Okonkwo’s participation in the slaying of his adopted son, Ikemefuna is a pivotal moment in Things Fall Apart. It is a moment of horror that cannot please Ani, the great earth goddess, the center of community, the ultimate judge of morality for the clan. It is a moment that changes the course of events, a moment eerily paralleled in the death of Ezeudu’s son. It is a moment that ultimately causes Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye’s to abandon his ancestors and become a Christian. It is a moment when the center of community life, the need to honor blood ties and the need to respect the earth goddess, can no longer hold. It is a moment when things fall apart.
"That boy calls you father. Do not bear a hand in his death," advises Ezeudu, the oldest and most respected man in the village (Achebe 57). Although he treats the boy as a son (28), Okonkwo’s greatest fear is to be thought effeminate. He ignores Ezeudu’s advice and accompanies the party that takes Ikemefuna to his death. Ikemefuna feels safe, not believing that harm will come to him while his fos...
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