Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe
Contributed by Jack Shields
Chapter 9

Okonkwo at last experiences a good night's rest since the killing of Ikemefuna, when all of a sudden, he is startled by a knock on his door. His wife Ekwefi discloses to him that Ezinma is dying. Ekwefi's only child, Ezinma, is the light of her life; her nine other children passed away when they were very young. Ezinma also happens to be Okonkwo's favorite child, and he sometimes wishes that Ezinma was born a boy. At the moment, she lies writhing in pain, suffering from fever while Okonkwo assembles leaves, grasses, and barks to use for her treatment.

Ezinma has endured sickness for a long her life, and individuals have thought of her as an evil ogbanje, a child who passes away at the youthful age on the grounds that she is controlled by an evil spirit the gains entry into the mother's womb so as to be born. However, Ezinma has lived any longer than Ekwefi's other children, and Ekwefi trusts that fate will allow the young lady to live a long and cheerful life. A year earlier, Ekwefi was consoled when a medicine man uncovered Ezinma's iyi-uwa, an object hidden in the ground by ogbanje children. Ezinma led the medicine man to the exact spot where the children had buried the object and the medicine man found it. It was from this experience that Ezinma felt that her only surviving child will get an opportunity to live much longer than her other children who had died ay young age.


Exactly when Okonkwo's guilt over murdering Ikemefuna appears to reduce, his commitment to his family, which he seldom demonstrates, is again tested. At the point when Ekwefi speaks to him of his little girl's sickness, he jumps out into the night to look for prescription in the bushes. By nature, Okonkwo is not a heartless and uncaring man; his only problem is that he can't stand and face the unpleasant pictures of his father's womanly characteristics.

Ekwefi's devotion to her girl Ezinma represents the critical roles that children play in a woman's life in Umuofian culture. Ekwefi says that children are a "woman's crowning glory," and before Ezinma was conceived, her own life was overcome with the desire to conceive and deliver a healthy child. However, nine times, she lost children in early stages. A woman's status in Igbo society is identified with the number of children she bears and the number of them is male.

In spite of the fact that woman's child-bearing capacities are a vital part of their status, Okonkwo and Ekwefi's profound concern and affection for Ezinma demonstrates that, regardless of the divide between masculine and feminine characteristics, a woman has an important function in Igbo society. Women are in charge of preparing the majority of the celebratory functions, which cement relations in the village and with different communities. Women also make the decorations to be displayed in the huts and also generate different creative arts for the body.

Another critical function of women in Igbo society is spoken to by Chielo, who is appreciative of the fact that as a woman, she speaks on behalf of the God Agbala. Chielo calls Ezinma as her "daughter," which may demonstrate that she will take over Chielo's position as a priestess.  In Chapter 6, Ekwefi was confident that Ezinma had "come to stay." This perception was based on the fact that Ezinma was not an ogbanje anymore on the grounds that the medicine man had uncovered her iyi-uwa.

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