Things Fall Apart

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Ezinma Character Analysis

Ezinma is Okonkwo's eldest daughter and Ekwefi's only child to survive past infancy. Ezinma resembles her mother who was once the village beauty. She understands her father well, and he in turn wishes that she had been born a son. Ezinma also shares a close relationship with her mother, who considers Ezinma to be a companion as well as a daughter.

Ezinma Quotes in Things Fall Apart

The Things Fall Apart quotes below are all either spoken by Ezinma or refer to Ezinma. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of Things Fall Apart published in 1994.
Chapter 8 Quotes

Ezinma took the dish in one hand and the empty water bowl in the other and went back to her mother's hut. “She should have been a boy,” Okonkwo said to himself again. His mind went back to Ikemefuna and he shivered.

Related Characters: Okonkwo, Ikemefuna, Ezinma
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

Enzima gives Okonkwo a dish of plantains to break his fast, and she assertively commands him to finish them. Their exchange makes Okonkwo ruminate on her masculine qualities.

This passage further clarifies the gender roles in Umuofia society. Once more, the text divorces the sex of a character from the type of action he or she performs. It is possible for Enzima, for instance, to take on stereotypical masculine characteristics by being assertive with Okonkwo. This behavior earns her respect, for Okonkwo both follows the command and then praises her for making it. Yet when Okonkwo adds that “she should have been a boy,” the tone of the text changes: the masculine behaviors may be desirable, but they only make Okonkwo wish that they were housed in a male body as well. Thus even as the narrative breaks down some of the gender binaries at play, it also reaffirms them. Ultimately, at least for Okonkwo, the gender of actions and the sex of the character should conform to each other.

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Ezinma Character Timeline in Things Fall Apart

The timeline below shows where the character Ezinma appears in Things Fall Apart. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Language Theme Icon
On the morning of the second day of the festival, Ekwefi and her only daughter Ezinma talk as she prepares a fowl to eat. Ezinma asks many questions, calling her mother... (full context)
Masculinity Theme Icon
Ezinma brings Okonkwo a bowl of the pottage Ekwefi prepared and waits as he finishes his... (full context)
Chapter 6
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...with Chielo, the priestess of the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves. Chielo calls Ezinma “my daughter,” and asks about the girl's health. She tells Ekwefi that she thinks Ezinma... (full context)
Chapter 8
Masculinity Theme Icon
...as well. On the third day, he asks Ekwefi to roast plantains for him, and Ezinma delivers the dish, telling him to finish it, since he hasn't eaten in two days.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Language Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
...then Ekwefi wakes him in the morning by banging on his door. She says that Ezinma is dying, and Okonkwo rushes to Ekwefi's hut. He begins preparing a medicine of leaves... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...children who died and entered their mothers' wombs to be born again. By the time Ezinma was born, Ekwefi had lost hope, but when Ezinma lived past the age of six,... (full context)
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
...ingredients, and he and Ekwefi prepare the medicine. Once the medicine is ready, he forces Ezinma to sit under a blanket with the steaming pot. She struggles, but is held down,... (full context)
Chapter 11
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
One moonless night, Ezinma and Ekwefi sit in their hut telling stories. Ekwefi tells the story of a clever... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Ezinma complains that there is no song in the story, and she begins her turn to... (full context)
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Ekwefi begins to doubt herself, wondering if she can do anything if something happens to Ezinma in the caves. When Chielo and Ezinma enter the cave mouth, however, Ekwefi vows that... (full context)
Chapter 12
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...Ekwefi is exhausted from the previous night. Chielo had crawled out of the shrine with Ezinma sleeping on her back in the morning and walked back to the village with Okonkwo... (full context)
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
...and sleepy, since he didn't sleep at all the night before, out of worry for Ezinma. Obierika's compound is busy with preparations for the uri, cooking yams and cassava, preparing goats... (full context)
Chapter 20
Masculinity Theme Icon
Ezinma has grown into one of the most beautiful girls in Mbanta. She is called the... (full context)
Chapter 23
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
...take a cut. The villagers don't know what to do or what to believe, and Ezinma breaks her twenty-eight day visit to her husband's family when she hears that her father... (full context)
Chapter 24
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
...but they leave in brooding silence, not speaking to any of the clansmen they pass. Ezinma prepares a meal for her father, and he eats only to please her, even though... (full context)