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Drums and cannons sound and women wail, signaling the death of the oldest man in the village, Ezedu. He was the man who warned Okonkwo to “bear no hand in [Ikemefuna’s] death.”
Ezedu’s funeral is a big deal because he was one of the head honchos of the Umuofia. Even the ancestral spirits, the egwugwu, come to pay their respects and lament.
During the final salute, when the drums sound loudly and guns and cannons are fired, an accident occurs.
Ezedu’s sixteen-year-old son falls dead from a gunshot through the heart. He and his brothers had been performing a final dance to honor their father.
The offending gun is Okonkwo’s.
The Umuofia consider killing a clansman a horrible crime, one that offends the earth goddess. But, since the boy’s death was clearly an accident (considered female because it was unintentional), Okonkwo only receives the punishment of exile from the Umuofia villages for seven years.
Okonkwo must spend his seven years of banishment in his motherland (literally, the land from which his mother comes), a village called Mbanta.
That same night, Okonkwo and his weeping wives and children pack their belongings.
Just after Okonkwo and his family leave, a group of men, including Okonkwo’s best friend, Obierika, destroy Okonkwo’s home and slaughter his livestock.
The narrator makes it clear that Obierika doesn’t join the destruction out of spite; he and the other men feel the need to cleanse the land of Okonkwo’s crime to satisfy the earth goddess.
Obierika clearly sympathizes with Okonkwo. He asks himself “why should a man suffer so grievously for an offense he had committed inadvertently?” Yet, in the end, Obierika can do nothing to oppose the law of the Earth.