Okonkwo serves as an instrument of suffering to various sets of people: his family, his tribal members, himself. He is an instrument of suffering to his family by his domestic tyranny and violence. He is such an instrument to his tribe because of his fearful though domineering pride that causes him to act impetuously and dangerously, for example, when he was punished by exile. He acts as an instrument of suffering to himself when he rebels against the British influence and control thinking his people will support him when, in fact, they disagree with, which is what leads to his self-inflicted punishment.
“It is an abomination for a man to take his own life. It is an offense against the Earth, and a man who commits it will not be buried by his clansmen. His body is evil, and only strangers may touch it."