How does the writer create tension and convey sympathy for Ikemefuna in this passage from the novel?

A reflection on Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

In Chapter 7 the elders decide to sacrifice Ikemefuna, Okonkwo’s adopted sun. In the description of the preparation and carrying out of the act, Chinua Achebe creates tension and conveys sympathy for Ikemefuna by playing on the three concepts of secrecy, lack of awarness, and betrayal.

The concept of secrecy alluded to by the constant reminder or presence of silence consists in the greatest producer of tension. Right away, the reader knows something is wrong and Ikemefuna himself knows something is wrong when the adults “began to speak in low tones” and the two young boys are sent out of the room. Later in Okonkwo’s compound, “a deathly silence descended”. Such is then again present while walking towards the outside of the village “silence fell upon them” when there are also whispers amongst the men “Ikemefuna hear a whisper close behind him”. This need for secrecy and silence builds up the tense atmosphere foreshadowing that something dramatic is soon to happen. The author says, “Even the very little children seemed to know” which is both proof of secrecy and false awareness, did the children actually really know? Probably not.

In direct correlation with such secrecy is the victim’s, Ikemefuna’s, unawerness. Since all participants in his sacrifice are aware of what is going to happen and are trying to keep such a secret, Ikemefuna is not aware of what is going on and the reader is brought to feel sympathetic towards him - everybody is on the secret except him. However, Ikemefuna does have instinctive doubts about the situation as a whole, which he dismisses in the belief that he is safe because of his new family. Initially Ikemefuna “somehow new he was not going to see” his mother and sisters and return to his home village but then gradually calms down; “Although he had felt uneasy at first, he was not afraid now.”

This unawerness is not simply created due to other people’s secrecy, but also because of the concept of betrayal. Ikemefuna is not aware of his proximate sacrifice not just because it is being kept hidden from him but because he doesn’t expect it, he has grown into thinking he is part of the family and doesn’t doubt of their loyalty. “His own home had gradually become very faint and distant” but he had grown to love Okonkwo’s family. Also, right in the act of his sacrifice, Ikemefuna looks to Okonkwo in search for support: he was not afraid anymore becuase “Okonkwo walked behind him. He could barely imagine that Okonkwo was not his real father”. This strikes as conveying sympathy because it makes us feel even more compassionate towards Ikemefuna, underlining his position as a victim. Moreover, the elders are completely aware that Ikemefuna’s attachment to Okonkwo is sign that this is a form of betrayal, something too violent even for their tradition, infact the elder that announces to Okonkwo that Ikemefuna must be killed also tells him that he should not take part in the killing becuase the child calls him father: “That boy calls you father. Do not bear a hand in his death”. In contrast to this, Okonkwo is too obsessed with manlihood and power and demonstration of the latter, that he does bear a hand in his ‘sons’ death, a very heavy one - “Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his matchet  and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought week.” even right after Ikemefuna had called him “father” for the last time, pleading for help. This scene portrays Okonkwo as the villain making Ikemefuna’s position as a victim even stronger and therefore having the reader become even more sympathetic in his regards.

Marginally, there are other little references that both build up tension and convey sympathy for Ikemefuna throughout the passage. Firstly, the idea that many in the book feel pity for Ikemefuna; Nwoye’s mother “immideatly” dropped the pestel and sighed saying “poor child”, Nwoye cries all day. Plus, the idea that the world is going on even when such atrocity is happening and that people are being joyus; “Somewhere a man was taking one of the titles of the clan, with music and dancing and a great fest”. Also, a constant subtle reminder of the relationship between humans and nature, underlining how these men are taking the freedom to abruptly end a human life, given by descriptions like ones of majestic trees that “perhaps had stood from the beginning of things, untouched by the axe”.

In conclusion, Chinua Achebe plays on the ideas of secrecy through silence, unawarness and betrayal of loyalty, in order to respectively raise an atmosphere of tension and then pity and sympathy towards Ikemefuna. He does so throughout words, expressions and actions and distinctly separates roles between the characters portaying Okonkwo always more as the villain and Ikemefuna always more as the victim, still mantaining the idea that has been present throughout the whole novel, where man is sometimes challenging nature by taking some traditions to extreme extents and therefore moving away from the real purpose of the latter.

Things Fall Apart Short Essay

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Why does Okonkwo prefer Ikemefuna to his own son?

It is established early on in the story that as a result of the problems Okonkwo had with his lackadaisical father, Unoka he has little appreciation for weakness or laziness. It is even established very soon in the story that he equates weakness with femininity. He prides himself on how masculine he is although his definition of masculinity seems to be skewed in a more negative direction; it includes a hot-temper and violent outbursts that culminate in an abusive relationship between he and his family.

The boy, Ikemefuna is adopted by Okonkwo and forcibly made a member of his extensive family. He proved himself as a valuable addition to the family by providing a cornucopia of skills and abilities namely his skills with making flutes and rodent traps. He becomes like a big brother to Okonkwo’s other children and he even feels comfortable enough to call Okonkwo “father”. In comparison to Nwoye, Ikemefuna is a light in the darkness. Okonkwo’s family is generally composed of either women – who in his mind are inherently weak, and who are evidently not as strong as he in terms of their ability to complete hard labour – or children too young and small to do anything in a sufficient manner. From his perspective, Okonkwo is surrounded by weaklings.

