Ulu, the villages of Umuaro and Okperi, and the colonial officials are all fictional. But Nigeria in the 1920s was controlled by British Colonial authorities, indirect rule was tested as a governing strategy, and many of the Igbo people did abandon their traditional beliefs for Christianity. The novel is considered a work of African literary realism.
Achebe's first novel, Things Fall Apart, tells the tale of Okonkwo, a leader in his community until colonialism enters. Arrow of God similarly describes the downfall of a traditional leader at the hands of colonialism. The central conflicts of the novel revolve around the struggle between continuity and change, such as Ezeulu refusing to serve Winterbottom, or between the traditional villagers and Ezeulu's son who studies Christianity.