A Man of the People Chapter 9-13 Summary & Analysis

Chinua Achebe

A Man of the People

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A Man of the People Chapter 9-13 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 9 Summary

In Chapter Nine, Odili returns to Anata even though Max and his fiancé Eunice try to convince him to stay in Bori for Christmas. When he arrives in Anata, the truck he’s on drops him off at a market called Waya, near the school, where there is a commotion. Josiah, a merchant, has stolen a blind beggar’s stick. The beggar’s name is Azoge. Josiah wanted to use the stick to make and sell medicines. Azoge noticed that his stick had been replaced and started to shout. Josiah barricaded himself inside his shop while people outside cursed him. Within a week he was ruined; no one would buy from him. After a month, Josiah closed up his shop and bar, and left.

On the night he returns from Bori, Odili rents a bicycle to go and see Mrs. Nanga, hoping to tell his side of the story before Chief Nanga’s version can reach her. He is well received and is trying to think of a way to broach the topic of Edna when Mrs. Nanga brings her up on her own. Mrs. Nanga and her son, Eddy, tell Odili where he can find Edna. He tells them that he will go and try to talk her into taking a year to teach before moving into Nanga’s house, but really, he is planning his revenge on Nanga.

Odili speaks with Edna’s father, Odo, for a few minutes and learns that Edna’s mother is sick in the hospital. When Odo summons Edna, she comes out of the kitchen where, she is cooking food to bring to her mother, and recalls meeting Odili the day Nanga came to Anata to speak. Odili says that Nanga sent him to ask after Edna’s mother’s well-being. He offers to take Edna and the food to the hospital on the bicycle. He tries to impress her by racing up the little hills, and it works. She tells him he’s very strong.

Some sheep walk into the road and he brakes hard, but the bike pitches them forward onto the road, along with the food. Odili is embarrassed. Edna laughs and he apologizes. She says it’s not his fault, but the fault of the sheep. He realizes that she has skinned her knee, and Odili regrets that, too. With the food ruined, Edna is worried that her mother will starve, but Odili suspects that the real reason she is upset is that the spilled food is proof of her family’s poverty. Odili offers to buy some food for her mother, and disinfectant for her knee, outside the hospital.

Chapter 10 Summary

Chapter Ten picks up just after the bike accident in the previous chapter. Odili feels awkward saying anything that he’d planned to Edna, but finds out that she is planning to spend Christmas morning helping Mrs. Nanga, and makes the silent decision to go there as well on the holiday.

On Christmas morning, Odili goes to Mrs. Nanga’s, expecting Edna—only she’s not there. Instead, Odili finds a drunk man who demands Mrs. Nanga bring him a beer. He is Chief Nanga’s brother. He tells Odili that Nanga is building a four-story house, and decides with Mrs. Nanga that he should be able to share that house with his brother.

Two hours later, Edna arrives. Odili has hired some boys to dance and sing. Chief Nanga’s brother leaves and Mrs. Nanga asks Edna to serve Odili a beer. He tells her that she shouldn’t rush into marriage with a polygamist. They argue and she ultimately apologizes for an imagined offense.

Shortly afterward, news breaks of large-scale corruption that throws the government, Chief Nanga’s ministry, and the country into disarray. Max summons Odili to Bori to launch their new political party. When Odili returns to Anata, it is with a car and money. He goes to Edna’s home, but she has left for her grandmother’s in another village, so he decides to write her a letter detailing why she should not marry Chief Nanga.

Odili announces that he will challenge Nanga for his seat as Minister of Culture. Josiah returns and wants to join Odili, but Odili fears that Josiah’s reputation will be an embarrassment and so gently turns him away. Josiah swears vengeance before he goes. Odili is harassed in Anata, and decides he must hire a bodyguard and return to his home village. Before he leaves, Mr. Nwege, the proprietor of the school where Odili taught, dismisses him with a month’s salary.

Odili goes to Mrs. Nanga’s house, to say goodbye and in hopes of seeing Edna, only to be chased out by Mrs. Nanga yelling at him. He tries to find Edna at the hospital, but her mother has been released, so he goes to her house. She tells him if her father sees him there, he’ll kill him. Odo threatens Odili, but when Odili simply asks for his vote, Odo’s threat dies and he advises him not to run against Nanga. Edna bids him farewell and Odili returns the farewell with a smile.

