Ninth grade represents a pivotal point in a student's academic career. Students no longer have the liberty to give simple answers; now they have to think. Answers in high school are not so easily available. Characters become more difficult to define, and even a patch of grass has some ambiguous meaning. A prime example comes from Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart. Ezinma is considered to be a minor character by many, and by word count, she is mentioned less than other, more important, characters. However, she is an extremely important part of Achebe's novel. She develops more than any character in the story, although many critics dismiss Achebe's characterization of this amazing young woman as trivial; not quite worth a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph at any rate.
Ezinma is the daughter of Okonkwo and Ekwefi. She automatically has significance because she is alive. This might seem strange, but when you're the only child of ten to live to celebrate your fifth birthday, that makes survival important.
Ezinma is thought by the village to be an ogbanje, a troublesome spirit that constantly enters its mother's womb to be born again, only to die a few years later. This might be to explain why so many children die in the African culture.
The story of Ezinma's ogbanje is an interesting one. Her mother Ekwefi suffered a great deal in her life. In fact, Achebe tells the reader,
"The birth of her children, which should be a women's crowning glory, became for Ekwefi mere physical agony devoid of promise. The naming ceremony after seven market weeks became an empty ritual. Her deepening despair found expression in the names she gave her children. One of them was a pathetic cry, Onwumbiko-"Death, I implore you." But Death took no notice;...