Study Guide

The Joys of Motherhood Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

A Man is Never Ugly

  • Cordelia notices that Nnu Ego hasn't been seen that morning. On her frequent trips to and from the kitchen, she notices that Nnu Ego's door is open so she goes to take a look. That's when she sees the dead baby, and no Nnu Ego. She crosses herself like a good Catholic and screams for Nnu Ego.
  • She thinks she should run and tell Nnaife, and perhaps her husband, but where is Nnu Ego?
  • She goes to find her husband first. She sees Nnaife, and just tells him that she needs her husband. She feels sorry for Nnaife – his wife doesn't care for him and now his only son is dead. She sounds forced and odd as she asks for her husband (Ubani) and Nnaife wonders what's wrong, but he goes to get her husband.
  • Ubani frowns when he sees her. He shouldn't be interrupted at work. But, like Cordelia, he's upset when he hears her news and he wonders what they should do. Cordelia wonders if Nnu Ego is trying to harm herself.
  • Ubani agrees that he will tell Nnaife, but when he sees Nnaife so engrossed in his work, he doesn't have the heart. But he must tell him, and they must find Nnu Ego. He hurries to finish his washing and tells his nephew, Dilibe, to do the drying. Then he finds Nnaife, and watches as Nnaife concentrates on his work.
  • Nnaife finally speaks and says it's a beautiful morning and beautiful mornings don't make for bad days. He knows something is wrong – he had seen Cordelia go to Ubani, and now Ubani stood here – but he wouldn't hurry his friend.
  • Ubani asks Nnaife to take a break. Nnaife looks at him and realizes that his friend is trying to hide something from him. He tells him that he needs to hang the washing first.
  • Ubani damns the washing.
  • Nnaife thinks of his own family for the first time. Is something wrong? He asks if there was a quarrel between the wives and Ubani shakes his head.
  • Nnaife looks around. He sees Ubani's children. But where is Nnu Ego? He asks the question out loud.
  • Ubani tells him to come to their room. Nnu Ego isn't at home.
  • Cordelia is there, sitting on their bed, which is curtained off. She looks like she's in emotional distress.
  • Nnaife asks if Ubani has already been beating Cordelia, so early in the morning. Cordelia begins to whimper.
  • Ubani tells Nnaife that his son is dead and lying inside the room.
  • Nnaife can't believe what he's hearing. Cordelia brings him something hot to drink and Nnaife's hands shake as he holds the glass.
  • Ubani asks him to think about his wife, and how upset she must be.
  • Nnaife wants to know where his wife is and where his son, Ngozi is. Ubani tells him that Ngozi, is lying in the room but they don't know where Nnu Ego is. Nnaife wonders if Nnu Ego knows about it. But then he says she must know and that is why she ran away.
  • Ubani says they must search for her before she does something terrible to herself in her sorrow.
  • Nnaife begins to moan, feeling sorry for his wife. He feels bad for himself and starts to think that he is ugly and that Nnu Ego only put up with him because of the child.
  • Ubani tells him not to be ridiculous, that no man is ugly. He should stop talking like a woman. Ubani tells Nnaife that he has to make Nnu Ego pregnant again very soon, he says, so that she can forget the death of her first child.

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