Things Fall Apart

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Ikemefuna Character Analysis

Ikemefuna is the ill-fated boy the Mbaino sacrifice to Umuofia in order to prevent war. Ikemefuna is unaware that his father had a hand in killing one of the daughters of Umuofia and doesn't understand why he's taken away from his mother and sister. He settles into Okonkwo's household for three years and comes to consider Okonkwo his true father. Nwoye looks up to Ikemefuna, and the two become inseparable. At the end of three years, the clan decides that the boy must be killed, and Okonkwo deals the killing blow.

Ikemefuna Quotes in Things Fall Apart

The Things Fall Apart quotes below are all either spoken by Ikemefuna or refer to Ikemefuna. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tradition vs. Change Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of Things Fall Apart published in 1994.
Chapter 8 Quotes

Ezinma took the dish in one hand and the empty water bowl in the other and went back to her mother's hut. “She should have been a boy,” Okonkwo said to himself again. His mind went back to Ikemefuna and he shivered.

Related Characters: Okonkwo, Ikemefuna, Ezinma
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

Enzima gives Okonkwo a dish of plantains to break his fast, and she assertively commands him to finish them. Their exchange makes Okonkwo ruminate on her masculine qualities.

This passage further clarifies the gender roles in Umuofia society. Once more, the text divorces the sex of a character from the type of action he or she performs. It is possible for Enzima, for instance, to take on stereotypical masculine characteristics by being assertive with Okonkwo. This behavior earns her respect, for Okonkwo both follows the command and then praises her for making it. Yet when Okonkwo adds that “she should have been a boy,” the tone of the text changes: the masculine behaviors may be desirable, but they only make Okonkwo wish that they were housed in a male body as well. Thus even as the narrative breaks down some of the gender binaries at play, it also reaffirms them. Ultimately, at least for Okonkwo, the gender of actions and the sex of the character should conform to each other.

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Ikemefuna Character Timeline in Things Fall Apart

The timeline below shows where the character Ikemefuna appears in Things Fall Apart. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...of the greatest men of his time. As a result, he comes to look after Ikemefuna, the doomed boy who is later sacrificed to the village of Umuofia by their neighbors... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
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...days later to Umuofia with a 15-year-old boy and a virgin. The boy's name is Ikemefuna, and the narrator reveals that Ikemefuna's sad story will continue to be told in Umuofia... (full context)
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...will look after him until the elders decide his fate. For the next three years, Ikemefuna lives in Okonkwo's household. (full context)
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Masculinity Theme Icon
When Ikemefuna joins Okonkwo's household, Okonkwo hands him over to his most senior wife, who asks if... (full context)
Chapter 4
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The virgin is given to Udo as a wife, and Ikemefuna is placed in Okonkwo's care until the clan can decide what to do with him,... (full context)
Masculinity Theme Icon
Ikemefuna becomes popular in the household, and he grows very close with Nwoye in particular. Even... (full context)
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Masculinity Theme Icon
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Ikemefuna came to the household only a few days before the Week of Peace, during which... (full context)
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After the Week of Peace, Okonkwo begins preparing his seed-yams for planting. Nwoye and Ikemefuna help by counting, and occasionally Okonkwo allows them to prepare a few yams each. However,... (full context)
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Ikemefuna feels like a member of the family, telling his own folktales from the Mbaino. He... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...farm. His wives and children, however, are excited with the preparations, cleaning and decorating, and Ikemefuna in particular is excited to experience the feast. (full context)
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...signal the wrestling match, and as Ekwefi prepares the meal, she hears Nwoye's sister weeping. Ikemefuna and the first wife's children file in with dinner pots, but Nwoye's sister comes empty-handed.... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Ikemefuna has spent three years in Okonkwo's household, becoming a part of his new family. He... (full context)
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...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. (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...and the next planting season. He calls himself a woman for his reaction to killing Ikemefuna and decides to visit his friend Obierika. Okonkwo shakes hands with Obierika's son and then... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...old man had visited him and advised him not to participate in the killing of Ikemefuna. (full context)
Chapter 16
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...and in fear. It reminded him of the twins crying in the bush and of Ikemefuna. (full context)