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

2 Answers

lsumner's profile pic

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.

gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ikemefuna is a fifteen-year-old boy from a neighboring tribe who is given to Umuofia as a sacrifice. Ikemefuna lives with Okonkwo's family for three years and is beloved by everyone in the household. Ikemefuna is masculine and possesses many character traits that Okonkwo admires. As was mentioned in the previous post, Okonkwo values Ikemefuna's ability to identify birds and trap rodents. Okonkwo is also pleased with the effect that Ikemefuna has had on Nwoye. Okonkwo enjoys Ikemefuna and loves him like a son.

Nwoye is Okonkwo's biological son who he views with contempt. In contrast to Ikemefuna, Okonkwo feels that Nwoye is effeminate and overly sensitive. Okonkwo shuns Nwoye and wishes that Ikemefuna was his biological son. Ironically, Okonkwo is closer with his adoptive son than he is with his biological son. Unfortunately, Okonkwo takes matters into his own hands when he kills Ikemefuna, and Nwoye rebels by converting to Christianity.

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