An Analysis of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart

"For three years Ikemefuna lived in Okonkwo's household and the elders of Umuofia seemed to have forgotten about him. He grew rapidly like a yam tendril in the rainy season, and was full of the sap of life. He had become wholly absorbed into his new family. He was like an elder brother to Nwoye, and from the very first seemed to have kindled a new fire in the younger boy. He made him feel grown-up; and they no longer spent the evenings in mother's hut while she cooked, but now sat with Okonkwo in his obi, or watched him as he tapped his palm tree for the evening wine. Nothing pleased Nwoye now more than to be sent for by his mother or another of his father's wives to do one of those difficult and masculine tasks in the home, like splitting wood, or pounding food."

Things Fall Apart is a story of a man, a tribe, and the struggles of a new generation against the old. Ikemefuna, although a minor character, brings about major changes in the lives of Okonkwo's family. In the above passage, Achebe describes Ikemefuna's life with the Okonkwos and his influence on their family, particularly Nwoye. He enjoys the family activities with the Okonkwos and encourages Nwoye to join the masculine world with his father. This passage, itself calming and pleasant to read, foreshadows the later fate of Ikemefuna, brutally murdered under the hands of Okonkwo himself, who equates his fondness for Ikemefuna with weakness and therefore destroys him to save his own version of masculinity. The descriptions such as "yam tendrils" and "sap of life" are particularly fitting as the story of Okonkwo is parallel to the growth of yam, a crop fit only for men. They flawlessly demonstrate how Ikemefuna gradually becomes the surrogate son under the guidance of Okonkwo and how he nurtures him as one of his own. However, it is also because of this keenness toward Ikemefuna that causes Okonkwo's alarming resistance toward him, even marking him as an enemy, an Achilles'...
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