Compare and contrast the characters of Nnaemeka and Okeke.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The most evident similarity is that both are related to one another.  They are both members of the Ibo tribal community and are father and son.  Realistically, I think that is where their points of similarity end.  The bulk of the story highlights their differences.  Nnaemeka has moved to Lagos and has embraced the cosmopolitan approach of the city.  His relationship with Nene is reflective of this.  He has moved away from the tribal rituals of the Ibo and his choice of Nene as a bride reflects this.  Nnaemeka has embraced a modern construction of marriage and love.  This reflects a general character trait of the son, one that shows him to be flexible and rather open- minded.  He does not want to break his wife's heart or his father's heart.  Yet, he knows what his heart wants and honors that.

Certainly, Okeke does not represent this flexibility.  He is highly traditional, clinging to his ways amongst the Ibo.  He believes in a parent- chosen arranged marriage for his son.  Okeke does not accept Nene, and he does not accept his son's choices.  He rejects them both in a fairly harsh manner.  In cutting out Nene's head from the wedding photograph sent to him and then writing that both son and daughter- in- law do not exist represents how stringent he is in his beliefs.  He is intractable until the end of the story. Okeke embodies the notion of tradition, in stark contrast to his son.

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