relating to or articulated in the throat
Then came the voices of the egwugwu,
guttural and awesome.
a state of extreme confusion and disorder
The house was now a
pandemonium of quavering voices: Am oyim de de de de! filled the air as the spirits of the ancestors, just emerged from the earth, greeted themselves in their esoteric language.
"Pandemonium" seems like an odd state for judges to be in right before they appear to hear cases. But the egwugwu are not actually confused or disorderly. They are deliberately making their voices sound that way in order to scare the villagers into believing that they are the ancestral spirits of the clan.
understandable only by an enlightened inner circle
The house was now a pandemonium of quavering voices: Am oyim de de de de! filled the air as the spirits of the ancestors, just emerged from the earth, greeted themselves in their
an elaborate and remarkable display on a lavish scale
And when, as on that day, nine of the greatest masked spirits in the clan came out together it was a terrifying
First, there was the pandemonium of voices, accompanied by a metal gong and shrill flute. Then the egwugwu put on a spectacle with huge masks and smoke. This is all to terrify and convince the clan into believing with their ears and eyes that the egwugwu are ancestral spirits, so that whatever decisions they make would be too sacred to be challenged.
move or cause to move back and forth
Evil Forest then thrust the pointed end of his rattling staff into the earth. And it began to shake and rattle, like something
agitating with a metallic life.
The staff agitating on its own after Evil Forest thrust it into the ground could mean: 1) The egwugwu have a powerful staff, so their words should be obeyed; 2) Mother Earth is moving the staff to show that the egwugwu's justice comes from her since she'd allowed them to reemerge; 3) Achebe is alluding to the biblical Moses and Aaron's staffs that produced many miracles, including turning into a snake when cast down.
wear off or die down
When all the egwugwu had sat down and the sound of the many tiny bells and rattles on their bodies had
subsided, Evil Forest addressed the two groups of people facing them.
the feeling of patient humbleness
Uzowulu bent down and touched the earth with his right hand as a sign of
Another definition of "submission" is "an agreement to abide by the decision of an arbiter"--this also fits the example sentence because Uzowulu is about to present his case of his runaway wife to the egwugwu.
There was a loud murmur of
approbation from the crowd.
have a disagreement over something
We do not
dispute it, but they are too young to leave their mother.
have a conference in order to talk something over
The nine egwugwu then went away to
consult together in their house.
something of small importance
"I don't know why such a
trifle should come before the egwugwu," said one elder to another.
shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception
Nothing that happened in the world of the animals ever escaped his notice--he was full of
marked by a ready flow of speech
Tortoise was very happy and
voluble as he flew among the birds, and he was soon chosen as the man to speak for the party because he was a great orator.
Tortoise's volubility is connected to his cunning. While volubility is valued by the Ibos because it can bring people closer together, cunning is not because it destroys trust for individual gain. This is emphasized in the ending of the folk story, where Tortoise is justly punished for his deception and greed.
having a strong physiological or chemical effect
She remembered that night, long ago, when she had seen Ogbu-agali-odu, one of those evil essences loosed upon the world by the
potent "medicines" which the tribe had made in the distant past against its enemies but had now forgotten how to control.
The priestess' voice came at longer intervals now, but its vigor was
used of a knife or other blade; not sharp
"Whether you are spirit or man, may Agbala shave your head with a
showing a brooding ill humor
When the moon rose late in the night, people said it was refusing food, as a
sullen husband refuses his wife's food when they have quarrelled.
draw back, as with fear or pain
But at that very moment Chielo's voice rose again in her possessed chanting, and Ekwefi
recoiled, because there was no humanity there.
a large indefinite number
She greeted her god in a
multitude of names—the owner of the future, the messenger of earth, the god who cut a man down when his life was sweetest to him.
charge and collect payment
When they saw it they drove it back to its owner, who at once paid the heavy fine which the village
imposed on anyone whose cow was let loose on his neighbors' crops.
quivering as from weakness or fear
Now and again an ancestral spirit or egwugwu appeared from the underworld, speaking in a
tremulous, unearthly voice and completely covered in raffia.
to render motionless, as with a fixed stare
Many years ago another egwugwu had dared to stand his ground before him and had been
transfixed to the spot for two days.
happening by chance or unexpectedly or unintentionally
Okonkwo had committed the female, because it had been
clothing of a distinctive style or for a particular occasion
As soon as the day broke, a large crowd of men from Ezeudu's quarter stormed Okonkwo's compound, dressed in
garbs of war.
They set fire to his houses,
demolished his red walls, killed his animals and destroyed his barn.
an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
When the will of the goddess had been done, he sat down in his obi and mourned his friend's
causing or marked by grief or anguish
Why should a man suffer so grievously for an offense he had committed inadvertently?
the quality of being intricate and compounded
He was merely led into greater
decide with authority
The Earth had
decreed that they were an offense on the land and must be destroyed.
intense anger, usually on an epic scale
And if the clan did not exact punishment for an offense against the great goddess, her
wrath was loosed on all the land and not just on the offender.