What is ironic about Okonkwo's feelings for Ikemefuna, in contrast to his feelings for Nwoye in Things Fall Apart?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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It is ironic that Okonkwo loves Ikmefuna like a son. He is the young man that he wishes Nwoye would have been. Although Nwoye is Okonkwo's biological son, Okonkwo favors Ikemefuna. Ironically, Ikemefuna is Okonkwo's choice for a son:

From the beginning, Ikemefuna fills the void in Okonkwo's life that Okonkwo's own son cannot.

Okonkwo is pleased with the young man that Ikemefuna is. He wishes that Nwoye had the tendencies that Ikemefuna has. Everyone falls in love with Ikemefuna:

He earns everyone's love and respect because he is so lively and talented.

Ikemefuna is gifted at the masculine traits. This pleases Okonkwo. Ironically, Okonkwo chooses Ikemefuna over Nwoye. Ikemefuna has become Okonkwo's son. Okonkwo truly appreciates Ikemefuna for teaching Nwoye to be a man:

Ikemefuna already knows much about the world and can do almost anything. He can identify birds, trap rodents, and make flutes. He knows which trees make the best bows and tells delightful folk stories. Okonkwo appreciates Ikemefuna for the example he sets for Nwoye.

It is ironic that Okonkwo would favor Ikemefuna over his own biological son. One would think that Okonkwo would not show the favoritism that he does. Clearly, Ikemefuna is Okonkwo's choice. Ikemefuna pleases Okonkwo. Ironically, Nwoye does not have his father's heart.

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