Civil Peace Summary

The story “Civil Peace” was written by a renown Nigerian novelist, poet, professor and critic, Chinua Achebe. Through this story, he has shown the remaining effects of the Nigerian Civil War on the people and the “civil peace” that followed. Nigeria became an independent nation from the British colony in 1960. The Nigerian Civil War began in 1967 when Igbo tried to separate from Nigeria to form the independent Republic of Biafra. After enduring three years of bloody battles, the Ibo were forced to surrender in 1970, ending the war. Biafrans suffered a severe famine (lack of food) due to the effect of war and nearly a million people died of starvation (from hunger)

The main character in this story is Jonathan Iwegbu. He took himself as an ‘extra-ordinarily lucky’ because he was saved in the war along with his wife and his three children out of four. He got his bicycle back from the place where he had buried it with the dead body of his youngest son; which added more happiness in his life. He was an optimistic person; so whatever happened he became happy and thought it would do better in the future. He had a faith in God. He frequently expressed the line -“Nothing puzzles God. He suspected the government officers because they were also corrupted because of the effect of the war.

He could run his life and adjust himself according to the situation and his family’s demand. He gave a due priority to his family because he knew that family was the main source of happiness to share everything. He drove a taxi and made a little money; and at the end of fortnight (fifteen days) he had made a small fortune of one hundred and fifteen pounds.

After it, he went to Enugu where he saw another miracle and that was his house which was not completely collapsed in the war. Although the doors, windows and five sheets of zinc were missing, he became exceedingly delighted because he got his monumental blessing and again uttered the same line- “Nothing puzzles God.” He collected bits of old zinc, wood and soggy sheets of cardboard lying around the neighbourhood to repair his small house. He made a carpenter fix the door, windows, and the roof with his one old hammer, a blunt plane and a few bent and rusty nails. He paid five Nigerian shillings or Biafran pounds happily. With his extreme joy, he took his family in the house. His wife also started a small hotel/bar to serve her neighbours akara balls (deep fried balls of ground beans), and palm wine with his help. His children also helped them selling mangoes near the military grave so that they could have more money for their happy and prosperous life in the future. Not only this much but also he received twenty pounds as ex-gratia award for the rebel money he had turned in from the Treasury.

He very carefully and cautiously kept the money for its safety because there was a huge crowd; from which any one could look at his money and that could be robbed. He shared his happiness with his family members. That night, there was not any noise from the neighbours. He thought they all fell asleep early. Furthermore, he thought even the night watch watchman (security person) also fell asleep. A gang of robbers knocked at his door and asked him to give them money. He said to them that he did not have any money. He went to the door followed by his wife and children. They shouted for a help with neighbours and police but no one came to help them. The robbers were also very free and sure that no one would help them. They forced him to give them money and finally he gave his twenty pounds to them. His wife and children were very worried about it but he comforted them and convinced to have better days. The next day, they continued their daily routine to smoothen their life and uttered-“Nothing puzzles God”. This story has given a clear picture about the condition of the Nigerians after the war they have faced.

Civil Peace Questions And Answer: Understanding the text.

Answer the following questions. 

a.Why did Jonathan think of himself as ‘extraordinarily lucky’? 

Ans: Jonathan thought of himself as ‘extraordinarily lucky’ because he and his family with his house, were saved in the Nigerian war. In addition to it, he got his bicycle back and could repair his house in a low cost.

b.What are the five blessings’ for which Jonathan is grateful ? 

Ans : The ‘five blessings’ for which Jonathan is grateful are:

i.his head,

ii.his wife’s head, and

iii.the three children’s heads out of their four children. The five family members were saved from the war.

c.Why did Jonathan mistrust the officer who wanted to take his bicycle? What does this tell you about the situation in Nigeria? 

Ans: Jonathan mistrusted the officer who wanted to take his bicycle because the officer accepted a bribe to exchange with his bicycle. This tells us that the situation in Nigeria was very worse as there was a lack of trust and peace because of the war and poverty. Even the government officers were corrupted because they also expected profits from the citizens in the name of the law.

d.What visitors might be at the door? Are Jonathan and his wife completely surprised? Explain. 

Ans: The visitors might be the robbers at the door. Yes, Jonathan and his family are completely surprised. Then he shouted for a help. But there was a silence and he thought that his neighbours fell asleep and it was just for a while. He again heard the voices. So he and his family were totally paralysed by terror. His wife and the children sobbed inaudibly like lost souls and Jonathan groaned continuously. 

e.Why does no one in the neighbourhood respond when the thieves pound on Jonathan’s door? Why do the thieves call for the police?

Ans: No one in the neighbourhood responds when the thieves pound on Jonathan’s door because the neighbours were also afraid of robbers that they might rob them instead of Jonathan. So they remained silence. The thieves called the police because the situation was so worse and even the police were corrupted and they would not come as they were also not able to keep peace and harmony completely after the war. The war left the long-term effects there.

Reference to the context

a.What does Jonathan mean by his expression “Nothing puzzles God”? What does this expression reveal about his character? Explain by citing details from the story. “

Ans: Jonathan uses this expression “Nothing puzzles God” frequently whenever something miraculous happens in his life after the war. He uses this expression when he gets his bicycle back in a fine condition which he has not expected at all. Next time, he uses it when he finds that his house is not entirely collapsed and it is still standing after the war. He means through this expression that anything can happen in life but the Almighty is not surprised because He knows each and every thing as He is omnipotent and omnipresent. He also means to say through this expression that no one can cheat the God. The last time, he uses it at the end of the story after his family is robbed. This expression reveals that he has a faith in God and he is hopeful for all his goodness. So he is depended upon the mercy of God. He feels so happy to get unexpected things in his life. It also reveals that he is a good person who enjoys everything he has but never laments on his losses. 

b. How does Jonathan change as he experiences the conflicts in his life? Explain. 

