Like his father and their fathers before him, Ezeulu is the Chief Priest of Ulu, chief divinity of the six villages that comprise Umuaro. As Chief Priest, Ezeulu is understood to be half-man, half-divinity, and is tasked with tracking new moons and announcing festival dates accordingly, as well as with leading important rituals. As a man, he is characterized by his immense pride. He perceives that the people of Umuaro are losing their reverence for divine authority and engaging in petty disputes with one another, causing him to harbor a grudge against them.
Nwaka is a titled, wealthy man from Umunneora (one of the villages of Umuaro), and one of Ezeulu’s most vocal detractors. His enmity toward the Chief Priest is related to that of his good friend, Ezidemili, priest of the god Idemili, who resents the position of Ezeulu and his god over his own divinity and authority. Called “owner of words” by his friends, Nwaka is a fantastic orator who publically disputes Ezeulu’s authority during gatherings over whether to go to war with Okperi, and before Ezeulu travels to Okperi to see Winterbottom.
The British District Officer in the region. Called Wintabota by the natives, with a reputation as the “breaker of guns,” earned when he destroyed Africans guns to end the dispute between Umuaro and Okperi. A veteran bureaucrat who is critical of his superiors while nonetheless complying with their directives. Winterbottom has a hardened opinion of Africans, viewing them as naturally savage and prone to corruption, yet he respects the noble-looking Ezeulu for testifying truthfully against his own people in Umuaro’s land dispute with Okperi.
Ezeulu’s second-oldest son by his wife Maefi. Obika is very handsome and hotheaded, with a proclivity for palm wine. Though his father chides him and complains about him—in particular his love of drink—Ezeulu also respects Obika’s strength and masculinity. Obika is admired by the village people for his beauty and agility, and he plays an important role in numerous rituals. His impertinence earns him a lashing from Wright when he arrives late for mandatory construction work on the British road.
Oduche is Ezeulu’s middle son with Ugoye. Ezeulu sends Oduche to the missionary school at the church with the hopes that Oduche will become fluent in the ways and religion of the white man, enabling him to function as a knowledgeable informant and emissary. Ezeulu’s gambit seems to backfire, however, when Oduche is attracted to Christianity and the evangelical teachings of John Goodcountry, whose prod to the natives to kill their tribal gods leads Oduche to trap the holy python. Oduche is positioned between his loyalty to his father and his culture, and his clear admiration for and desire to impress his church teachers.
Edogo is Ezeulu’s oldest son with the long-deceased Okuata. He is thoughtful, quiet and brooding. Edogo is critical of the autocratic, meddlesome fashion in which Ezeulu rules his household, and disdainful of his clear favoritism for his youngest son.
Clarke is the Assistant District Officer newly arrived in Okperi. He acts as District Officer when Winterbottom is in the hospital. Clarke believes it to be a civic duty to bring “civility” to Africa. He is an idealist and an optimist with some liberal-minded ideas, including the genuine belief that there are some 'good' indigenous traditions that ought to be maintained. He has less regard for administrative hierarchy—a clear departure from men like Winterbottom. Over the course of his early tenure, he realizes that other administrative officials see indigenous culture as wholly inferior and the natives as nothing more than natural resources to exploit (though he protects the abusive Wright, whom he befriends, in his report). His idealism also falters when Ezeulu curtly refuses to be grateful and obliging when Clarke tells him he is being given the title of Warrant Chief. He ultimately releases Ezeulu from detention because he feels uncomfortable holding him with no legitimate charge.
Moses Unachukwa is an African carpenter and convert to Christianity from Umuaro. He was compelled to convert after witnessing the brutal British retaliation against the tribe of Abam. He speaks fluent English and serves as an intermediary between the people of Umuaro and the British at various points in the text. He comes into conflict with John Goodcountry, head of the local church, over the issue of whether or not converts should destroy the symbols of Igbo gods.
Goodcountry is a convert from the Niger Delta who is the head of the church in Umuaro. He preaches to his students that they must destroy the false gods of their native religions, counseling them to kill sacred animals such as the iguana and the python. Goodcountry speaks fluent English, and Oduche admires him.
Wright works for the Public Works Department, supervising a new road between Okperi and Umuaro. Unlike the punctilious Winterbottom and the high-minded Wright, Wade believes the natives are stupid and lazy, and looks upon them as sub-human. He is sadistic toward them in supervising their labor, and has a reputation for sleeping with native women.
Nwafo is Ezeulu’s youngest son with his wife, Ugoye, and Ezeulu’s favorite. Though still a child, Nwafo takes a natural interest in Ezeulu’s priestly duties, and Edogo suspects that Ezeulu is anticipating he will become his successor as Chief Priest. Ezeulu often gives advice to Nwafo.
Akuebue is Ezeulu’s contemporary, friend, and confidant. He remains close to Ezeulu even at the end of the novel, when the Chief Priest and his family are ostracized over Ezeulu’s postponement of the yam harvest. Akuebue understands Ezeulu perhaps better than any other character. Nevertheless, his proximity to his friend is ultimately limited by the fact that Ezeulu is only part man, one half of him serving as the divine instrument of Ulu.
Matefi is Ezeulu’s senior wife and mother of Obika, Oyilidie, and Ojiugo. She is jealous of Ugoye, his younger wife, who she feels shirks her household duties and skimps on food in order to buy new jewelry.
Ugoye is Ezeulu’s younger wife and the mother of Oduche, Nwafo, and Obiageli. She is known to cook late into the night—an indication that she is slack in her domestic duties. On the New Yam Festival she asks Ulu to cleanse her house of all defilement as she throws her young pumpkin leaves, hoping for forgiveness for Oduche and his affront to the Idemili.
Nwodika is from Umunneora, but lives in Okperi, where he works for Winterbottom. Though he is from a rival village, Nwodika and his wife cook and look after Ezeulu during his detention. There is mutual respect between the two men. Nwodika is an opportunistic African looking to benefit financially from the presence of the British. Though people in Umuaro tease him for doing what they perceive to be woman’s work for the white man, he ultimately aims to establish his own tobacco trading post, which we learn he does at the end of the novel.
Ezidemili is the priest of Umunneora, servant of the python god Idemili. He has long harbored jealousy against Ezeulu for his appointment as Chief Priest of Umuaro. When Oduche traps the holy python in a box Ezidemili takes it as a personal affront from Ezeulu’s clan and demands Ezeulu take action to redress the offense.
Akueke is Ezeulu’s daughter with the diseased Okuata. She is married to Ibe from Umuogwugwu, but returned to live in her father’s compound provisionally after her husband beat her, prompting Obika to beat him in turn.
Ofoedu is Obika’s ne’er-do-well friend. He engages in the palm-wine-drinking contest that ultimately leads to Obika getting whipped by Wright. Ezeulu often cautions Obika that nothing good can come of having Ofoedu as a friend.
Arrow of God Questions and Answers
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I'm sorry, this is a short-answer forum designed for text specific questions. We are unable to provide summaries or analysis in this space. GradeSaver, however, has a complete short summary readily available for your use. It will provide you with...
Ezeulu is a prideful man, but never moreso than when it comes to things that affect him personally. He goes against the wishes of his clan, he insists his son receive a "white man's" education, he refuses to perform his duties as required, and he...