Psycho-analytical analysis in Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe


Psycho-analytical analysis in Arrow of God is what we will be discussing today. Already in the previous post here, we analyzed the psychoanalytical analysis in Things Fall Apart by Achebe

For the benefit of those who didn’t read the previous post we start this analysis by introducing the concept of psychoanalytical criticism.

“Psychological criticism in literature refers to the way in which the work of a particular write is analyzed through a psychological lens”.

This approach psychologically analyses the author of the work. It helps the readers understand the motivations of the writer and why the writer writes the way the does, how have his biographical circumstance affect his writing.

Before you proceed, do well to Read this piece: Amazing Psychoanalytical criticisms to love in ‘Things Fall Apart by Achebe

Psycho-analytical analysis in Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe

In the novel, what makes some of the character to behave the way they do is quest to be more influential both in authority and in power. Some characters like the protagonist Ezeulu, Nwaka and Eze idemilie were both affected psychologically because of the quest to be more influential in authority and power.

Most of the things Ezeulu does in the novel is as a result of his quest to be more influential in authority and power Ezeulu knowing full well that he is an arrow in the hands of the gods, and that whatever the gods “ulu” want him to do he will do later on wants to exercise the power giving to him by ulu in his own benefits. Ezeulu want his people to see him as more influential person this affected the way he behaves.


In the novel before he do anything, he most hear from the god before acting and this is why he asked his clansmen not go into war with their neighboring village okperi, seen that ulu did not give his support for the war, he told them that ulu will fighting unjust war and that the pieces of land belong to the people of Okperi but they did not listen to him and they were defeated in the battle and the battle and the land was giving to Okperi.

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But at some point, he was affect psychologically with power giving unto him and want to be seen as more influential in exercising his power and authority. This is seen in his decision of sending his son to the Whiteman’s school. According to him, him reason his that he wants his son to be his eye before the Whiteman and that if anything good will come of out it so that he will not be left out.

This was an abomination to their clans to associate with the Whiteman. Also, when his son Oduche( the one he send to Whiteman’s school) violate their tradition by putting the sacred python in a box in order for to die there and was discover later on by his mother, Ezeulu is excepted as the tradition demands that he should make sacrifice to purify his family but he did not.

Here Ezeulu is been affect psychological with the power giving to him and that is the reason why he did not border to do there sacrifice, he sees himself more influential in proper than the god (idemili) which the python belongs to.

Another place were Ezeulu  displaces his psychological imbalance for quest to be more influential in authority and power is the issue between him and the people of Umuaro on the naming of the day for new you festival. As a chief priest of ulu it is on his hand to tell the people the day of new yam festival after eating the yams on every new moon.

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After been detain for thirty two days in Okperi by Witerbobta obtain for refusing to be a warrant chief, this set the naming of new yam festival back. The elder ask him to eat the remaining yams on their behalf and let the consequences be on their head, seen that the people go hunger everyday and that the yams are been rusted by sun on the fields.

But instead of Ezeulu to consult the god and tell him what the people have said, he decides to use his power to avenge his people for failing to go with him to Okperi when the Whiteman wants to see him. Ezeulu wants his people to see him as one who is more influential than they are in authority and power and this is why he did not consult ulu.

At the end of novel, his quest bring him down because instance of wanting for him to name the day of new yam festival his people now follow the new religion (Christianity) that demand that they should bring one or more yams to the church for prayers inorder to starts eating their new yam and that ulu will not do them anything.

At the end some elder said their son with yams to church and they start, eating their new yams, which make the new religion do draw more members.

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Also, Nwaka is affect with the quest of been more influential in authority and power  this is seen on how he influence  his people to go in to war with Okperi despite the warning from Ezeulu that ulu will not fight  I am unjust. He told that, “wisdom is like a goatskin bag; every man carries his own knowledge of the land is also like this, thereby convincing them to embark to that war against Okperia. He did this inorder for him to be seen as more influential.

Furthermore, Oduche Ezeulu’s son was affected psychologically by the new religion he joined. The reason why his father sends him to join the white man’s faith is for him to be his eye before the Whiteman, but instead of this purpose he starts behaving in another way.

As he joined the new religion he begins to act in another way contrary to his father’s will and his tradition. This is seen on how he decides to put the scared python in a box for it to die there which his tradition forbid any one to take or if killed accidentally should be buried according to the requirement of tradition, but become of his contact with the new religion he no longer belief in his tradition any more.

Also, when the Whiteman announces that the people of Umuaro should bring their first yam to church inorder for them to go and starts eating their new yams, he was expected to let his father know as one of the reason why he is been sent there. But he been affected takes ulu to be nothing, and has of no power to kill anyone decide to keep it to himself until his father discovers by himself.

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