Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Describe the killing of Ikemefuna in Things Fall Apart.  

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter seven, Okonkwo and his family are enjoying roasted cicadas when Ogbuefi Ezeudu visits his compound and instructs Okonkwo not to play a role in Ikemefuna's death. Ogbuefi Ezeudu goes on to say that the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves has pronounced that Ikemefuna must die outside of Umuofia. Two days later, a group of elders arrives at Okonkwo's compound, and Ikemefuna follows them, under the belief that he will be returning home. The elders are fully dressed in their traditional clothing and are holding machetes. Achebe writes that a deathly silence descended over Okonkwo's compound when the group of men and Ikemefuna began their journey.

At the beginning of the journey, the men talk and laugh, but silence quickly falls upon the group the further they travel from Umuofia. Achebe also writes that the faint sound of beating drums echoes in the air as the group enters the forest. Despite the ominous atmosphere, Ikemefuna feels safe knowing that Okonkwo is with him. Shortly after entering the forest, everything becomes quiet before one of the men suddenly strikes Ikemefuna with his machete. Ikemefuna drops his pot and screams, "My father, they have killed me!" (Achebe, 42). Okonkwo then races toward Ikemefuna, draws his machete, and cuts him down.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It is in Chapter Seven in which this sad event in the novel occurs. Key men from the tribe come to the house of Okonkwo with a pot of wine, dressed in their ceremonial finery. They leave with Ikemefuna carrying the pot of wine. As they journey, the men talk about normal things, but as they leave Umuofia, silence falls upon them. As they carry on, they hear the faint beating of the ekwe, a type of tribal drum. The men keep on pressing ahead. We are told that Ikemefuna felt uneasy at first, but what calms him is the presence of his "father," Okonkwo. We are shown Ikemefuna's thoughts about returning to his family. Suddenly, one of the men cleared his throat, and Ikemefuna is told to continue without looking back. Ikemefuna suddenly becomes incredibly afraid. As the men begin to kill Ikemefuna, Okonkwo hears his plaintive cry:

"My father, they have killed me!"

However, this does not stop Okonkwo himself running towards him and joining in the slaughter, out of fear that the others might consider him "weak" if he did not.

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