[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cover_of_the_eye_the_ear_and_the_arm.png]]

A 1995 Newbery Honor Book, ''The Ear, the Eye and the Arm''[[note]] (No, there is not a comma missing there)[[/note]] is a novel by Nancy Farmer set in Zimbabwe [[ExtyYearsFromNow 200 years in the future]].

Tendai and his siblings Rita and Kuda have lived a sheltered life and have a strained relationship with their father, the renowned General Matsika. Thus, with the aid of their caretaker, the Mellower, they sneak out of the house...and into a whole lot of trouble, getting themselves kidnapped. Meanwhile, the Matsika parents are frantic with worry, so the Mellower suggests hiring some detectives he has heard of - [[TitleDrop the Ear, the Eye, and the Arm]]. As the Matsika children struggle to survive, the detectives race to find them before it's too late.

Most notable for its heavy exploration of African myths and traditions, something that normally never appears in Western fiction.

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!!This book provides examples of:

* AdultFear: The notion of your children being kidnapped after they convince you to let them do a small expedition for homework. Unsurprisingly, General Matsika is frantic when he realizes his kids are gone.
* AllMythsAreTrue: The ancient African myths are ''very'' real and drive a lot of the story.
* AllThereInTheManual: Several of the myths, historic figures/events, and elements of modern (i.e. 1990s) African life are discussed further in a short appendix and glossary.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Myanda. She's married to one of Resthaven's elders, but they have no children, and she names Sekai after [[spoiler:a former "girlfriend" from when she lived on the outside]]. (She's also very fond of her husband's other wife, Chipo, who is Sekai's mother, but that may be more due to [[BigBrotherInstinct Big Sister Instinct]].)
* AncientAfrica: Resthaven. In the middle of the futuristic Zimbabwe, this is a sacred country where the old ways are preserved[[note]]Even the [[NoWomansLand unpleasant ones]][[/note]] - "the spiritual heart of Africa." Even airplanes aren't allowed to fly overhead, and the people who live inside of it have only the vaguest notion of the outside world - most of them.
** The historical kingdoms of Great Zimbabwe (ca. 1200-1450) and Mutapa (ca. 1450-1750 CE), and one of the rulers of the latter, also feature prominently as the plot progresses. The ruler's name is never specified; he's referred to as "Monomatapa," but [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep that's actually his title]].
* AndIMustScream: [[spoiler:Happens to Arm near the end of the book.]]
* BigDamnHeroes: The detectives pull this in Resthaven. [[spoiler:Arm also attempts to pull this at the book's climax, but that doesn't work out. Instead, it's the She Elephant who ends up breaking the power of the Masks--literally, over her knee.]]
* BittersweetEnding: The kids are saved [[spoiler:from becoming a sacrifice, the family soothsayer's mother is put in jail for her extortion plot, but although she saved the day, the She Elephant still has to serve some jail time for her crimes.]]
* BlessedWithSuck:
** Arm's telepathy grows in strength as the book progresses, making him more sensitive to what other people are feeling nearby, and thus making it harder for him to function around other people. [[spoiler:Luckily for him, he loses his telepathy due to what the Gondwannan gods do to him.]]
** Eye and Ear have similar issues with their own abilities. In addition to typical SensoryOverload and the disfiguring nature of their mutations, Eye is treated to a perpetual GrossUpCloseup of everything around him (and sunlight isn't his favorite thing either), while Ear's eponymous attributes are extremely delicate: at one point he suffers an excrutiating tear when he unfurls them in extreme winds.
* ButtDialingMordor: Psychic powers and eldritch abominations make a bad combination.
* ComingOfAgeStory: For Tendai.
* CommonplaceRare: [[GreenAesop Plastics.]] Nobody really misses them, but plastic artifacts can be quite valuable to the right buyer.
* DeadpanSnarker: Rita, when she wants to be. It gets her into trouble a lot.
