Things Fall Apart

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Things Fall Apart Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ikemefuna has spent three years in Okonkwo's household, becoming a part of his new family. He is especially close to Nwoye, who begins to enjoy performing more masculine tasks around the house, pleasing his father. Okonkwo realizes that this is due to Ikemefuna's influence, and he encourages the boys to sit with him in his obi as he tells war stories. Nwoye inwardly prefers his mother's folktales, but he pretends to disdain women's stories in order to please Okonkwo.
Ikemefuna not only has fit into the family, he has a kind of healing effect between Nwoye and Okonkwo. Okonkwo now tries to teach the boys about how to be men by telling them about war—an activity in which strength and aggression is key. While Nwoye prefers more peaceful "feminine" stories, his attachment to Ikemefuna and father inspire him to hide this fact.
Themes
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
The locusts arrive in Umuofia. They come once in a generation, and their arrival is celebrated as a new source of food. They arrive in the cold season after the harvests, as Okonkwo and the boys are working on the outer walls of the compound. They come in a small swarm at first, but then they descend and settle in on all the outer surfaces of the compound. As Okonkwo and the boys are enjoying their feast of locusts, Ogbuefi Ezeudu arrives to speak with Okonkwo, informing him that the clan has decided to kill Ikemefuna. Ezeudu advises him not to participate in the killing, since Ikemefuna calls him father.
Ikemefuna again represents doomed fate, or the lack of free will. The fact that he calls Okonkwo “father” is significant, especially since names are so important in Umuofia culture. By calling Okonkwo father, Ikemefuna is creating a bond that's as strong as blood. Ezeudu advises Okonkwo not to break or betray that bond. Okonkwo could even use his strength and prestige to refuse or try to change the verdict from the clan leaders.
Themes
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
A group of elders arrive at Okonkwo's house early the next morning to discuss Ikemefuna's fate. After they leave, Okonkwo calls Ikemefuna to tell him that he'll be taken home the next day. Nwoye bursts into tears upon hearing the news, and Okonkwo beats him heavily. The rest of the household intuits the truth, and even Ikemefuna feels that he will not really be going home.
Again, others come in to discuss Ikemefuna's fate; he has no say in what will happen to him. Okonkwo's beating of Nwoye seems like it is an example of Okonkwo trying to look strong even though he himself feels emotions similar to Nwoye.
Themes
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
The next day, the party sets out with Ikemefuna and Okonkwo, who disregards Ezeudu's advice. Ikemefuna is reassured by Okonkwo's presence, feeling that Okonkwo truly is his father. He imagines what it will be like to see his mother and sister again, and worries that his mother might be dead now. As he's thinking, he hears a man behind him clear his throat. When he looks back, the man growls at him to go on, and then he slices Ikemefuna with his machete. Ikemefuna cries for Okonkwo, running towards him, and Okonkwo strikes the killing blow, afraid that other will find him weak.
Ikemefuna's fate is finally carried out in this passage, and he's killed by none other than Okonkwo, who deals the killing blow because he's afraid of seeming feminine and weak. This is a critical point: Okonkwo is more concerned with looking strong to others than in protecting those whom he loves or in doing the right thing. His shame at the prospect of looking weak makes him kill a boy who had come to trust him and see him as a father, and who he saw as a son.
Themes
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Masculinity Theme Icon
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When Okonkwo walks into the house at night, Nwoye knows that Ikemefuna has been killed, and he feels something give way inside him—the same way he felt when he came across a set of twins left to die in the forest during the last harvest season.
Although Ikemefuna is a victim of fate, Okonkwo made the choice to strike him down. Nwoye begins to detach himself from tradition as well, repulsed by the violent customs of his people against those who are weak.
Themes
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon