Ezeulu's Defeat in Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God Essay

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Ezeulu's Defeat in Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God When the Umuaro people began to encounter the spreading European colonialists, most realized that the colonialists were not like their other enemies and that they could not be defeated in the same way. So, even those most fiercely opposed to the colonial presence at first eventually conformed to its power. However, Ezeulu, the tragic hero of Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God, was not the typical Umuaro villager. As the chief priest of the powerful deity Ulu, Ezeulu felt that he could be subordinate to no one and accordingly rose up in direct confrontation with both the colonialists and his own community. Even as strong of a man as Ezeulu could not fight successfully against such outnumbering…show more content…
Captain Winterbottom stepped in, used colonial soldiers to stop the fighting, took the villagers' guns away, and held a trial to determine which village rightfully owned the farmland in dispute. Winterbottom later explained to a colleague that during the trial, "Only one man... witnessed against his people" (17). The man was, of course, Ezeulu who disagreed with the warlike actions of his village. Winterbottom interpreted Ezeulu's refusal to defend the actions of his village as great honesty and, accordingly, held Ezeulu in high esteem. Because of his trust in Ezeulu and a misinterpretation of the chief-priest's role in the community, Captain Winterbottom selected Ezeulu to serve as a puppet chief under the new system of indirect rule promoted by Lord Lugard. Winterbottom thought that the title Eze was that of a priest-king and did not realize that it was only that of a chief and held no political power. Although Ezeulu did indeed have political aspirations, others in the village, such as Nwaka, were quick to prevent any takeover by a religious leader. Nwaka says of Ezeulu, "He is a man of ambition; he wants to be king, priest, diviner, all" then said that the village must hold him in check (27). It would seem as though a man with political aspirations would have been thrilled

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