Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart Chapter Nine Quotes
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Okonkwo returned when he felt the medicine had cooked long enough…
“Bring me a low stool for Ezinma,” he said, “and a thick mat.”
He took down the pot from the fire and placed it in front of the stool. He then roused Ezinma and placed her on the stool, astride of the steaming pot. The thick mat was thrown over both. Ezinma struggled to escape from the choking and overpowering steam, but she was held down. She started to cry.
When the mat was at last removed she was drenched in perspiration. Ekwefi mopped her with a piece of cloth and she lay down on a dry mat and was soon asleep. (9.76-79)
Okonkwo puts in a supreme effort of skill and will to bring Ezinma, his beloved daughter, back from the edge of death. Though she is an ogbanje child, destined to repeat rapid cycle of death and rebirth, Okonkwo is able to save Ezinma from her illness.
“It is iba,” said Okonkwo as he took his machete and went into the bush to collect the leaves and grasses and barks of tree that went into making the medicine for iba. (9.7)
The earth provides ways for humans to combat disease. This furthers the idea that sickness is an abomination to the earth.
The medicine man then ordered that there should be no mourning for the dead child. He brought out a sharp razor from the goatskin bag slung from his left shoulder and began to mutilate the child. Then he took it away to bury in the Evil Forest, holding it by the ankle and dragging it on the ground behind him. After such treatment it would think twice before coming again, unless it was one of the stubborn ones who returned, carrying the stamp of their mutilation – a missing finger or perhaps a dark line where the medicine man’s razor had cut them. (9.23)
Unlike in normal circumstances, here it is a sin for a child to be born because that child is a demonic spirit posing as an innocent human baby. Thus, what seems like a sinful ritual – mutilating the corpses of babies – is actually used to prevent further sins in the rebirth of evil.