Chapter 11 Summary

Chapter Eleven begins when Odili decides, as he leaves the Odo home, that he wants to be with Edna not only to exact revenge upon Chief Nanga, but because he genuinely likes her. He wonders about his political ambition (if it stands on its own as much as his desire to be with her does) but determines that he doesn’t mind his ambition, his desire, and his plans for revenge intertwining. Odili determines that they give him fortitude.

When he arrives home, Peter hands him a letter from Edna. She writes that he is noble and kind-hearted, and apologizes for her father’s behavior toward him. She writes that she doesn’t want to marry Nanga, but that he has offered her father so much money that she fears her father will nearly kill her if she refuses. She closes the letter by congratulating Odili on his new car, and offers her hopes that they can remain friends.

Odili then puts together a team of bodyguards to protect him, led by a man named Boniface. They journey to campaign, and, as those journeys become more dangerous, Odili agrees to them carrying some weaponry. The force necessitating this allowance is known as Nanga’s Youth Vanguard, or Nangavanga; they try repeatedly to attack Odili. Boniface and the others demand Odili give them money to hire men to burn Nanga’s car; Odili refuses.

Odili goes to Urua, where he stays with his father while he’s campaigning. His father is impressed with the car, but doubts that the C.P.C. will have enough money to fund Odili’s race against Nanga. Nanga arrives and Odili’s father welcomes him into the house even though Nanga has called Odili his enemy. Odili tries his best to ignore Nanga. Odili is summoned to sit with them and he learns that Nanga has secured his scholarship and will also give him 250 pounds if Odili signs a paper that says he will step down. Nanga tells Odili that Max has already done the same for money. Odili refuses in no uncertain terms, and insults Nanga, certain that he is lying about Max stepping down.

Chapter 12 Summary

At the beginning of Chapter Twelve, Odili’s father tells him he is crazy to have rejected Nanga’s offer, and that Nanga will not return to make it again. Odili tells his father it’s not his concern, as they are in two different parties. The next day, Max and the campaign team arrive from Bori. Odili is glad to see them, and reflects, “seeing them so confident and so well-equipped was for me the most morale-boosting event of the past so many weeks” (115). The merriment of the group, along with their many cars, draws a crowd and Max suggests officially launching the campaign at that moment.

Max makes a speech and the crowd is with him for the most part, though there are some who defend the other parties. He announces Odili Samalu as the C.P.C.’s candidate. An older man, whom Odili thinks is a local councilor, stands up after Max’s speech and speaks on behalf of Odili, identifying him as Urua’s chance to flourish, like Anata did with Chief Nanga.

Afterward, Odili tells Max about Nanga’s visit. Max tells him he should have taken the money, and that he has taken one thousand pounds from Chief Koko. He says also that the paper he signed has no legal standing, but Odili is worried because he believes it has moral standing. Max tells him they need the money because P.O.P is well-funded by British and American interests alike. He then says to Odili, “Now you tell me how you propose to fight such a dirty war without soiling your hands a little” (120).

The next day, after admiring Max and Eunice’s togetherness, Odili goes in search of Edna, planning to tell her he is in love with her. Upon arrival, Edna yells at him and accuses him of trying to sneak around and collect gossip for Mrs. Nanga, insisting she only respected him because of Chief Nanga. Edna’s brother threatens that Dogo will return soon, and Odili leaves, saddened.

One Sunday, while listening to the radio, Odili learns that his father has been removed from office due to “subversive, anti-party activities” (125). Odili goes to tell his father, who is said to owe additional taxes and has been threatened with arrest. Angry, he writes a letter to Edna, denouncing her as uneducated and writing that he was never interested in her.

Chapter 13 Summary

Chapter Thirteen opens with a message from the Crier. Odili explains that usually, his job was to announce a decision that lay ahead, but in this case, he announces a decision that’s already been made. The councilors and elders of Urua have decided that everyone in the village will vote for Chief Nanga. The decision comes after water pipes had been taken away from Urua. This news goes national as it’s repeated on the radio and intended for everyone in every village, town, and city. After the message is announced, water pipes are returned to Urua.

Odili also learns that the money charged to his father will be forgiven if his father signs a paper disassociating himself from Odili and his actions. His father had refused to sign and later, Odili tells him that he made a mistake. He tells Odili, “a man of worth never gets up to unsay what he said yesterday” (128). He also tells Odili that since he started the trouble, he will pay any taxes levied.

