Okonkwo, and Ibo person, is a member of the clan Umuofia. He has risen from being poor to becoming a person of high position. Umuofia is a powerful clan and through hard work, Okonkwo became a well-known man among his people. He has three wives and a barn full of the king crop, yams. His family is afraid of him because he rules them with an iron fist.
One day, a daughter of Umuofia was killed in the neighboring clan of Mbaino. To avoid war, Mbaino gave Umuofia a virgin and a young boy. The girl was to become the replacement for the slain woman. The boy, Ikemefuna, is to be sacrificed, but not right away. For three years he lived in Umuofia, under the watch of Okonkwo. He became like a part of Okonkwo's family. Okonkwo was liked the boy, although he does not show that he is. Okonkwo's son Nwoye became close with Ikemefuna. He loved Ikemefuna like a brother. Eventually, the Elders of the clan called for the boy's death, a group of men takes Ikemefuna to kill him in the forest. Even though he was advised by an Elder not to go with the men, Okonkwo fearful of being perceived as weak, went to kill the boy who called him father.
Because of the event Okonkwo can neither eat nor sleep for a few days. Although shaken, he continues with his drive to become a lord in his clan. He is consistently disappointed by his Nwoye but is very much in love with his daughter Enzima. Enzima is his child by his second wife, Ekwefi. Ekwefi had a hard time bearing children, she had given birth to nine babies before Enzima, but all of them had died. She lives Enzima with her whole heart and is always worried about her daughter's well being.
Enzima is physically weak and sometimes Ekwefi fears that her daughter might die too. Late one night a powerful Oracle of Umuofia brings Enzima with her to have a spiritual encounter with the earth goddess. Scared to death that her daughter might be harmed, Ekwefi follows the Oracle from a distance.