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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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Find two pieces of evidence (quote/summarized details) for and analyze (two statements) how Ikemefuna and Okonkwo represent the following theme from Things Fall Apart: the influence that role models can have on the development of an individual's identity.

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One example of how a character's development is affected by a role model is Okonkwo, who is driven by his dislike of his father, Unoka. Unoka is a loafer and a coward; he lives on borrowed money that he never pays back. Okonkwo is ashamed of his father, and is determined to be the opposite of him in everything. Okonkwo's work ethic and his ambition to be a leader stem from this bad role model. This is made explicit in the first chapter.

Ikemefuma is another tragic example of how Okonkwo's relationship with his father poisons his other relationships. A kind of peace token given to Umuofia by a neighboring tribe, the boy Ikemefuna is raised in Okonkwo's household and comes to look up to him as a father and role model. But Okonkwo was "ruled by one passion—to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved": in particular, gentleness and idleness. So, even though Ikemefuna a member of his family, Okonkwo does not oppose the decision to kill Ikemefuna and disregards the advice to not go on the journey during which the boy will be executed. The boy, trusting in Okonkwo, goes along quietly; Okonkwo, driven by fear of seeming weak like his father, actually delivers the final blow.

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