In his well-celebrated work, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe continues to explore a number of factors that hold families and communities together. In chapter seven, the context takes the reader three years ahead in an occasion whereby Ikemefuna has wholly settled in Okonkwo household. This has made the entire community to consider him as part of the family. Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye seems to be learning a lot from Ikemefuna as he emulates his masculine manner which pleases his father. Okonkwo holds Ikemefuna with dignity because he has influenced his son to develop interests in war stories and because of their perspective towards women (Achebe 56). Okonkwo engages the two young men into a conversation in an attempt to make them more conversant with their protective roles in the community in times of calamities. These events unfold when the village has been surprised by locust’s arrival a phenomenon that occurs in every seven years. Later, Ikemefuna develops fear and rethinks of going back to his family; however, Okonkwo plots a deal to kill him something that leaves his son devastated. Achebe uses this chapter to create a devastating experience that provokes reader’s compassion on Ikemefuna while still foreshadowing the fall of Okonkwo (26).
The author applies different descriptions that create tensions for characters. He creates tension by developing horrifying scenes that scare his son and Ikemefuna as well. The setting and atmosphere of the Igbo community create a horrifying mood especially when the author uses the symbols of fire and locust to predict the future destruction of the community through the colonization and scattering of the community’s clansmen. Therefore, the tension created by the nature of the community corresponds to the community’s struggle for change from its traditional perspectives to bridge the cultural differences (Achebe 36).
The theme of foreshadowing has been used to create tension throughout chapter seven. The author’s vivid description of Ikemefuna as unlucky and ill-fated boy predicts his irony and the characters murder by Okonkwo later in the play. Similarly, the appearance of a swarm of locusts foreshadows the upcoming arrival of foreigners who would colonize the community. In addition, at some point, Obierika suggests that Okonkwo will kill himself. This tension foretells Okonkwo’s suicide mission, which foretells Okonkwo eventual suicide (Achebe 40). In this case, the author’s aspect of tension has been used to foreshadow major events that happened at the end the story.
Likewise, Achebe applies an irony theme to capture emotions and experiences of his son and Ikemefuna to create sympathy. In an ironic catastrophe, the author uses the opening scene of the chapter to depict increasing affection and admiration that Okonkwo feels for Ikemefuna as well as his son, Nwoye. The old man quotes how Ikemefuna has been a great inspiration to him and his son. The childhood experiences of Okonkwo increase the reader’s sympathy that justifies his actions of introducing his son and his friend Ikemefuna to war and violence stories as a way of preparing them to handle their community with courage. The author emphasizes on boy’s growth based on the interpretation of their growing masculinity that can be twisted to heroes who would defend the community from his main stories on violence and bloodshed that had lasted for long in their community (Achebe 45).
Nevertheless, the author intensifies the use of narration to create a more sympathetic environment for the readers. He begins the narrative by exploring the past events on the struggle between traditions and change. Achebe describes the protagonist’s encounters with the boys, Ikemefuna and his son, and their journey striving to be masculine and strong to defeat the Whiteman’s government’s messengers. The narration story makes readers sympathize with the protagonist’s efforts in saving his community (Achebe 50). The story makes the readers sympathize with the Okonkwo’s unending passion for his community through the sacrifices he made to bridge the gap between tradition and change. His failure to save his community makes his offer sacrifices by killing Ikemefuna and his final decision to commit suicide. The reader is also taken through the journey of the protagonist whose main objective was to unite the community against the colonial masters until his falling apart caused by his suicide mission (Achebe 46).
In his work, Chinua Achebe uses different themes and language style that allows him to communicate well with the readers. He utilizes both tension character and foreshadowing to bring out the elements of anxiety fear and sympathy throughout the chapter. Chapter 7 of Things Fall Apart is in form of narrative where the protagonist reveals his mission to unite the members of the Igbo community by making sacrifices. The chapter creates a number of foreshadowing that predicts the falling apart of the Okonkwo’s power after his plan to commit suicide. Similarly, the author’s irony has enhanced the reader’s sympathy for women and young boys whose contribution in leadership is limited. The environment has also been used to demonstrate the sympathy people had in the hands of the colonizers (Achebe 56).
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. 1st ed., EMC/Paradigm Pub., 2003.