** The narration itself tends toward the bone-dry at times, although it's pretty understated compared to Rita.
* DecadeDissonance: In 2194 there is Resthaven, which is an independent country with people who live their life in the GoodOldWays.
* DisproportionateRetribution: When Rita steals some food while the siblings are in Resthaven, guess what her punishment is? [[spoiler:They heat peanuts with coals and use them ''to burn her chest.'']] Ouch.
* TheDreaded: Matsika. As security chief of Zimbabwe, he brought an end to the chaos caused by the great gang wars through sheer ruthlessness. Over a decade later, just mentioning his name is enough to make the surviving lesser criminals take flight.
** The Masks, however, remain TheDreaded themselves, despite the general's best efforts. Their EstablishingCharacterMoment is the bombing of a supermarket, and their motives ([[ForTheEvulz assuming they have any]]) remain a mystery. By the time [[spoiler:we find out who they really are, and [[EldritchAbomination whom they serve]], it's not at all hard to believe]].
* EldritchAbomination: [[spoiler:The Gondwannan gods are supposedly these.]]
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Rita mentions that despite being their captor, at least She-Elephant made sure that the kids had enough to eat (and despite [[TrashOfTheTitans where she lives]], she's quite the cook). [[spoiler:Whereas in Resthaven, Rita gets burned with peanuts for taking a bit of food for herself.]]
** For most of the book, the She Elephant is also perfectly happy to [[spoiler:sell the children to the Masks]]. When [[spoiler: she finds out [[HumanSacrifice their true intentions]], and when they [[Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack alter the deal]] for good measure]], she [[LetsGetDangerous throws down]].
* FishOutOfWater: Tendai and his siblings, having no clue how to adapt to life outside their house.
* FlyingCar: It's the future, folks. Flying vehicles are everywhere.
* FrickinLaserBeams: Laser guns are illegal weapons in the future, used solely by criminals (and [[{{Foreshadowing}} those with diplomatic immunity]]). In a subversion of most fictional lasers, a character actually does get temporarily blinded by looking at one.
* FutureFoodIsArtificial: An algae described as "pond scum" which is "pressed into the shape of hot dogs, etc."
* GoodIsNotNice: First and foremost, General Matsika, but also Myanda (who is herself [[spoiler:[[{{Foil}} a former criminal]]]]), as well as [[spoiler:the ''mhondoro'' spirit who possesses Arm near the book's climax]]. Averted with the detectives themselves, who are surprisingly soft-hearted compared to [[HardboiledDetective their Western counterparts]]--but then again, before the Matsikas came along, a lot of their cases involved [[YourCheatingHeart "sneaky husbands."]]
* GoodOldWays: Inverted and somewhat played straight with Resthaven. It's a natural preserve of pristine beauty, and it's a very good place to live - if you're a man. If you're a girl, you can look forward to polygamy and drudgery for the rest of your life, and [[spoiler: if twins are born, one of the twins ''will'' be killed. Yes, probably the girl.]] Also, understandably, when the kids end up there, they want to head home to their old life.
* HappilyAdopted: [[spoiler:Sekai, in the WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue.]]
* HeelFaceTurn: [[spoiler:The She-Elephant just wanted someone to respect her.]]
* HiveMind: The mutant inhabitants of Dead Man's Vlei are hinted to be this. They don't like outsiders.
* HumansAreWhite: Averted. There are three distinct ethnic groups -- Black, Brown[[note]]implied to be analogous to the modern-day "Cape Coloured" people of South Africa, who have mixed heritage[[/note]], and White. Most of the named characters are Black, but [[StealthPun Eye is Brown]], and the Mellower, [[ThoseTwoGuys Knife]], and Ear are White.
* IAmVeryBritish: The Mellower's mother, a.k.a. [[PreppyName Mrs. Horsepool-Worthingham]].
* InfantImmortality: Played straight, although the plot comes very close to averting this on a few occasions.
* LightningGun: The Soul Stealers.
