The Importance of Five Heads: "Civil Peace" by Chinua Achebe

Essay by devildoc79University, Bachelor'sA+, February 2007

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In "Civil Peace" by Chinua Achebe, the author illustrates the life of Jonathan Iwegbu immediately after a long and bloody civil war. Jonathan, the protagonist of the story, counts himself extra-ordinarily lucky because he and his family survive the war with their five heads in their respected places. Along with his family, Jonathan is able to keep a bicycle. Jonathan begins to use his bicycle to create a taxi business and starts to save money. After saving a small fortune, Jonathan travels to his former home in Enugu and finds yet another miracle. His home is still standing. After getting settled in their home again, Jonathan learns the new treasury began to exchange former rebel currency with new currency. The night that Jonathan exchanged his money, a group of thieves gathered outside his family's door, and began pounding on it, demanding his money. Jonathan shouted for help with no luck.

Finally, Jonathan gave the thieves the money they demanded and they left. The next day Jonathan tells his neighbors "I count it as nothing" (43), referring to the money that was stolen. The fact that he had his family and they were together was enough satisfaction for him. Through the character of Jonathan, Achebe focuses on the importance of family and new opportunities to rebuild rather than the hardships and devastation of the aftermath of war.

It is immediately apparent that Jonathan is a dynamic and resourceful character. Every obstacle thrown at him he learns from. When he needs to make money for his family (his five heads) he turns his bicycle into a taxi company. Jonathan is also very street smart. As he exchanges his money at the Treasury he puts it in his hand in his left pocket so he would leave "his right free...