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Ezinma in Things Fall Apart

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  • 0:03 ''Things Fall Apart''
  • 0:52 Ezinma's Early Life
  • 2:16 Family Relationships
  • 3:51 Ezinma's Strangeness
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Liz Breazeale
In Chinua Achebe's amazingly popular novel 'Things Fall Apart,' the character Ezinma plays a major role throughout the plotline. Learn who Ezinma is in this lesson and test yourself with a quiz.

Introduction to Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart is a novel written by famous Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It was published in 1958 to much acclaim and is still studied across the globe as the primary example of post-colonial African literature.

Things Fall Apart follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo man famed for his wrestling expertise, as well as his ferocity and his temper. The Igbo are a native Nigerian people and are referred to as Ibo throughout the novel. Okonkwo has several wives and even more children, according to the custom of his society, and he's one of the leaders of his village, Umuofia. Okonkwo deals with problems relating to his family, as well as the changing social and religious climate of his village due to the onslaught of colonialism throughout Nigeria.

Ezinma's Early Life

The character we're focusing on in this lesson is one of Okonkwo's many daughters, Ezinma. She's Okonkwo's favorite child, though she did have some competition from the ill-fated Ikemefuna, who was adopted into the family then murdered by Okonkwo. She's the only child of her mother, Okonkwo's second wife, Ekwefi. From childhood, she's a different sort of kid. Ezinma is bold, precocious, and the only one of Okonkwo's brood who seems to fully understand her father's mercurial tempers.

But Ezinma doesn't start out strong. In fact, she brings her mother immense pain and worry during her infancy, often falling terribly ill. This prompts Ekwefi and Okonkwo to believe their daughter is an ogbanje, or reincarnated spirit of a dead child come back to haunt its parents. The young Ezinma even contracts malaria, causing her parents to fear for her life. At another point in the novel, Ezinma is abducted by an Oracle and taken to her cave, where she shouts incantations and the name of the goddess over and over. The reader never finds out what exactly happens in this cave, but it's insinuated through dialogue and the actions of Ekwefi and Okonkwo, who follow the Oracle through the night, that this woman may believe Ezinma is the ogbanje of her own daughter. It's kind of amazing Ezinma turned out as well as she does, considering.

Family Relationships

The two most important familial relationships for Ezinma are with her mother and her father. She's adored by Ekwefi and the feeling is mutual. The two are very close, almost inseparable, and are brought even closer by tiny conspiracies, like sneaking eggs into a locked bedroom to snack on. Ezinma calls her mother by her first name, which you'd think would drive a sort of wedge between them, but Ekwefi and her daughter view it as a sign of respect, and even this brings them together. Ekwefi is frantic when her daughter contracts malaria, and she doesn't want to leave her side.

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