Chapters 1–3

Okonkwo, a respected warrior of the Umuofia clan, travels to the village of Mbaino to deliver the message that they must hand over a virgin and a young man as retribution for the murder of an Umuofia tribesman’s wife. Mbaino agrees, and the elders of Umuofia give the virgin to Ogbuefi Udo as his wife and give the young boy, Ikemefuna, to Okonkwo for safekeeping and instruction. Okonkwo looks down upon weakness, a trait he associates with his father Unoka, and his experience of acquiring wealth proved Okonkwo’s fortitude and inner mettle.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 1–3

Chapters 4–6

During the Week of Peace, Okonkwo beats his youngest wife, Ojiugo, and after breaking the Peace of Ani, is forced to sacrifice animals and pay a fine. Before the harvest, the village holds the Feast of the New Yam, which Okonkwo does not care for as it is a period of idleness. Okonkwo, with nothing to do, comes up with an excuse to beat his second wife, Ekwefi, and almost shoots her. A wrestling match takes place, and Ekwefi speaks with Chielo, the priestess of Agbala, who tells Ekwefi that her daughter Ezinma has come to stay.

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Chapters 7 & 8

The relationship between Ikemefuna and Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son, begins to grow, much to Okonkwo’s pleasure, but after locusts descend upon the village, the Oracle decrees Ikemefuna’s death, with Okonkwo instructed not to take part in the killing. However, Okonkwo does kill him as a show of strength after Ikemefuna is attacked by another man. Okonkwo, having sunk into a depression, visits his friend Obierika and is asked to stay when his daughter’s suitor arrives to determine the bride-price. Okonkwo’s spirits are lifted after he decides that his depression was a result of idleness, at which point someone arrives to report the death of the oldest man in the village, and the men discuss the customs of other villages as well as a man with white skin named Amadi who is a leper.

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Chapters 9–11

Ezinma falls ill, worrying Okonkwo and Ekwefi, whose nine other children died in infancy, reaffirming Ekwefi’s fear that they are being tormented by an ogbanje. Later, the village holds a ceremonial gathering to administer justice, where they listen to village disputes. Ekwefi imparts a story to Ezinma about a greedy, cunning tortoise, but when Chielo informs Ekwefi that the Oracle wishes to see Ezinma, Ekwefi panics until Okonkwo calms her, and she recalls leaving her first husband to be with Okonkwo.

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Chapters 12 & 13

Okonkwo continues to worry about Ezinma throughout Obierika’s daughter’s betrothal ceremony. During Ezeudu’s funeral, Okonkwo’s gun accidentally goes off, killing Ezeudu’s sixteen-year-old son. As punishment, Okonkwo and his family must go into exile for seven years, have their house burned down, and have their animals killed.

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Chapters 14–16

Okonkwo and his family relocate to Mbanta with the help of Okonkwo’s uncle Uchendu, who addresses Okonkwo’s disappointment with wise advice. During the second year of Okonkwo’s exile, Obierika brings Okonkwo money that he has made selling Okonkwo’s yams, and tells them about Abame, a village that was destroyed by white men. Obierika returns to Mbanta two years later and relates to Okonkwo that Nwoye has been seen with the Christian missionaries.

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Chapters 17–19

The missionaries succeed in building a church in the Evil Forest and garnering converts, much to the elders’ surprise as they believed that the spirts of the forest would kill them off. Mr. Kiaga, the translator for the missionaries, persuades the converts not to reject their new faith. When one Christian dies after boasting of killing a sacred royal python, the villagers’ trust in their gods is reaffirmed, convincing them to cease ostracizing the converts, a decision Okonkwo finds unfavorable. Before returning to Umuofia as his seven-year exile comes to an end, Okonkwo holds a feast for the village, where he expresses his concern that Christianity is winning people away from their families and traditions.

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Chapters 20 & 21

Okonkwo returns to Umuofia hoping to rebuild his compound and marry off his daughters, but he is disillusioned when he realizes that Umuofia has changed drastically due to the church’s influence upon the villagers. Mr. Brown, the white missionary, holds a discussion about religion with Akunna, and while they do not agree with one another, they relish in the understanding of the other’s faith. Before falling ill and leaving the village, Mr. Brown informs Okonkwo that Nwoye is training to be a teacher, and Okonkwo in turn regrets the changes in his once warlike people.

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Chapters 22 & 23

After Mr. Brown is replaced with the strict Reverend James Smith, the converts become even more zealous, in particular Enoch who commits a crime by attempting to unmask an egwugwu during the annual ceremony to honor the earth deity. The egwugwu defy Smith’s orders by burning down the church, and are thus called upon by the District Commissioner, who apprehends and sets a bail for the captured villagers.

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Chapters 24 & 25

Okonkwo returns to the village after being released, adamant about the best course of action he should take. He carries this action out when he kills a messenger during a meeting with the nine villages. Eventually, after the District Commissioner is told by Obierika that Okonkwo is not home, Obierika leads the Commissioner to Okonkwo’s whereabouts, only to find that Okonkwo has hung himself, a grave sin disallowing the clansmen from touching Okonkwo’s body. The Commissioner departs, thinking to himself that the circumstances surrounding Okonkwo’s death will make an interesting paragraph or two in a book he is working on about Africa.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters 24 & 25