The Underdown's visit until Independence
The Underdowns unexpectedly arrive with some big news. The Congo is going to hold an election in May and declare their independence in June. The Belgian government has sanctioned this move. Orleanna is beside herself and says that the Mission League had assured them that independence was at least thirty years away. Frank Underwood points out that no one told the Prices to come to Congo, and reveals that the Mission League had not even officially sanctioned their mission. The League only pays their fifty-dollar a month pittance, he says, out of kindness. It is fairly clear that Orleanna was not aware that their mission was unsanctioned until this point. Orleanna loses control of herself and begins cursing, raving about the Belgians and their mistreatment of the Congolese, and then about the absurdity of granting a country independence with no interim period for training and transition. Nathan, however, calls this news a fairy tale and dismisses the possibility of an election. The Underdowns say that they came out to warn the Prices that, for their safety, they must leave before the election. Nathan becomes enraged at this suggestion, bellowing that his contract extends through June and that he will stay until July to welcome the new missionaries.
Under Anatole's guidance, the village is preparing for the election. Since nearly all the Congolese are illiterate, each candidate is represented by a symbol—a knife, a bottle, matches, or a cooking pot. The villagers will cast their vote by placing a stone in the bowl marked by their candidate's symbol. Though only the men have the right to vote, it seems that only the women have an opinion on who should win, and they advise their husbands ardently. Eeben Axelroot is preparing for independence in his own way, making many more trips down to the Southern mines.
Meanwhile, Adah notices Tata Kuvundu leaving a bowl of chicken bones, staple of his magic, in a puddle outside the Price's door. She takes this as an act of kindness on his part; he is trying to protect them by sending them away.
Nathan flies to Stanleyville to pick up more quinine pills. While there he learns that the election results are in, and that Patrice Lumumba is the winner. Shortly thereafter, the Prices receive a letter from the Underdowns telling them to prepare for their departure. Orleanna pleads with Nathan to let them evacuate, but he refuses to bend to her will.
When the plane is sent for the Price's evacuation only Nathan and Leah get on. The two of them are going to watch the transfer of power in Leopoldville, and then return to Kilanga. Rachel tries to get on the plane as well, desperate to escape the Congo, but her father flings her violently to the ground. Once the plane is in the air, Orleanna sinks into bed, though it is only mid-morning, and does not get up for the rest of the day. At night Ruth May crawls in next to her, and admits that she does not feel like ever getting up again.
Corrections: There are several mistakes in this article, from plot-related to grammatical. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are: a) Adah's right side, not her left, is crippled, b) the author used "effect" as a verb, and c) it's wringing, not ringing, near the end. Someone should probably look over this sometime. Also, the article presents Nathan Price as a completely flat character; however, he has his moments of uncertainty (for example, when he reshapes his garden into mounds, or when he reacts to the news of the little girl... Read more→
380 out of 402 people found this helpful
I feel that Nathan is not shown as a real protagonist. He isn't even a main character, as the book isn't about his actions, but how the females in his family respond to his actions. He would be more considered an antagonist, if he were more central.