Ans: Jonathan is a hardworking person. He is optimistic too. He believes in his hard work. He has an extreme faith in God that He is omnipotent and omnipresent and no one can cheat Him. He has experienced many conflicts in his life. He has lost his child during the war but he believes himself as an ‘extraordinarily lucky’ to get five inestimable blessings, i.e. he himself, his wife and his three children out of four. Jonathan keeps on doing his hard works for the sake and welfare of his family. He changes according to the situations and the needs of his family. He remains happy because he is optimistic to have better situations next.

c. Read the extract and answer the questions below. .

“To God who made me; if you come inside and find one hundred pounds, take it and shoot me and shoot my wife and children. I swear to God. The only money I have in this life is this twenty pounds egg-rasher they gave me today …”

i. Who is the speaker ? 

Ans: Jonathan is the speaker.

ii. Who is the speaker talking to? 

Ana: The speaker is talking to the robbers/thieves.

iii. Who does “they” refer to ? 

Ans: .”They” refers to the government officials.

d.Nigerian English has words like soja ‘soldier’ and katakata ‘confusion’, ‘trouble’ derived apparently from English words but transformed by native languages’ phonologies. What does the author’s use of dialect here add to the story? 

Ans: Nigerian English has words like Soja “soldier” and katakata “confusion”, “trouble” derived apparently from English words but transformed by Native language phonologies. The author uses the dialect here to add the following things to the story to:

i.preserve and promote their dialect (language);

ii.focus on the native language;

iii.bring a new taste in the story (literature);

Iv. be familiar with the status of people in their country;

V.promote their nationality; and

vi. strengthen their unity and fraternity.

e.Why do you think the thieves who come to rob Jonathan speak English with a heavier African accent than Jonathan does ?

Ans: I think the thieves who came to rob Jonathan speak English with a heavier African accent than Jonathan does because they are not much educated and cannot produce all grammatical utterances correctly; they are from root level struggling to survive. And also, they use broken English to show power, and strength to rob him.

f.The title of the story “Civil Peace” itself is ironical as there is little to differentiate ‘civil peace’ from ‘civil war’. Do you think that the title of this story is appropriate, or would “Civil War have been a better title ? Explain. 

Ans: The title of the story “Civil Peace” itself is ironical as there is little to differentiate ‘civil peace’ from ‘civil war’. I think the title of this story is appropriate because ironical expression is a way of presenting an idea as a satire to convey the message very effectively and meaningfully. To be civil

peace, there should be complete peace and harmony in which people trust each other with the feeling of co-operation, unity and fraternity. But in Nigeria, after the war, there is not a direct war that the citizens are involving in killing. They cannot trust the government officials and police because of their corrupted behavior. Life of the people is not changed because they have as similar life as they had in the war time. They have a problem for their basic needs and the majority of the people are living below the poverty line. In other words, their life standard is as worse as in the war time. Even the problem of robbery has not been controlled by the Nigerian government to ensure the security for the citizens; so they spend their time in terror. Thus, the title itself speaks that the condition of Nigeria is as same as the war time.

Reference beyond the text

a.How would you describe the civil peace in Nigeria ? 

Ans: War is never good for the human beings because its nature is always destructive. Nigeria also faced and experienced the war very bitterly. So the condition of the civil peace there was not good. After the war also, there remained many long-term effects due to which the Nigerians would not have peace and harmony, People could not get a chance to breathe in new environment. They could not trust the government officials and the security personnel as they were corrupted in their behavior and they wanted to get benefits from the innocent and poor people. The majority of the people were hit by the poverty since they were below the poverty line. There was nothing new for the people. They had to face their own problems along with the effects left by the devastating war. People had to face various problems during that time. The government’s laws seemed to have been ineffective and useless as the number of robbery and theft was increasing. The citizens were obliged to survive in terror. Although there was civil peace, there was an anarchical and chaotic situation over the whole country.

b. What kind of attitude towards life do you think you would have if your situation was similar to that of Jonathan ‘s ? 

Ans: I think I would have similar type of attitude as Jonathan had towards life because it would take a time to be complete peace and harmony after the war as the war left some long-term effects in the country. Like Jonathan, I would be optimistic for better situation in my personal’s life as well as in the country. I would also adjust with the situation and do the works according to the situation and the needs of my family. Moreover, I would be co-operative with the neighbours so that we could spread the feeling of co-operation, harmony and fraternity to forget the war. I would still be religious-minded so that I could follow only the right paths of human beings’ virtues.

c. Draw the character sketch of Jonathan Iwegbu.

Ans: Jonathan Iwegbu was a religious-minded person who had a faith in God. He was happy with the things that he had. He thought himself extraordinarily lucky because he got five inestimable blessings, i.e. he himself, his wife and three children out of four. He thought that he got a bonus life. The bicycle and his house also made him extremely happy. He was an optimistic man; so he always thought to have better future. He was also a hard working person. He worked according to the situations and the needs of his family. So, he frequently uttered the expression, “Nothing puzzles God”. He became easily so delighted to find miracles in his life. He never spent his life in disparity. He loved his family very much because he thought that family is the source of happiness. He tried to save his family first in the difficult situations. His family members also loved him very much and they supported him in his every work for a better condition. He never regretted his loss. He started the taxi service, repaired his house and opened a bar for soldiers to support his family.

So, being the protagonist (main character), he is imitable person for all because he is a responsible, optimistic, co-operative and happy person. He can be taken as in inspiration for all if we have gone through hardships in our life.