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Things Fall Apart
Transcript of Things Fall Apart
'Yes,' replied Ekwifi, too busy to argue. Her daughter was only ten years old but she was wiser than her years." (40)
Ezinma and Water
"Enzima brought them a bowl of water with which to wash their hands."
"A light rain had fallen during the night... 'I dislike cold water dropping on my back. We should have waited for the sun to rise and dry the leaves.' Obiageli called her 'Salt' because she said that she disliked water. 'Are you afraid you may dissolve?'" (164)
"'Ekwefi...my eyelid is twitching.'
'It means you are going to cry,' said her mother.
'No,' Ezinma said, 'it is this eyelid, the top one.'
'That means you will see something.'" (41)
Authors carefully use language to convey the theme of the work and further its plot. Word choice and name choice often have symbolic meanings that contribute to the message of the story. Chinua Achebe uses the rich Igbo language to highlight aspects of African culture, which can be seen in the name and characterization of Ezinma. Ezinma defies conventions, has a bright future, and is the favorite child of Okonkwo. If the novel were to continue, it is likely that Ezinma would have a significant role in Umuofian society due to her confidence and wisdom.
In Chinua Achebe's
Things Fall Apart
, the role of Ezinma in Umuofian society is an exact reflection of her name's meaning.
Things Fall Apart
is very much awake, my friend. And how is my
, Ezinma?" (48)
Denotation: a girl or woman in relation to her parents
Connotation: represents a relationship of love, safety, and protection; deep care for and closeness to that person
Shows she has foresight into the future
Perhaps Ezinma can see what is going to happen to Umuofia
Also shows her strength because it contrasts crying with seeing something
Meaning of Ezinma
ezi: path nma: good
good path or the future looks good
deep inner desire for a stable, loving family and need to work with others and be appreciated
excited by adventure and change
not restricted by rules or conventions
optimistic, intelligent, energetic
negative qualities: changeable, restless, untidy, rebellious
Good path or bright future
examples of imagery
Visual: "Soon it covered half the sky, and the solid mass was now broken by tiny eyes of light like shining star dust." (56)
Auditory: “It looked like whispering, but they were really talking at the top of their voices. Everybody in the crowd was talking. It was like the market. From a distance the noise was a deep rumble carried by the wind” (88).
Olfactory: “She prepared it the way he liked--with slices of oil-bean and fish” (63).
Organic: “The six men ate nothing throughout the day and the next. They were not given any water to drink, and they could not go out to urinate or go into the bush when they were pressed” (195)
Tactile: “The earth burned like hot coals and roasted all the yams that had been sown” (23).
Gustatory: “Okonkwo did not taste any food for two days after the death of Ikemefuna. He drank palm wine from morning till night, and his eyes were red and fierce like the eyes of a rat when it was caught by the tail and dashed against the floor” (63).
by Chinua Achebe
Ezinma in Part 2
Ezinma is only mentioned twice in Part 2, and both times she is associated with water.
Water as a symbol in literature
rain represents change
Ezinma does not like the rain, representing how she does not like the missionaries coming to Umuofia and changing everything
Ezinma is young and destined for greatness
does not marry in Mbanta; decides to wait until they return to Umuofia to increase family's influence
although Ezinma is young, she is wiser than most children her age
Things Fall Apart
, Okonkwo wishes that Ezinma had been born a boy on multiple occasions.
"'She should have been a boy,' he thought as he looked at his ten-year-old daughter...'She should have been a boy,' Okonkwo said to himself again." (64)
"He never stopped regretting that Ezinma was a girl. Of all his children she alone understood his every mood." (172)
Okonkwo and Ezinma
Men in Umuofian society have much more influence than women
Okonkwo wishes Ezinma was in a place to hold that influence on people
Must believe she can make a positive impact on Umuofian society
Believes that Ezinma understands the hard work and dedication needed to be successful and preserve her culture
Chielo, the priestess of Agbala, takes an interest in Ezinma
Earlier in the novel, she asks Ekwefi about Ezinma and calls her "daughter"
Now refers to Ezinma as Agbala's "daughter," or a daughter of a god
Suggests that Ezinma may be the next priestess of Agbala and will hold a high position (especially for a woman) in society
This position would give Ezinma the opportunity to provide Umuofia with a "good path"
"The priestess had now reached Okonwko's compound and was talking with him outside his hut. She was saying again and again that Agbala wanted to see his daughter, Ezinma." (100)
"Ezinma did not call her mother
like all childen. She called her by her name, Ekwefi, as her father and other grown-up people did. The relationship between them was not only that of mother and child. There was something in it like the companionship of equals." (76-77)
Additionally, Okonkwo's favoritism of and concern for Ezinma suggest that she holds an importance in both Okonkwo's family and in Umuofian society.
