Things Fall Apart Chapter 8 Summary

Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

Jackie has taught college English and Critical Thinking and has a Master's degree in English Rhetoric and Composition

In Chapter 8 of Chinua Achebe's novel ''Things Fall Apart,'' Okonkwo deals with the death of young Ikemefuna. He tries to move forward by involving himself in the customs of the village, which Achebe describes.

Okonkwo In Mourning

At the beginning of the eighth chapter, Okonkwo mourns for two days after Ikemefuna's death. He gets drunk on palm wine and sits awake by himself; he tries to get his son Nwoye to sit with him, but Nwoye is scared of his father and escapes at the first chance. Okonkwo cannot forget Ikemefuna, however, and it is not until the third day when Okonkwo's wife Ekwefi makes him some food and his daughter Ezinma brings it to him that Okonkwo begins to clear his head. He eats the fish and thinks about Ezinma, seeing her as so spirited and confident that he thinks that she should have been born a boy. After eating and taking some tobacco, Okonkwo resolves to stop being emotional about Ikemefuna's death, which he sees as behavior that's too feminine, and goes out to find something to occupy his time.

Okonkwo's Friend Obierika

Okonkwo stops by the hut of his friend Obierika. They chat about numerous things; first, Obierika asks Okonkwo to stop by later in the day because he must negotiate a bride-price; in other words, he must negotiate for money in exchange for selling his daughter off for marriage to a young man. Then, Obierika's son Maduka walks in, and Okonkwo compliments him on his excellent wrestling match at the Festival of the New Yam. Okonkwo then complains that the only one of his children who has the spirit of a man is his daughter Ezinma, and he singles Nwoye out as particularly disappointing.

Okonkwo then tries to reassert his own masculinity by questioning Obierika about why Obierika did not come on the party that killed Ikemefuna. Obierika argues that he did not personally want to get involved; when Okonkwo says that the village oracle demanded that they put Ikemefuna to death, Obierika responds that while he respects the oracle, he would never personally carry out such a killing and neither should Okonkwo have done so.

Ofoedu, a local man, comes by at that time and breaks up the argument with some news. After the men share a kola nut and chat, Ofoedu tells of the death of an old man in the village, Ogbuefi, and his wife, Ozoemena. He notes that strangely enough, after Ogbuefi died, his wife called out for him three times and then died herself almost immediately after; the men are not too surprised when they consider how close the couple was. They discuss how much Ogbuefi relied on Ozoemena. This causes Okonkwo to doubt the manliness of Ogbuefi even though Ogbuefi was a great warrior.

Finally, Okonwko goes home to get sap from his palm trees to make wine, giving a promise to Obierika to come back for the selling of Obierika's daughter. Before Okonkwo leaves, he and Obierika make small talk about the customs of the clan; Obierika questions some of them (such as who is allowed to climb taller palm trees in order to get sap from them), but Okonkwo stresses that Umuofia has the best customs and makes sure that only the best men are given social standing.

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