In "Things Fall Apart," why does Achebe include the subplot of Ikemefuna and his death?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Okonkwo has always been plagued by his father's weaknesses and failures. The subplot of Ikemefuna and his death shows the degree to which Okonkwo is haunted by the memories of his father and the lengths he will go to avoid being seen as weak as his father. Even though he loves Ikemefuna as a son, Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna because he is afraid of being thought of as weak. He rationalizes his part in Ikemefuma's death by saying that a man who had killed five men in battle should not fall to pieces over the death of a boy. However,the wise Obierika tells Okonkwo that his actions would not please the earth and could bring destruction to his family, foreshadowing the eventual demise of Okonkwo.