Exercise: Question & Answers
Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.
a. Why did Jonathan think of himself as ‘extraordinarily lucky’?
→ Jonathan considered himself “extraordinarily lucky” to have survived the American Civil War with his wife and four children.
b. What are the ‘five blessings’ for which Jonathan is grateful?
→ Five things make Jonathan thankful: his own head, Maria’s head, and the heads of his four children. Jonathan calls these things his “five blessings.”
c. Why did Jonathan mistrust the officer who wanted to take his bicycle? What does this tell you about the situation in Nigeria?
→ The officer who wanted to seize Jonathan’s bicycle for military purposes raised questions in Jonathan’s mind since it was difficult to know who to trust at the time owing to the prevalence of fake identities. After handing over two pounds in cash to the police, he was able to regain his bicycle. It shows how the civil war produced a culture of dishonesty and corruption in Nigeria.
d. What visitors might be at the door? Are Jonathan and his wife completely surprised? Explain.
→ The people who are knocking on their door are robbers. The thief demands £100. Jonathan claims to be strapped for cash. He only has 20 pounds. The leader of thieves makes the decision to take the price in this case. Jonathan hands it over to him, and the thieves disperse.
Jonathan and his wife had no idea what was going on at all. As a result, they’re anxious since they’ve never been up this late in the night before.
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?
→ When robbers pound at Jonathan’s door, nobody in the neighbourhood responds because they’re also afraid of the thieves. Thieves are calling on the cops to enjoy and mock Jonathan and his family because they know nobody will help them.
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.
→ Jonathan’s use of the phrase ‘Nothing Puzzles God’ conveys both his deep religious faith and his gloomy outlook. He understands well that he has no control over fate and instead focuses on the future. The fact that Jonathan’s home and family were spared during the coal mine shutdown and theft was often referred to as a blessing or a marvel by Jonathan. Using this phrase repeatedly frees his mind so he can put in more productive effort instead of wallowing in self-pity. By attributing events to God, he admits his inability to change the course of events that have already occurred. He successfully manages the battle’s chaos and its aftermath by accepting both good and bad events as part of God’s plan.
b. How does Jonathan change as he experiences the conflicts in his life? Explain.
→ Jonathan is quite unaffected by the events of the Civil War and their after effects because he always maintains a positive outlook. He becomes more and more willing to part with material possessions and financial resources in order to safeguard the things that are most important to him and his family. As a result of his preparedness, he is able to focus on the present and not dwell on the past. Throughout the story, he maintains an unwavering sense of optimism.
c. Read the extract and answer the questions below.
i. Who’s that speaker?
→ The speaker is Jonathan.
ii. Who speaks to the speaker?
→ The speaker speaks to himself.
iii. Who refers to “they?”
→ “They” refers to treasury 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?
→ Achebe has made the story more typical and credible by using both indigenous and standard languages. One of these languages is used when a robber approaches his door to distinguish him from the others. There is a drastic difference between their conversation and that of their peers. Characters were given a distinct Nigerian flavor via the usage of dialect. For the sake of representing Nigeria’s multilingual history, he adopted a Nigerian accent in English.
e. Why do you think the thieves who come to rob Jonathan speak English with a heavier African accent than Jonathan does?
→ The Thefts’ English is compared to Jonathan’s African-influenced English in the linguistic conversation. Jonathan’s English shows a high level of education, whereas the thieves’ english shows a low level. The slang employed in the second part resembles the English of Southeastern Nigeria.
f. The title of the story “Civil Peace” itself is ironic 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.
→ Achebe ironically uses the term ‘civil peace’ to emphasise the brutality still prevalent in Nigeria after the war. The story’s title is paradoxical since after the end of the war, the region remained disorganized and troubled. Yes, a better title would have been “civil war” since the story is filled with turmoil, dread, suffering, and the battle.
Reference beyond the text
a. How would you describe the civil peace in Nigeria?
→ No, real peace has not been achieved in Nigeria after its civil war. Many struggles have to be endured by people in their daily lives. The environment seemed darker and uncomfortable at the time. In fact, no one was safe and happy due to corruption.
b. What kind of attitude towards life do you think you would have if your situation was similar to that of Jonathan’s?
→ I’d try to stay away from places where there’s a lot of violence. I’d make every effort to retain faith in God for the sake of my family’s well-being by working hard. In fact, my outlook on life and family would be similar if my circumstances were the same as Jonathan’s.
c. Draw the character sketch of Jonathan Iwegbu.
→ Jonathan has a great faith in God and is a very upbeat person. He’s always saying, “Nothing puzzles, God,” in the name of God. Optimism is his most prominent quality, yet he also has tranquility, eloquence, and peacefulness. He’s a one-dimensional character who doesn’t change throughout the story. His time is better spent dealing with the present than dwelling on the past. He maintains his head held high and faces the challenges that lie ahead. When things become tough, he puts his family’s needs ahead of his own. He’s a hard worker who considers the interests of others while making decisions. He has a great deal of affection for his family.
The story “Civil Peace” by Chinua Achebe depicts the post-Civil War situation realistically. It’s about the effects of the Biafran civil war on Nigerians.
Jonathan Iwegbu, the story’s main character, considers himself very fortunate to have lived. He was very fortunate to god for saving him and his family during war, including his wife Maria and three of their four children. As an added bonus, he had brought his bicycle after the battle had ended. The military commander tried to take this bicycle, but he was able to get it back for two pounds. He earns very little money from this small business which hardly helps in the living of him and his family.
The Nigerian civil war has left its mark on this family. Afterwards, Jonathan goes to Enugu in search of his old family’s house and discovers that it’s still intact even though other buildings in the area have been destroyed around it. He realized the house needed some work, so he collected the necessary supplies and hired a carpenter to get it back to looking like a house.
After that, he returns to his home and his family. The whole household works long and hard hours in order to supplement their little income and start again.
Jonathan’s profession as a miner having been eliminated, he decides to open a pub in his home for troops. He is given an egg rasher for handing over 20 pounds in rebel money to the treasury.
One night, some robbers in huge groups come up at his home and want a ransom of 1000 pounds (around $1000). Jonathan was terrified, as were his wife and offsprinfs. They requested assistance from the police and their next-door neighbour but no one responded.
Finally, Jonathan admitted that he didn’t have a hundred pounds and stated he had a total of twenty pounds in his possession. The thief’s leader agreed to take the same amount of money he had. The following morning, neighbours came over to offer their condolences, but Jonathan and his family were not there to receive them.
They’d just finished their job for the day. Since God doesn’t seem to be bothered by theft, Jonathan’s life carries on as normal.
Jonathan is smart and also knows how to get things done. When a military officer took Jonathan’s bike, he brought it back by giving the officer two pounds. He also gladly gave twenty pounds to keep thieves from killing his family.
“Nothing puzzles God” is his motto. The same sentence is used in both situations. Everything in life is a bonus for him. He was so happy that he survived the war. Since he always looks on the bright side of things, the return of his bike is another miracle for him. He starts a new life at home with only a few things. He looks on the bright side and is happy with what he has. He has full faith in God and works hard in both situations.