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Things Fall Apart

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Pichardo 1
Armando Pichardo
Mrs. Reedy 2
Adv. English 2
20 February, 2013

In the novel Things Fall Apart, Ikemefuna is a young boy taken from a neighboring village to account for the killing of a woman of Umuofia. He was set to live with Okonkwo, a successful man and wrestler, and his family until his execution came. Okonkwo and his family, especially his son Nwoye, became fond of Ikemefuna and liked him very much. It took three years for the oracle to decide that it was time for Ikemefuna to die, and even though Okonkwo did not have to do it himself, since Ikemefuna referred to him as father, he delivered the killing blow. As both being men, Okonkwo and Nwoye tried to hide their emotions over Ikemefuna’s death; however, as the reader one knows that Okonkwo felt depressed and weak while Nwoye was just as depressed as his father, but also disappointed in him.

Okonkwo experienced depression. “Okonkwo did not taste any food for two days after the death of Ikemefuna. He drank palm-wine from morning till night and his eyes were red and fierce like the eyes of a rat when caught by the tail and dashed against the floor.” (Achebe ) Okonkwo clearly shows the common signs of depression, as he loses appetite and begins to drink even more. A person, in this case Okonkwo, does not want to eat and it is very common for people who are depressed to drown their sorrows with alcohol, thinking it will help them. Okonkwo also stayed in his hut avoiding everyone during this time, even his family, which lets the reader know Pichardo 2 that he does not want people to see him as being weak because it reminds him of his father. A rat that has been caught by the tail is helpless, so Achebe is trying to describe how Okonkwo feels, helpless. He also begins to talk down on himself. “When did you become a shivering old woman,” Okonkwo asked himself, “you, who are known in all the nine villages for your valor on war? How can a man who has killed five men in battle fall to pieces because he has added a boy to their number? Okonkwo, you have become a woman indeed.” (Achebe ) Weak, the only word Okonkwo would have used to describe himself after Ikemefuna’s death. He cannot describe why he feels this way after the death of some boy who wasn’t blood related and calls himself a “woman”, another way to say that he was weak and soft. In his culture, a woman may be the worst thing a man can call himself, or another man, due to the fact that all women do is stay at home to take of the kids and make his man happy no matter what he has done. Okonkwo, who has killed five men in the past, cannot come to the conclusion that Ikemefuna really meant more to him than what he thought since he has fallen to pieces after his death.

Nwoye was also very depressed. “A deathly silence descended on Okonkwo’s compound. Even the very little children seemed to know. Throughout that day Nwoye sat in his mother’s hut and tears stood in his eyes.” (Achebe ) One can only imagine the pain Nwoye went through while losing what he once called a brother that had helped him become a man. If the very young children were aware of what was really going on, than Nwoye would have also known that Ikemefuna was not going to go back with his own family, he knew there was no way they would just let him go like that. This happened after Okonkwo left with Ikemefuna which was the only reason Nwoye was able to show emotion about what they were going to do to Ikemefuna. Nwoye
Pichardo 3 had already been beaten once for crying when he first found out about Ikemefuna leaving. Being afraid of his father, and not wanting to be beaten again, he waited to cry again until they left. It may not be completely obvious, but if one looked deeper at how Nwoye acts when Okonkwo gets home after killing Ikemefuna, they could see that he was disappointed in his father. “A vague chill had descended on him and his head had seemed to swell, like a solitary walker at night who passes an evil spirit on the way. Then something had given way inside him. It descended on him again, this feeling, when his father walked in that night after killing Ikemefuna.” (Achebe ) Nwoye feels his father could have done something about Ikemefuna and did not have to kill him. He refers to himself as a “solitary walker” which would make Okonkwo the “evil spirit on the way” because he killed Ikemefuna even though he had a choice, and did not have to go with the rest of the elders to kill him. Nwoye will never forget the moment his father walked in that night because from the moment he set a foot in the hut, he knew his father had killed Ikemefuna, the one he once called his brother. He cannot forgive his father for what he has done, as he did not do anything to try to stop what they had planned for Ikemefuna.

As we can see now, both Okonkwo and Nwoye were depressed even if they did not show it in the same way. Okonkwo feeling weak, and his son disappointed, one can only suspect that their relationship is going to be greatly affected by Ikemefuna’s death, and not in a good way. Even though Okonkwo and Nwoye only knew Ikemefuna for three years, he has affected their lives in major ways and made them both realize how something can be a big impact on one’s life no matter what it is, who they are, or where they come from.

Pichardo 4
SOURCE SHEET
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart.

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