Okonkwo's Fondness of Ezinma
"Okonkwo was specially fond of Ezinma....but his fondness only showed on very rare occasions."
"Ezinma had prepared some food for her father...He had no appetite; he only ate to please her." (199)
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Okonkwo's Concern for Ezinma
"'Go home and sleep.' said Okonkwo. 'I shall wait here.'" (108)
"Okonkwo was also feeling tired, and sleepy, for although nobody else knew it, he had not slept at all last night...It was only on his fourth trip that he had found Ekwefi, and by then he had become gravely worried." (112)
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Okonwko and Ezinma
Okonkwo looks down upon almost everyone he knows and is extremely arrogant
Despite finding flaws in nearly everyone, Okonkwo loves Ezinma and compares her to himself often
Okonkwo fully believes in preserving Umuofian culture and not conforming to the ways of the white missionaries
Comparing himself to Ezinma suggests that she feels the same way about their culture
Ezinma's well being is extremely important to Okonkwo - it may also be important to society
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"Ezinma...returned home when she heard that her father had been imprisoned, and was going to be hanged. As soon as she got home she went to Obeirika to ask what the men of Umuofia were going to do about it. But Obierika had not been home since morning. His wives thought he had gone to a secret meeting. Ezinma was satisfied that something was being done. (197)
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Enzima and the Future of Umuofia
Quotation expresses Ezinma's concern for the future of Umuofia
Ezinma is willing to drop everything to ensure its survival
Reveals Ezinma's stance on the white missionaries
Ezinma wants to preserve her own culture and has its best interest at heart
"At last Ezinma was born, and although ailing she seemed determined to live. At first Ekwefi accepted her, as she had accepted others--with listless resignation. But when she lived on to her fourth, fifth, and sixth years, love returned once more to her mother." (79)
Ezinma Represents Hope
Ekwefi was hopeless because of the death of so many of her children
Ezinma proved she was different and finally provided Ekwefi with the hope that her child will survive
Ezinma represents optimism and hope in this way and is a source of hope for the entirety of Umuofia
Will Ezinma give Umuofia hope that their culture will surive?
Ekwefi was ready to give up after so many of her children died, but Ezinma persevered
Once again the passage is filled with hope
Characterization: determined to survive against all odds
Foreshadows her ability to live and survive when many others don't
Theme: gender equality, even though she is not always treated as an equal, Ezinma seems to be destined for greatness
Mood/tone: Despite her apparent childish tone, Ezinma manages to seem wise and knowledgeable
Foreshadowing the fire of the Church and the destruction that will result from it.
characterization: she is a leader and goes to investigate what is happening to Okonkwo
foreshadows the death of Okonkwo- "was going to be hanged..."
mood/ tone: creates suspense of what the men of Umuofia would do
Ezinma plays a vital role in the novel
Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe. She proves her ability to obtain a bright future and even shows the possibility of becoming a tragic hero if the story were to have continued. Ezinma went against normal conventions of the time and managed to achieve the acknowledgment of both Okonkwo and Chielo. The priestess' attention to Ezinma gives the reader the opportunity to speculate whether or not she would take over the role of the priestess in Umoufian society.
Tone: when talking about Ezinma, Okonkwo is regretful because he wishes that she was a boy
Theme: she doesn't have the same opportunities as boys, shows gender inequality
Mood: Usually hopeful when Ezinma is mentioned
Mood/ tone: hopeful
characterization- Ezinma's curiosity
foreshadows that Ezinma may have a high position in society in the future
eyelash; top can refer to this possibility of a high social status
motif- blindness vs. sight- she seems to understand how to please Okonkwo and shares similar views with him
crying prevents people from seeing clearly
Foreshadowing: In society, the oldest son is usually the one that has the most attention, however Okonkwo focuses on Ezinma, which could foreshadow Nwoye's betrayal to his father
Characterization: The only times Okonkwo seems caring is when he is with Ezinma
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor, 1994. Print.
"First Name: Ezinma." Namepedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
"Name: Ezinma." All Baby Names. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
First quotation is Ezinma's introduction in the story
Defies conventions because she is equal to her mother as only a small child
Even equates Ezinma to her father and grown-up men because they refer to Ekwefi in the same way as she does
Ezinma is only 10 years old, yet she is described as wise
Wisdom is a quality of a great leader
Will Ezinma become a leader in Umuofian society?
common theme of the gods and their role in society
foreshadows again that she may become the new priestess
mood/ tone creates some confusion for the reader because Chielo seems anxious and frantic
(to be read in an enthusiastic infomercial narrator voice)