Things Fall Apart Chapter 9 Summary and Analysis
by Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 9 Summary and Analysis

Okonkwo is finally able to sleep after three days of being upset about Ikemefuna. Not long after falling asleep, however, his wife Ekwefi wakes him to say that their daughter Ezinma is ill. This isn't the first time Ezinma has been on the verge of death. Ekwefi had nine children who died in their infancy before Ezinma, and for years after Ezinma's birth everyone expected her to die. The girl was often sick, but persevered, and now Ekwefi believes that she will stay (meaning that her spirit won't leave her body again, as it did with Ekwefi's other children). A medicine man called Okagbue had examined Ezinma the year before and was convinced that Ezinma was an ogbanje (a changeling child) who had buried her iyi-uwa (a special stone that linked her to the spirit world). Okagbue dug up the iyi-uwa, and the girl was said to be cured. So Ekwefi and Okonkwo do not call the medicine man when Ezinma gets sick this time. They make her some medicine, and she recovers.


Ekwefi directly addresses Death by naming one of her children Onwumbiko, a name that literally means "Death, I implore you." The child dies, and Ekwefi's prayers aren't answered.


Okonkwo remembers a story in which the Mosquito and the Ear are personified and engage in an unrequited love affair where Mosquito asks Ear to marry him and is rebuffed. Ear laughs that the Mosquito looks like a skeleton, so every time Mosquito flies by, he whispers to Ear that he's still alive. This explains why mosquitoes love to buzz around ears. It also ascribes the natural world a level of intentionality that a human would have, suggesting that mosquitoes have feelings and are capable of talking like a person.


Eggs.  In Igbo culture, children are forbidden eggs, because it's believed...

(The entire section is 462 words.)