Okeke's feelings are complex upon hearing that his grandsons' wish to meet their grandfather. Part of the complexity in emotions comes from the wording of Nene's letter:
. . Our two sons, from the day they learnt that they have a grandfather, have insisted on being taken to him. I find it impossible to tell them that you will not see them. I implore you to allow Nnaemeka to bring them home for a short time during his leave next month. I shall remain here in Lagos . . .
The children's nature of insistence triggers a reversal of "the resolution he had built up over so many years." Achebe describes this experience at such stubbornness "falling in." Additionally, when Nene says that she "finds it impossible" to tell the children of his decision, the emotional experience of shame is triggered. Achebe describes this as Okeke "trying hard not to think of his two grandsons."
His emotional experience of reversal as reflective of "fighting a losing battle" indicates how intense such emotions are for the old man. When he rhetorically asks how "he could shut his door against them," it helps to bring out the level of guilt and shame that the old man experiences. It is for this reason that Achebe describes Okeke as not sleeping that night, "from remorse" and the "vague fear that he might die without making it up to them." With this ending, Okeke's complex and sad emotional condition is illuminated.