How is Ezinma in Things Fall Apart affected by the Igbo culture?  

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In Chinua Achebe’s debut novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo ’s daughter Ezinma is deeply affected by the norms, customs, and values of traditional Igbo culture. More specifically, as Okonkwo’s daughter, she is valued according to her ability to marry into a reputable family. Indeed, Okonkwo has a tremendous...

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In Chinua Achebe’s debut novel Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo’s daughter Ezinma is deeply affected by the norms, customs, and values of traditional Igbo culture. More specifically, as Okonkwo’s daughter, she is valued according to her ability to marry into a reputable family. Indeed, Okonkwo has a tremendous amount of influence in who she marries and why. He dictates that rather than marrying a respected man in Mbanta, she instead should save herself to marry an Umuofian man:

“Many young men and prosperous middle-aged men of Mbanta came to marry her. But she refused them all, because her father had called her one evening and said to her: 'There are many good and prosperous people here, but I shall be happy if you marry in Umuofia when we return home.' That was all he had said. But Ezinma had seen clearly all the thought and hidden meaning behind the few words” (173).

She is valued as a commodity, and a reflection on her father’s status. In her time in Mbanta, she was given the nickname “Crystal of Beauty.” This reinforces her marginalized position within Igbo culture as a commodity.

Okonkwo laments the fact that she was not born a boy, and this is yet another piece of evidence that shows that women in Igbo culture are undervalued. She has desirable traits that Okonkwo respects, but he still desperately wishes that she was a boy. Thus, Ezinma is affected by Igbo culture in much the same way as other women: she is regarded as a commodity and marginalized as a human being.

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