How does Achebe foreshadow the ultimate fate of Ikemefuna?

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Achebe foreshadows Ikemefuna 's fate in the first two chapters of the novel through specific language. At the end of chapter 1, Ikemefuna is immediately introduced as a "doomed lad who was sacrificed." In the last sentence of this chapter, he is referred to as "ill-fated." The language indicates an...

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Achebe foreshadows Ikemefuna's fate in the first two chapters of the novel through specific language. At the end of chapter 1, Ikemefuna is immediately introduced as a "doomed lad who was sacrificed." In the last sentence of this chapter, he is referred to as "ill-fated." The language indicates an impending tragedy with regard to Ikemefuna. In chapter 2, his story is described as "sad." Okonkwo is appointed his guardian as the clan decides what to do with him. Achebe then reveals that Ikemefuna lived with Okonkwo for three years. This last detail, combined with the description of Ikemefuna and his story, leads the reader to infer that his time with Okonkwo will be short. Also, the reader can infer that his ending will not be a happy one.

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Ikemefuna's fate is one of the most difficult parts of Achebe's novel. It's not much of a mystery that Ikemefuna will come to a bad end: he's introduced as the "doomed lad" who was given to Umuofia explicitly as a sacrifice. Okonkwo's role in Ikemefuna's death, however, is not clear, but is foreshadowed by the narrator's assessment of Okonkwo's character in the paragraphs immediately following Ikemefuna's coming to live with Okonkwo. Okonkwo hates everything his father loved, especially "gentleness and idleness." It's clear that Okonkwo's fear of being seen as "weak" will cause him to act against the boy, and, for the boy's part, "he could not understand what was happening to him or what he had done."

Okonkwo's growing regard for Ikemefuna, Ikmefuna's friendship with Okonkwo's son Nwoye, and Ikemefuna's tendency to refer to Okonkwo as "father" all point to a reckoning, since we know that Okonkwo eventually will not be able to abide by the tenderness he feels for the boy. In fact, it is because Okonkwo has become the boy's father figure that he is told to not participate in his killing, but it is this prohibition that naturally causes Okonkwo to kill him as a show of strength.

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At the end of Chapter 1, Achebe foreshadows Ikemefuna’s death by referring to him as a “doomed lad” who is “ill-fated.” In Chapter 2, Okonkwo returns home from Mbaino with Ikemefuna. Achebe again foreshadows his ultimate fate by mentioning that Ikemefuna’s “sad story” is still told to this day in Umuofia. Shortly after, Achebe writes that Ikemefuna only lived with Okonkwo for three years. The reader can infer that something tragic will happen to Ikemefuna in at least three years. As was mentioned in the previous post, many scholars believe that Okonkwo breaking the Week of Peace foreshadows Ikemefuna’s death. In Chapter 7, Ezeudu informs Okonkwo that Umuofia has decided to kill Ikemefuna but Okonkwo must not have a hand in his death. The next day, Achebe writes that “a deathly silence descended Okonkwo’s compound” before the men begin their journey with Ikemefuna. The silence gives an ominous mood to the atmosphere. After the men travel a distance from the village, Okonkwo ends up killing Ikemefuna because he does not want to be viewed as weak.

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Even though Ikemefuna is beginning to feel comfortable living with Okonkwo, he is a sacrificial offering from the time he's given to Okonkwo. Achebe refers to Ikemefuna as a "doomed, ill-fated lad" since he has been given to Umuofia to atone for murder.

Some critics have also seen the event when Okonkwo breaks the peace during the Week of Peace as foreshadowing Ikemefuna's death. Okonkwo beats his youngest wife, and the priest has Okonkwo sacrifice a goat and a hen as part of his repentance. His willingness to do this might foreshadow Okonkwo's willingness to kill Ikemefuna.

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