Ikemefuna immediately fairs better than Nwoye does because of his apparent manliness. Fortunately for the sake of the family, his masculinity doesn’t manifest exactly like his adopted father’s. Okonkwo refuses to display any kind of emotion besides the occasional violent burst of anger. In a very clichéd fashion he believes that emotions are feminine and that would be inappropriate for him to express them. Ikemefuna on the other hand was nice to Nwoye and they became very close. Regardless, the idea is that compared to Ikemefuna everyone else in the family – Nwoye especially – was incompetent, weak and lazy. Additionally, as a result of him hailing from a different culture altogether, Ikemefuna came with an extensive set of new stories that the culture had never experienced before for the most part.  In the Igbo culture – like many African cultures – it is heavily oral-oriented. Much of their culture is expressed through story-telling. This adds to the list of impressive skills that he possesses.

Finally, before his murder, Ikemefuna inadvertently performed one last deed for Okonkwo. According to Okonkwo, he had influence on Nwoye’s behaviour, shaping him into the man that Okonkwo desired him to be. Nwoye himself has really been changing as a result of both Ikemefuna and his father’s behaviour. Having Ikemefuna as an example of the ideal son and being under the iron boot of his father made him come to the unfortunate conclusion that to be the man that his father wanted him to be he needed to become chauvinistic and rude, which in his mind was the epitome of masculine behaviour. 

IG redeploys AIGs, CPs for gov poll

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, has deployed Assistant Inspectors-General of Police to supervise the April 11 governorship election in some states of the federation.

A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, on Thursday explained that six Deputy Inspectors-General of Police had also been redeployed to coordinate police activities in the six geo-political zones.

The redeployed AIGs are, Aigusman Gwary (Abia); Olufemi Adenaike, (Kwara); Mbu. J. Mbu (Ogun); Patrick Dokumor (Kaduna); Tambari Mohammed (Jigawa); Mohammed Abubakar (Gombe); Ikemefuna Okoye (Oyo); Tunde Ogunsakin (Rivers); and Jubril Adeniji (Bauchi).

Others are, Yerima Irimiya (Imo); Adisa Bolanta (Akwa Ibom); Lawal Tanko (Lagos); Ballah Nasarawa (Benue); Musa Daura (Edo); Aderele Shinaba (Plateau ); and Bala Hassan (Sokoto).

The Commissioners of Police redeployed for election duties to states are,   Sam Okaula (Anambra); E. J. Ibine (Ekiti); Adamu Mohammed (Enugu); and Valentine Ntomchukwu (Osun).

The statement added that the IGP had also deployed a Commissioner of Police to command each of the senatorial districts of Gombe, Bauchi, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Benue, Edo, Plateau and Sokoto states.

For Rivers State, the IGP had redeployed the 32 Units of Police Mobile Force; 4 Units of Counter terrorism Units; 4 Units of Special Protection Units and 6 Crack Teams of Detectives from Force Criminal Investigation Department and complements of intelligence officers, to beef up security in Rivers State.

Meanwhile, Abba, has ordered restriction of vehicular movement in 36 states from 8am to 5pm during the elections on Saturday.

A statement by Ojukwu on Thursday in Abuja explained that the measure was to ensure safety and security during the polls.

According to the statement, “There is no restriction of vehicular movement in the Federal Capital Territory as there is no election taking place there on the said date.”

It added that the restriction excluded “vehicles on essential duty such as Fire Service, ambulances and vehicles used by the Independent National Electoral Commission and law enforcement/security agencies.’’

The statement assured members of the public that adequate security logistics and manpower had been deployed to achieve conducive atmosphere for the polls.

It said that policemen on election duty had been properly briefed on their roles as stipulated in the Electoral Act.

It said, “They are expected to be professional, non-partisan, civil but firm in their approach and relation to the public.’’

It called on the citizens to remain vigilant and report all suspicious movements or dealings to appropriate police authority.

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More Gist Here

In class we are reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and I absolutely hate it, or rather I hate Okonkwo’s character. I know how it ends and I don’t find it a tragedy, yes, Okonkwo is great in his clan, the man that finally threw the Cat, but really that’s the only great thing he’s done, he’s a misogynist who regularly beats his wives (and tries to shoot his third wife but fails due to being a shitty marksman), beats his child, Nwoye (who later changes his name to Isaac), and kills a boy who calls him father (his basically adoptive son, Ikemefuna)- all due to his fear of being seen as weak. I understand this is his ‘fatal flaw’ but it doesn’t make Okonkwo sympathetic, it literally turns him into a raging monster with anger and daddy issues. The best characters in this book are Ikemefuna and Nwoye (Isaac), Nwoye is just a depressed, slightly lazy young boy who lived under the fear of his father’s hand and chose Christianity, in part to escape his abusive father. Ikemefuna was a kid who live with Okonkwo who Okonkwo loved as a son (and probably loved him more than his son as he saw many traits of his father in Nwoye), and ultimately Okonkwo himself killed this young boy for fear of being weak.