“Things Fall Apart” Proverbs

“Proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten” (Chapter 1). Basically, this one means that proverbs are an essentially words of wisdom.
“If a child washes his hands he could eat with kings” (Chapter 1). In the Umuofian society, if you are able to remove the footprint of your ancestors, you would be able to aspire to anyone you wished in the society. Okonkwo could not be respected due to his father until he became the notorious warrior that he was. It means that someone who makes himself great can be with those who are great.
“When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for walk”(Chapter 2). This was an extreme way of saying that the moon gave the tribe the power to do anything.
“A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness” (Chapter 3). According to this proverb, if you respect greatness, you will become great yourself. In addition, this proverb means that in Umuofia that successful men respect greatness.
“Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too. If one says no to other, let his wing break” (Chapter 3). basically means that Okonkwo was ashamed of his father and was afraid of having the same misfortune of his father and the same end.
“An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb” (Chapter 3). This proverb means that someone is uneasy if something is said that effects them personally, whether it was a joke or not, they cannot laugh about it.
“Eneke the bird says that since men have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching” (Chapter 3). Basically, someone must know how hard someone worked for something in order to respect the property themselves.
“A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride” (Chapter 3). a proud person can survive and can go through a general failure because that person would be so proud that it wouldn’t affect its pride
“Looking at a king’s mouth, one would think he never sucked at his mother’s breast” (Chapter 4). Although Okonkwo once was a little baby, it feels as he never could be so vulnerable, because now is so big and robust. It scares him to think that he could have ever been as vulnerable as he was when he was younger.
“Those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble” (Chapter 4). Basically, people who are blessed with luck by the gods, should be humble, and not criticize other people. They should not think they are better solely because they are more lucky.
“When mother-cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth” (Chapter 8). Basically, this proverb means that children copy their parents and learn everything they do from them. It is important for parents to set a good example, or else their children will not live up to their expectations.
“A baby on its mother’s back does not know the way is long” (Chapter 11).
“If one finger brought oil it soiled the others” (Chapter 13). Basically, if you do not treat yourself for sickness, whether it be mental or physical, you will pass it on to others.
“Mother is supreme” (Chapter 14). Your mother is extremely important as she is the one who gives you life.
“There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts” (Chapter 15). Shouting is the most they will do. They will never be the type of person to take physical action, therefore, you should not fear them.
“Living fire begets cold, impotent ash” (Chapter 17). If someone thinks to highly of themselve and their influence is too much, then the person alongside them will never be able to come as successful.
“A child can not pay for its mother’s milk” (Chapter 19). Basically, parents who think that their children should pay them back for taking care of them is ridiculous. This is because the parents are the ones that brought them to life and therefore they are responsible for them and should take care of them by nature.
“Men have learned to shoot without missing their mark and I have learned to fly without perching on a twig” (Chapter 24). Basically, external influences have a great enough effect on people to change their fate.
“Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, know that something is after its life” (Chapter 24). It is unusual and should be looking for and watching out for whats going after it.

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