Okonkwo and the other leaders are set free once the fine is paid, but they leave in brooding silence, not speaking to any of the clansmen they pass. Ezinma prepares a meal for her father, and he eats only to please her, even though he has no appetite.
The silence is ominous. The unwillingness of the leaders to speak with the other villagers attests to the shame they feel at their treatment and the loss of power it symbolizes. Okonkwo's loss of appetite similarly expresses his shame and loss of his sense of masculine power.
The village crier beats his gong at night and arranges another meeting in the morning. Okonkwo sleeps very little that night, anticipating war with excitement. He swears vengeance against the white man's court. As he considers the meeting the next day, he decides the greatest obstacle in Umuofia is a speaker named Egonwanne. Okonkwo blames him for persuading the clan to be less aggressive and decides that if the clan listens to Egonwanne tomorrow, he will plan his own revenge.
Okonkwo associates Egonwanne's speeches with feminine tactics of persuasion. He wants to take a more aggressive route and go to war. This reveals part of Okonkwo's difficulty fitting into the clan, however—language is important in communicating at town meetings, and Okonkwo struggles with words.
The marketplace fills as the sun rises, and Obierika and Okonkwo go to the meeting place together. Okonkwo looks for Egonwanne in the crowd and spots him, and prepares to speak against him if Egonwanne advises against war. Okika, one of the six men who had been imprisoned, begins to speak, urging the clan to go to war even though it means fighting their former brothers.
Okika prepares a persuasive speech to stir the clansmen to war. However, the tradition of gathering everyone in the marketplace to speak orally reveals to the white men that something is going on.
The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of five court messengers. Upon seeing them, Okonkwo, filled with hate, springs to his feet and confronts the head messenger. The court messenger says that the white man has ordered the meeting to stop, and in a flash, Okonkwo draws his machete and strikes the man down. Okonkwo senses that the tribe will not go to war. He knows this because he can hear voices from his clan asking: “Why did he do it?” Okonkwo leaves.
It can be argued that Okonkwo's murder of the court messenger is both an act of fate and an act of free will. Even though he chooses to strike down the messenger, his temperament and all the circumstances of his life have led up to this moment, making it almost impossible for him to do anything else. Okonkwo has based his entire existence on being a powerful man devoted to the traditions of his society. He cannot respond to someone else wielding power or refusing to honor those traditions, so he responds in the only way he knows how—with violence. But the tribe recognizes its inferior position to the whites and its members do not want to die—they don't want to fight a war they are destined to lose.