* LovecraftianSuperpower: Downplayed in the titular characters, but their powers are derived from physical mutations, and their appearances are very unsettling to others. Eye's eyes are [[SphereEyes bulbous and protruding]], Ear's ears are huge and mobile (to the point where he can fold them to focus on a point like an animal's ears or curl them up for storage), Arm's namesakes are of the {{Creepy Long| Arms}} variety with (slightly adhesive) [[CreepyLongFingers Fingers]] and legs to match.
* LuddWasRight: This is one of the main viewpoints of the residents of Resthaven.
* ManChild: Trashman is an example of this. Kuda is the only one who can (supposedly) understand him. The Mellower has elements of this, too.
* ManiacMonkeys: The Blue Monkey, a genetically engineered TalkingAnimal. He's a jerk.
* TheMenFirst: Implied that this is part of General Matsika's professional standards. [[spoiler:By the end, Tendai develops similar beliefs.]]
* {{Mutants}}: The source of Eye, Ear, and Arm's abilities, and the people of the Dead Man's Vlei.
* MyBelovedSmother: [[spoiler:The Mellower's mother.]]
* NeoAfrica: The book's setting.
* NobleSavage: Resthaven again, deconstructed. See GoodOldWays.
* NothingIsScarier: [[spoiler:The "decorations" at the Masks' shrine...as well as the eyes of the Big-Head Mask. It's never stated clearly how a mask's eyes can "open," or show hunger as a sacrifice is prepared--but then again, it may be better left unspecified]].
* PsychicPowers: The Mellower has a mild case, but Arm fell out of that particular tree and hit every branch on the way down. [[spoiler:He loses some of them at the end, but he's not entirely ungrateful. See BlessedWithSuck, as well as...]]
* ReactiveContinuousScream: Arm and Sekai accidentally get into a psychic version of this at one point. It nearly breaks them both.
* ReligionOfEvil: The Masks.
* ShownTheirWork: The depictions of African traditional culture and mythology are very thorough.
* SpannerInTheWorks: The Masks did not count on [[spoiler:She-Elephant's HeelFaceTurn]].
* StepfordSmiler: [[spoiler: The Mellower, still unable to get over his abusive MyBelovedSmother.]]
* StockYuck: Parsnips, apparently.
* SuperSenses: Eye and Ear each have one super sense. [[ThemeNaming Go on, guess what they are.]]
* ThemeNaming: This trope feels the love. The three detectives, the Mellower, the She-Elephant, Knife and Fist, Trashman...
* TranslationConvention: Most of the characters speak [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shona_language [=chiShona=]]] unless otherwise specified. At one point, Tendai finds an antique glass bottle with English labeling, and has to work a little to translate it.
** Many key cultural terms (most prominently the ''[[GeniusLoci mhondoro]]'') are left untranslated--along with loanwords from Afrikaans, Portuguese, and a few other languages to keep things interesting.
* TrashOfTheTitans: The [[IDontLikeTheSoundOfThatPlace Dead Man's Vlei]] -- an abandoned toxic waste dump -- is spacious enough to house an entire colony of scavengers, and so deep that slaves ''mine'' for salvage.
* UrbanHellscape: Toxic slums, borderline-PrivatelyOwnedSociety, food shortages... an excellent example from the trope's heyday in the mid-90's.
* WellDoneSonGuy: General Matsika starts out as part of this for all his children (especially with Tendai). As you might guess, it doesn't work out very well for him.
* WitchHunt: [[spoiler:In Resthaven, after the twins are born. A very literal and very unpleasant example--even though the ancestor spirit who possesses the ''[[SinisterMinister nganga]]'' prevents him from framing Tendai as he was planning to do. Instead, the "evidence" points to [[SacrificialLion Myanda]], whose fate is left unspecified]].
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue: Touches on ''all'' the characters, even the minor ones.
* WouldHurtAChild: Most of the inhabitants of Resthaven, [[WouldHitAGirl as long as it's a girl]].
** Another version of this crops up at the climax. [[spoiler:The mouth of the [[EldritchAbomination Big-Head Mask]] is lined with very small teeth.]]
* WretchedHive: The Cow's Guts slum, where the detectives live and base their business.
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