Overall, I really love Things Fall Apart thus far. Not having ever read specifically Nigerian literature, I find the ways of Umuofia’s village people to be very interesting. Especially Chapter Nine, which discusses Ezinma’s true identity as an ogbanje. It’s curious to imagine acknowledging that one is an evil spirit, or that an evil spirit possesses one. The presence of the occult throughout the first half intrigues me.
Further looking at Ezinma, and her mother Ekwefi, the theme of anxiety arises. Due to the fact that Ekwefi has lost almost all of the children she’s birthed, it’s no wonder she is close to her daughter. In the Chapter Eleven, in which Chielo carries Ezinma to see the Oracle of their village, Ekwefi goes against the customs of her village and follows Chielo in a panic, thinking the Oracle will choose to have Ezinma killed. While this is not the same type of anxiety as was present in the summary of The Last Chance, it’s still important to note that each anxiety stems from the emphasis put on family and community in Nigerian novels.
Stemming away from anxiety, once Ekwefi reaches the Oracle’s cave, the reader discovers the Okonkwo has followed her. “A man stood there with a machete in his hand. Ekwefi uttered a scream and sprang to her feet. ‘Don’t be foolish,’ said Okonkwo’s voice. ‘I thought you were going into the shrine with Chielo,’ he mocked” (108). This quote represents the importance of honor and rank within the village system. The gods and ancestors come first and foremost, and, within a family, wives follow the husband. Were Ekwefi to go into the cave, she would not only be dishonoring her husband who told her not to go, but the Oracle himself. She would have ultimately dishonored herself and tarnished her husband’s reputation. She may even incur the Oracle’s wrath. While this is only one scenario where honor is threatened by one’s emotions, honor and rank in general are explored throughout the first half of the novel. Each are shown to be what makes a man a man.