Obi Okonkwo has absorbed Western ideals of marriage, believing that he should be allowed to marry whomever he wants, whenever he wants, because it only affects himself. But when he falls in love with a woman of an "untouchable" caste, and his family and friends are not ready for a revolution in marriage traditions, Obi discovers that he is unwilling to be a pioneer if it means rejection and isolation. Ultimately, he acquiesces to the wishes of his friends and family.
Although Obi believes the time has come to accept Western norms for marriage, he discovers that certain traditions – like class and social status – are stronger than he realized.
Even though Obi believes that his love for Clara is stronger than his need to be accepted by society, and even though he sees himself as an individual, he soon realizes that he personally is incapable of defying his family's wishes.