Later, Nanga’s inaugural campaign meeting is about to begin, and Odili has decided to attend. He goes in disguise, without Boniface and his other bodyguards. Josiah is there, and recognizes Odili despite his disguise. He informs Nanga, who issues an order for Odili to be stopped. He tries to leave at first, but then Nanga calls him a thief. Odili ends up on the dais with Nanga, Edna, Mrs. Nanga, Dogo, and others. Nanga attacks him verbally and then physically. Edna tries to stop him, but he pushes her aside. Odili wakes up in the hospital.

Odili learns that Nanga’s thugs trashed his car and had him placed under arrest. They claimed that there were weapons in his car. The arrest prevented him from signing his nomination paper, according to his father. Odili says he’s already signed it, only to learn that the first copy, taken by thugs, never reached the Electoral Office. He learns two days after that Max has been killed. Max’s fiancée, Eunice, shot Chief Koko, and was arrested herself.

Despite his efforts, even Nanga isn’t able to keep his thugs from raiding markets and villages. News gets out of their success, and the nation is swept up in violence by different marauding groups. These groups grow in strength until they topple the government.

Odili sees Edna while in the hospital. At first he speaks coldly to her, but then apologizes for the last letter he sent her. He assures her that he knows she’s the only person who tried to stop Nanga from abusing him. Edna informs him she never got a second letter from him, and Odili and Edna plan to marry with both their fathers’ blessings. Meanwhile, the army takes over the country and Nanga is arrested. Eunice is released from jail and Max named a hero. Odili decides to open a school in Max’s honor.

Chapter 9-13

In this final section of the novel, Odili and Nanga go head-to-head against one another politically and personally. Having decided that as part of his revenge, Odili will sleep with Nanga’s soon-to-be second wife Edna, he sets out to woo her. He finds her with the help of Mrs. Nanga, who thinks that Odili will simply counsel Edna to wait to marry Nanga. Odili is willing to lie to her about his motivations, because he is driven by revenge. At first, he does tell Edna that, because she is so young, she should take time to think and not rush into marrying Nanga. However, Edna is under pressure from her father, who has received money from Nanga, both for himself and for Edna’s education.

Meanwhile, Nanga goes to Odili’s father’s house to offer Odili money to back out of the election, but Odili, offended, refuses, calling Nanga a Bush man, emphasizing the difference he sees between himself, an intellectual, and Nanga. Nanga threatens him, increasing the tension and upping the stakes. In this section, Odili both conforms to the corrupt political climate and speaks out against it.

Odili finds out that Max took one thousand pounds from Chief Koko to leave politics behind. Max has no intention of doing so, but took the money anyway. When Odili confronts him about using what he considers to be dirty money, Max calls him naïve and asks him how he expects to fight a dirty war without soiling his hands. Odili realizes at this point that they have no chance of winning if they don’t play by the rules of the Nangas and Kokos at least a little, though he maintains his displeasure with it. Still, he continues to use the money Max has given him, which came from Koko’s payoff. Additionally, the fact that he’s more annoyed that Max got so much more money than he was offered suggests that corruption bothers him less than it once did.

By taking that money, Odili is condoning its use. He even ends up hiring bodyguards because he is under threat of physical harm, a practice that is widely associated with men like Chief Nanga and Chief Koko.

An important symbol in this section of the book is Odili’s radio. He becomes addicted to listening to the news during the course of his campaign, along with Boniface and his other bodyguards. This obsession shows that Odili is focused on his revenge against Nanga. However, at the same time, he’s falling in love with Edna. His changing feelings toward her mean that he wants to be with her because he loves her, not simply to use her in his revenge against Nanga.

When Odili is hospitalized by Nanga’s men, and prevented from formally joining the race, he ultimately loses the desire to exact vengeance against Nanga, and simply wants to marry Edna. He decides to open a school honoring Max who has been killed by Chief Koko. Odili returns to his goals to educate students as the country undergoes a revolution.

This dynamic character tranforms, becoming much less naïve than he was in the beginning of the book. Also, his relationship with his father is much improved when his father stands by him both during his campaign and in the hospital. Odili falls in love and stops seeing Edna, and consequently other women, as mere entertainment. He learns that a car is not worth having if he has to sacrifice his beliefs in order to get one. His temporary seduction by Nanga, and by the wealth and opportunity politics provide to the corrupt, comes to an end. The country’s revolution puts an end to that corruption as well: both Odili and his nation are granted a second chance at a clear conscience.