The logical, thoughtful Obierika acts as a foil to the more impulsive Okonkwo. Though sympathetic to Okonkwo over the death of his son, he still strongly disapproves of Okonkwo's part in Ikemefuna's brutal murder. As a man of reason who detests violence, Obierika cannot but condemn the ritualistic slaughter of this young man out of superstition and ignorance. Obierika understands the importance of the old traditions, but at the same time he knows that Okonkwo's role in his son's murder is completely unnecessary, even from the standpoint of tribal custom. Obierika can sense that Okonkwo is simply trying to prove himself once more, to show the other villagers that he's not like his father, that he isn't a weak man, and that he does take his responsibilities to the tribe seriously. In other words, Okonkwo acts selfishly in participating in his son's murder, and he cynically uses obedience to tribal custom as an excuse.