What are the main themes in Chapter 7 of Things Fall Apart?

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

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Just when it seems the elders have forgotten about sacrificing Ikemefuna, one of the elders comes to Okonkwo and states that the Oracle of the Hills and Caves has decided to follow through with the ritualistic sacrifice.

Ikemefuna has been living with Okonkwo for three years. He is a part of the family. He calls Okonkwo father. Now, the time has come for him to be sacrificed:

Ogbuefi Ezeudu, the oldest man in the village tells Okonkwo that Umuofia has decided to kill Ikemefuna because the Oracle of Hills and Caves has pronounced the boy’s death.

Okonkwo is advised to not have any part in killing Ikemefuna. The elders and Ikemefuna start down the path through the forest. Ikemefuna thinks he is going home. He does not realize he is about to be sacrificed. He is carrying a wine pot on his head. One of the elders hits Ikemefuna with his machete. Okonkwo moves toward the rear. Ikemefuna runs toward Okonkwo, exclaiming that he has been killed. Okonkwo finishes killing Ikemefuna. He does not want to appear to be weak:

Okonkwo does not listen to Ezeudu’s warning. He joins the party, and he provides comfort and assurance for his unsuspecting adopted son on the journey through the forest. However, Okonkwo does retire to the rear of the party when Ikemefuna receives the first blow. He does not expect the injured boy to run to him. Okonkwo deals the death blow to Ikemefuna as part of a ritual sacrifice because he is afraid of appearing weak.

Nwoye, Okonkwo's son, is confused. He realizes that it is wrong to sacrifice people. He is highly disturbed by the incident. This upsets Okonkwo. He desires for Nwoye to be a man and not show any emotions over the death of Ikemefuna.

Nwoye is chilled by Ikemefuna's sacrificial death. He also can't understand other ritualistic sacrifices. He cannot understand why twins are thrown in the forest to die. Nwoye is sensitive. He begins questioning his tribe's rituals. For Nwoye, sacrificial killing is wrong.

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