In this section, Achebe presents the dilemma of the male and female attributes of Okonkwo's present circumstances. Okonkwo starts his exile profoundly demoralized and unmotivated. While making progress toward much more prominent manliness, he orchestrated a female murder — that is, he unintentionally killed a child during the burial ceremony. Compounding the situation (in his psyche), he has been exiled from his clan to a woman's side of his family.
Okonkwo finds this to be an immense challenge to his manliness. His uncle reminds him, however, within the presence of his own family, that Okonkwo should utilize the nurturing (womanly) nature of his homeland, acknowledge his circumstance (which is, in fact, far less devastating than it could be), and recuperate. Okonkwo needs to keep up a positive, responsible leadership (counting male and female characteristics) of his own family in readiness for their inevitable return to Umuofia. The womanly part of his mother's clan is not to be disregarded while Okonkwo bids his time, waiting for the appropriate time to return to his manly village.
Earlier, Okonkwo recognized the crucial role of chi in his life. In this chapter, he appears to understand that his chi "was not made for great things" — a confirmation that he may not accomplish all that he needs since his destiny is predestined. This perception, however, does not last.