"Things Fall Apart," Vocabulary from Part Three: Chapters 20-25

Immerse yourself in the words of Chinua Achebe's 1958 novel, which has been hailed as a milestone for African literature.

Here are links to all our word lists for the novel: Part One: Chapters 1-5, Part One: Chapters 6-9, Part One: Chapters 10-13, Part Two: Chapters 14-19, Part Three: Chapters 20-25

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. irreparable
    impossible to rectify or amend
    But some of these losses were not irreparable.
  2. amends
    something done or paid in expiation of a wrong
    As the years of exile passed one by one it seemed to him that his chi might now be making amends for the past disaster.
  3. resilient
    recovering readily from adversity, depression, or the like
    But it was a resilient spirit, and in the end Okonkwo overcame his sorrow.
  4. buoyant
    characterized by liveliness and lightheartedness
    The young ailing girl who had caused her mother so much heartache had been transformed, almost overnight, into a healthy, buoyant maiden.
  5. ignorance
    the lack of knowledge or education
    They had built a court where the District Commissioner judged cases in ignorance.
  6. indignity
    an affront to one's self-esteem
    They were grieved by the indignity and mourned for their neglected farms.
  7. dispensation
    the act of giving out in portions
    There were many men and women in Umuofia who did not feel as strongly as Okonkwo about the new dispensation.
    While the chosen definition for "dispensation" can refer to Mr. Brown's giving of towels and singlets to encourage the villagers to attend his school, the definition intended here is "a specific system by which something is administered," which in the example sentence is "the white man's government."
  8. overwhelming
    very intense
    And even in the matter of religion there was a growing feeling that there might be something in it after all, something vaguely akin to method in the overwhelming madness.
  9. expedient
    appropriate to a purpose
    Everything was possible, he told his energetic flock, but everything was not expedient.
  10. convert
    cause to adopt a new or different faith
    Neither of them succeeded in converting the other but they learned more about their different beliefs.
  11. prestige
    a high standing achieved through success or influence
    Brown's mission grew from strength to strength, and because of its link with the new administration it earned a new social prestige.
  12. profound
    far-reaching and thoroughgoing in effect
    The clan had undergone such profound change during his exile that it was barely recognizable.
  13. accommodation
    making or becoming suitable; adjusting to circumstances
    He condemned openly Mr. Brown's policy of compromise and accommodation.
  14. distressed
    afflicted with or marked by anxious uneasiness or trouble
    Mr. Smith was greatly distressed by the ignorance which many of his flock showed even in such things as the Trinity and the Sacraments.
  15. desecrate
    remove the sacredness from a person or an object
    The other egwugwu immediately surrounded their desecrated companion, to shield him from the profane gaze of women and children, and led him away.
  16. imminent
    close in time; about to occur
    Enoch himself was greatly disappointed when he heard this, for he had hoped that a holy war was imminent; and there were a few other Christians who thought like him.
  17. desolate
    providing no shelter or sustenance
    The band of egwugwu moved like a furious whirlwind to Enoch's compound and with machete and fire reduced it to a desolate heap.
  18. discordant
    not in agreement or harmony
    Discordant bells clanged, machetes clashed and the air was full of dust and weird sounds.
  19. grievance
    a complaint about a wrong that causes resentment
    Okeke interpreted wisely to the spirits and leaders of Umuofia: "The white man says he is happy you have come to him with your grievances, like friends.
  20. altered
    changed to be made more fit for a particular purpose
    The times which had altered so unaccountably during his exile seemed to be coming round again.
  21. palaver
    loud and confused and empty talk
    Three days later the District Commissioner sent his sweet-tongued messenger to the leaders of Umuofia asking them to meet him in his headquarters. That also was not strange. He often asked them to hold such palavers, as he called them.
    An obsolete definition of "palaver" is "a conference between European explorers and representatives of local populations, especially in Africa"--this is what the District Commissioner should've meant by his use of the word. However, his lack of respect for the Ibos suggests that he also connects to the chosen definition.
  22. dominion
    a region marked off for administrative or other purposes
    That must not happen in the dominion of our queen, the most powerful ruler in the world.
  23. taunt
    harass with persistent criticism or carping
    At night the messengers came in to taunt them and to knock their shaven heads together.
  24. ominous
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    Umuofia was like a startled animal with ears erect, sniffing the silent, ominous air and not knowing which way to run.
  25. appease
    make peace with
    On the morning after the village crier's appeal the men of Umuofia met in the marketplace and decided to collect without delay two hundred and fifty bags of cowries to appease the white man.
    The definition makes the act of appeasing the white man seem like the right and happy thing to do. But missing in the definition are the words "by giving what is demanded." Achebe makes his view of this appeasement clear when he describes the court messengers increasing the fine to profit off it.
  26. sacrilege
    blasphemous behavior
    Our dead fathers are weeping because of the shameful sacrilege they are suffering and the abomination we have all seen with our eyes."
  27. superfluous
    more than is needed, desired, or required
    One of the most infuriating habits of these people was their love of superfluous words, he thought.
  28. resolute
    firm in purpose or belief
    The resolute administrator in him gave way to the student of primitive customs.
  29. abomination
    an action that arouses disgust or abhorrence
    "It is an abomination for a man to take his own life. It is an offense against the Earth, and a man who commits it will not be buried by his clansmen. His body is evil, and only strangers may touch it. That is why we ask your people to bring him down, because you are strangers."
    Okonkwo spent his life proving he's not like his father, but he chooses a death that's an abomination, which is a word that also describes Unoka's death from the swelling. Unoka was carried to the Evil Forest and left there to die and rot. Okonkwo's body has to be cut down by strangers and buried like a dog. Knowing this, Okonkwo could have chosen his method of suicide to defy both the clan that didn't support him and the British who wanted to hang him for killing their messenger.
  30. pacification
    actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency
    He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

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