From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

  

by Chinua Achebe

Ikemefuna

Character Analysis

(Click the character infographic to download.)

Ikemefuna is a fifteen-year-old boy from a neighboring clan, Mbaino, who is given up to Umuofia as a sacrifice for killing one of the women of Umuofia. He lives with Okonkwo’s family for three years before the elders order him to be killed. In those three years, he grows very close to Okonkwo's family, especially Nwoye. Okonkwo even prefers him to his true son Nwoye, considering Ikemefuna to be a promising, hard-working young man. His murder, in which Okonkwo takes a part, haunts Okonkwo throughout the book.

From the very beginning, Ikemefuna is the ultimate victim; his fate is completely out of his control since he is taken away by his family so early in life for a crime which he had no part in, nor any knowledge of. In his new life, Ikemefuna is subject to the whims of his new father and the Umuofia elders, in whose hands his fate ultimately lies.

Ikemefuna is a prime example of how Okonkwo’s fear of being like his father – feminine and cowardly – drives him to make a poor, regrettable decision. He joins in killing Ikemefuna because he is afraid of being weak, yet he is haunted by his decision and it also permanently emotionally distances him from Nwoye.

Ikemefuna Timeline
Advertisement