Things Fall Apart
Ikemefuna was a young boy sacrificed to the village of Umoufia because his father killed a daughter of their village. Ikemefuna lived with Okonkwo and his family for three years. Okonkwo was fond of Ikemefuna though he never openly showed any emotion, he treated him as a son. He was a very lively boy, intelligent and had a strong work ethic which Okonkwo’s first son, Nwoye, lacked. Ikemefuna and Nwoye were inseperable, Nwoye enjoyed spending time with Ikemefuna; he seemed to know everything. Prior to Ikemefuna’s arrival in Umoufia, Nwoye “was already causing his father great anxiety for his incipient laziness,”(Achebe, 1994, Pg. 13), therefore Okonkwo liked him spending time with Ikemefuna because he taught him how to be a man.
Ekwefi was the second wife of Okonkwo, she was good friends with Chielo whom she shared a common shed in the market. Chielo was the priestess of Agbala, the Oracle of the Hill and Caves. She was a very powerful woman but if you met her on an ordinary day you “would hardly believe she was the same person who prophesied when the spirit of Agbala was upon her” (Achebe, 1994, Pg. 49). Chielo heard the news of Ekwefi being beaten and nearly killed by Okonkwo and this angered her and was the reason she decreed Ikemefuna’s death.
Chielo allowed three years to pass before deciding to sacrifice Ikemefuna. This was a good time to sacrifice his life, if he was any older he would have had the chance to shape Nwoye into Okonkwo’s ideal son, and Chielo did not feel that Okonkwo was worthy. Okonkwo had become attached and very fond of Ikemefuna, he cared for him as if he was his son. The boy “could hardly imagine Okonkwo was not his real father. He had never been fond of his real father, and at the end of three years he had become very distant” (Achebe, 1994, Pg. 59). Chielo was well aware of the type of man Okonkwo was, she knew that he would take part in Ikemefuna’s death. Even though Okonkwo was warned not to bear a hand in his death because the child calls him father (Achebe, 1959, Pg. 57) he still struck him with the machete and killed him, he did not want to be thought of as weak. His death bothered Okonkwo, “he did not taste food for two days. He drank palm-wine from morning till night,” (Achebe, 1994, Pg. 63). This punishment was the first of many that were due to Okonkwo’s ignorance.
Okonkwo was punished by Chielo for being selfish and only thinking of how his actions would be viewed by others. In the end, he ruined his relationship with Nwoye and committed an abomination of the village by committing suicide. If he stayed true to himself and was not so driven by what others thought he would not have led such an unhappy and angry life.
Achebe, Chinua. (1994). Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books.
References: Achebe, Chinua. (1994). Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books.