, a British colonizer, stepped in to end the war with the collaboration of Ezeulu, the priest of Umuaro. The settlement favoured Okperi. Winterbottom broke the guns belonging to the two warring villages, ushering in peace.

Due to the lack of British administrative personnel in the villages, the colonizers introduced an Indirect rule. They had loyal natives made chiefs to rule according to the dictation of the colonizers. Ezeulu declined the offer; consequently, the colonizers imprisoned him, making him leave his village with no one else to call the new yam festival that was necessary before the harvesting of the new yam. Famine plagues Umuaro as a result of that while their crops decay in the field. The Umuaro people convert to Christianity to harvest their crops.

Characters in Arrow Of God

Ezeulu

Prideful and a husband to three wives, Ezeulu is the chief priest of Ulu of Umuaro people — a kingdom comprising six villages; united under a powerful oracle, Ulu. Ezeulu is partly divine and partly human. He tracks the moon, announces dates for traditional events, and interprets the mind of the oracle to the people of Umuaro. Because his position as a priest is hereditary, although the oracle had to choose the most competent among his children, Ezeulu chooses Nwafo, his favorite son from his last and youngest wife, to succeed him. Edogo suspected that Ezeulu had influenced the god in choosing Nwafo; therefore, he sides with Ezeulu’s fierce critic, Nwaka, to bring Ezeulu down. 

Ezeulu hates the declining relevance of Umuaro. He believed the decline was a result of their frequent skirmishes with neighboring villages. His grudges against his subjects influenced him to testify against Umuaro during the truce to end the war between Umuaro and Okperi. When Ezeulu refuses to become a warrant chief under the administration of Winterbottom, he was imprisoned. He left prison to see his people ruined by the famine. Despite the pitiful condition of Umuaro, which would have improved by his return, Ezeulu refused to help them. He refused to call the new yam feast, prompting the villagers to dump their tradition for Christianity.

Nwaka

He’s critical of Ezeulu and Umunneora, one of the villages that makes up Umuaro. His hate for Ezeulu stems from his friend, Ezidemili, the priest of Idemili, who resents the Ulu’s superiority over Idemili. His oratory prowess earned him the nickname – “Owner of words” from his friends.

Winterbottom

The villagers call him “Wintabota.” He is popular for paving a way for peace between Umuaro and Okperi. Wintabota is the colonial District Officer for Umuaro and Okperi. He frequently criticizes his senior officers but never flouts their orders. Wintabota sees Africans as inherently primitive and crook. He was surprised by Ezeulu’s testimony against his subjects but still retains his views about Africa.

 

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Oduche

He is Ezeulu’s third son with Ugoye. Ezeulu sent Oduche to learn the white’s man language so he could be of help to the village. However, he ended up giving up his tradition; following Christianity and the Western lifestyle. He admired Goodcountry and Moses Unachukwu, who are African evangelists, and fluent in English. Goodcountry once prods him to kill the revered python, but he puts it in his box instead in the hope to find it dead. His plan was foiled by its leak. Oduche finds himself in between the struggle to please his father and the Christian family. Ezeulu feels betrayed after Oduche tests the taboo in Umuaro to know whether there’s a repercussion of violating it.

Obika

He’s Ezeulu’s son, whom Ezeulu admired for his masculinity. Obika is popular in the village for his masculinity and handsomeness, although he has a strong penchant for palm wine. Ezeulu always advised him to stop getting drunk. He never changed until he was publicly flogged by the white district officer, Mr. Wright, for arriving late for road construction work. Obika died unexpectedly during a traditional ceremony, making the villagers believe his death was caused by the angry Ulu over Ezeulu’s refusal to call the new yam feast.

Edogo

He’s the kind-hearted first son of Ezeulu. He sides with Nwaka against Ezeulu — his father — for downplaying him to favor Nwafo, Ezeulu’s last child, to succeed him as the priest of Ulu. He believes Ezeulu has Influenced Ulu to choose his step-brother, hence joining the force against his father.

Tony Clarke 

He follows Winterbottom in rank as the District Officer; however, he is Progressive and optimistic, unlike Winterbottom, although he also shared the view that Africans are primitive with Winterbottom and the British mission in Africa is to bring civilization to the continent. He acted as District Officer in the absence of Winterbottom. After Ezeulu rejects being the warrant chief, which resulted in his months of incarceration, he found no substantial reason to keep holding Ezeulu. Therefore, he released him. After being with Africans for years, Clarke realized some of their traditions deserved protection, contrasting the views of other colonial officers like Winterbottom, who believes the African tradition is inferior and primitive and deserves to be overhauled and replaced by that of the Europeans.

Moses Unachukwu

A Christian convert from Umuora, Moses Unachukwu was formerly a Carpenter before dumping his African tradition to follow that of white men after seeing how British officers ransacked a stubborn Abbam village. He speaks English fluently and conflicts with Goodcountry, who persuades his Umuaro converts to destroy their African traditions. He writes to a higher priest after a tense conflict of belief with Goodcountry and gets support from the higher priest against Goodcountry. Because of his English fluency, he sometimes serves as a translator between the Umuaro people and the white officers.

John Goodcountry 

He’s an African and leads the church in Umuaro. He’s from Niger Delta. He tries to get converts by telling Umuaro people about his people in Niger Delta, who ditched their African tradition for Christianity. He persuades his converts to kill the revered python and destroy other symbols of African tradition, making Oduche trap a python in his box to die through suffocation. Like Moses Unachukwu, Goodcountry speaks English fluently and serves as an interpreter between Umuaro and the white people. He was able to draw several Umuaro people to join his Christian faith by assuring them of no harm if they defy Ulu and harvested their yam in the name of his God.

Nwafo

He’s the youngest and favorite son of Ezeulu with Ogeye. Edogo suspects that Ezeulu has Influenced Ulu to choose Nwafo, despite Nwafo having an inherent interest in his father’s priesthood.

Ezidemili

He’s the Chief Priest of Umunneora, one of the six prominent villages that constitute Umuaro. He resents the appointment of Ezeulu as the priest of Ezeulu, although he’s the priest of Idemili, another powerful deity in Umuaro. He’s very critical of Ezeulu and shows his grudges against Ezeulu when Oduche traps the Holy Python, which is the symbol of the Idemili god.

 

Share your thoughts about the characters in “Arrow of God” in the comment section below.

 

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