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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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Chapter 9 Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Describe the story Okonkwo’s mother used to tell him that explained why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears.

2. Give two examples proving that the relationship between Ezinma and Ekwefi was a companionship of equals.

3. Why did Ekwefi stay with her people during her third pregnancy?

4. How was Ekwefi’s despair reflected in the names she gave her children?

5. Describe the medicine man famous for his knowledge of ogbanje children.

6. Why did the medicine man drag the corpse of the dead ogbanje child into the Evil Forest?

7. Why did Ekwefi grow bitter about her own chi?

8. Why did Ezinma take the medicine man and her family through the bush and back to the homestead in order to find the iyi-uwa?

9. As Ezinma and Ekwefi are cooking yams, they discuss the fact that large quantities of vegetables cook down to smaller quantities by telling the story of the snake-lizard. Why did the snake-lizard kill his mother and himself?

10. Why does Okonkwo tell Ekwefi to watch the medicine pot carefully?

1. When Mosquito asked Ear to marry him, she fell on the floor laughing. Ear thought Mosquito looked like a skeleton and insinuated that he would not live much longer. Mosquito was humiliated, so any time he passes by, he tells Ear that he is still alive.

2. Ezinma does not call her mother Nne like other children. She calls her by her name. They share secrets like eating eggs together.

3. The medicine man said Ekwefi would trick the wicked ogbanje and break the cycle of birth and death if she stayed with her people during her pregnancy.

4. Ekwefi’s despair was reflected in the following names she gave her children: Onwumbiko “Death I implore you;” Ozoemena “May it not happen again;” and Onwuma “Death may please himself.”

5. The medicine man was striking. He was very tall; he had a full beard and a bald head. He was light in complexion, and his eyes were fiery.

6. The medicine man dragged the dead child into the Evil Forest because then the ogbanje would think twice about entering its mother’s womb and coming to life again.

7. Ekwefi wishes her co-wives well, but she has grown bitter. She feels that it is her evil chi that denies her good fortune. Ekwefi’s bitterness does not flow outward to others but inward into her own soul.

8. Ezinma was looking for the iyi-uwa herself as she took everyone on a journey through the bush and then back to her own homestead.

9. The snake-lizard gave his mother seven baskets of raw vegetables to cook. When they yielded only three baskets of cooked vegetables, he killed her. Then, he brought another seven baskets of raw vegetables and cooked them himself; again they yielded three baskets of cooked vegetables. The snake-lizard then killed himself. He may have been upset about the vegetables, or he may have realized he murdered his mother unjustly.

10. Okonkwo tells Ekwefi to watch the medicine pot carefully because if the medicine boils over, its power will evaporate.

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