In Achebe's Things Fall Apart, why does Okonkwo partake in the killing of his adopted son when he does not have to? How does he react after Ikemefuna's death and how does he get over it?

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Posted on (Answer #1)

Ikemefuna is paid to Okonkwo from a rival village as punishment. Quickly, Ikemefuna becomes the type of son the ambitious and hardworking Okonkwo always expected but never saw in his own son Nwoye. Quickly, Ikemefuna and Okonkwo form a bond.

Although Okonkwo is seen as a great warrior and leader in his tribe, his fellow tribesmen decide he has grown too arrogant when he breaks the Week of Peace, and as punishment, they decide to sacrafice Ikemefuna. Typically, the killing of an adoptive son from a rival tribe would not be expected to be so difficult, but everyone knows how close Okonkwo has grown to the boy.

Okonkwo is told he does not have to take part in the killing, but he demands it. When the time come Okonkwo uses his own hand to take part in Ikemefuna's violent death. This represents one of his tragic flaws- Okonkwo's fear of appearing weak (human).  

As the killing takes place, Nwoye feels a chill and knows something has happened to his beloved adopted brother. Okonkwo has gone against the tribe and human nature by taking part in the killing of someone he loves. He drinks for two days and lashes out at himself in self anger and pity. 





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