How does the writer create tension and convey sympathy for Ikemefuna in this extract from the novel?
In this extract from Chapter 7, which describes the death of Ikemefuna, Achebe has used a number of techniques to create tension and make the reader feel sympathy for his situation.
Part One - Preparations for the journey:
The day of Ikemefuna’s death, the men returned to Okonkwo’s hut showing us that it was an important event for the clan, and a kind of ritual for them. They were carrying wine pots, and their goatskin bags hung over their shoulders. The reference to the “deathly silence [which] descended on Okonkwo’s compound” is one way that Achebe hints at Ikemefuna’s death. This gives the reader a sense of foreboding about the events that are to follow. Part Two- The beginning of the journey:
“At the beginning of the journey the men of Umuofia talked and laughed about the locusts, about their women […] But as they drew near to the outskirts of Umuofia silence fell upon them too.” We know by this quote that the men are used to these events, but they still feel a little weary about Ikemefuna’s death and try to hide it by talking and laughing. In the end, no one knows what else to say, as the moment of the death comes nearer; it is a very uncomfortable silence for them and specially for Ikemefuna. Achebe describes how “the men trod dry leaves on the sand” and how “all else was silent.” And adds that a little further on the journey, the men start to hear faint beatings of the ekwe from a village, which makes the atmosphere and the moment more tense for both the readers and the characters. The men then start to argue about the dancing, “It is an ozo dance. The men said among themselves. […] They argued for a short while and fell into silence again.” This quote now confirms to us that the men are desperate for something to distract them. The silence is starting to urge the...