Ikemefuna is dead. I could feel it the moment the men returned. It welled up inside like a tight knot in my throat. Even if I had dared to cry in front of my father I could not have. My body is numb, limp with grief. Ikemefuna was my dearest friend. He was my brother. I hate this clan. I will never be man enough for my father and I will never be able to respect the elders again. How can I pray to a goddess whose will is to destroy all that I hold dear?
“What are you doing here?” Obierika had asked when after many difficulties the missionaries had allowed him to speak to the boy.
- Nwoye grows up in Okonkwo's household as his firstborn son. This puts a lot of pressure and expectations on Nwoye to be the perfect son that Okonkwo wants, since he will inherit his father's possessions when he dies. Nwoye doesn't get a lot (if any) affection or encouragement from Okonkwo; he gets it from his mother, causing him to bond more closely to her. Okonkwo beats him constantly for being womanly, despite Nwoye trying his hardest to be manly.
- Two major events shape Nwoye's life and environment: the first is hearing a pair of abandoned twins crying in the Evil forest. Nwoye at this point is young enough to know the rules of his tribe/society, but not old enough to understand them. The sound of the twins crying freaks Nwoye out a little bit, and he doesn't understand why the children have been abandoned. The second event is the killing of Ikemefuna. Ikemefuna enters Nwoye's life when both children are pretty young, and they spend three years bonding and growing up together. They become brothers, which gives Nwoye some companionship of his own age. Ikemefuna is more manly than Nwoye, and influences Nwoye to participate in manly actions such as listening to their father's war stories. Even though Nwoye doesn't really understand how this "manliness" is supposed to be enjoyable, it puts him in his father's good graces and stops the beatings. Ikemefuna not only becomes Nwoye's friend and brother, but his protector in this way. When Ikemefuna is killed, it really affects Nwoye because he has lost a large part of his life: his brother, friend, and protector. Not only that, but Nwoye cant' understand why Ikemefuna had to be killed, and why his father had to help in killing him. This drives Nwoye away from his father and his tribe; he retreats back to his mother and her calming, loving hut.
- Moving to Mbanta is what ultimately forces Nwoye away from his father and his former environment. The peaceful ways of Mbanta and its value of women make sense to Nwoye, and make him feel at home. He is the opposite of his father, so while his father struggles in this new environment, Nwoye thrives. The missionaries in Mbanta make sense to Nwoye, too; their messages of peace, forgiveness, and love are exactly the opposite of his father and his former tribe, so Nwoye embraces them. The violence he had experienced in his past from his father, the abandonment of twin babies, and the killing of his brother forced him away from that society and into the missionaries' arms. Okonkwo exiles Nwoye, but this seems to be just what Nwoye wants: to get away from his father and his father's tribe and culture, and to run away to a place whose values match his own. He runs away to a place where he can finally feel like he belongs.