In Chapter Five of Things Fall Apart, the Feast of the New Yam, held every year before the harvest begins in order to pay homage to the earth goddess and the ancestral spirits of the clan, is a time of great joy and celebration. The old yams are prepared and relatives of Okonkwo's wives are invited by him, although Oknokwo realizes he will tire of them.
Okonkwo has a fatal flaw of not being able to restrain his anger that often transforms into violence. This irascible behavior of Okonkwo has been distancing him from the rest of the village. Nevertheless, he does not seem able to control himself because he believes that displaying affection and kindness denote weakness. This is why, too, he treats Ikemefuna, for whom he actually feels much affection, cruelly at times.
As the women prepare for the feast, Okonkwo looks out and thinks that one of his banana trees has been killed. Enraged, he learns that his second wife Ekwefi has simply cut leaves from it in order to wrap the food for the Yam festival.
Without further argument Okonkwo gave her a sound beating and left her and her only daughter weeping. Neither of the other wives dared to interfere beyond an occasional and tentative, "It is enough, Okonkwo," pleaded from a reasonable distance.
This gratuitous violence of punishing his wife for killing a tree that is in no danger is a tragic flaw in Okonkwo's nature that sets him apart from others in the village. Mistakenly, Okonkwo's obstinacy and cruelty, and his irrational behavior set him apart from the rest of the village and have begun to alienate him from others in the tribe.