Compare and contrast the characters of Nnaemeka and Okeke.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some comparisons exist between the father, Okeke, and son, Nnaemeka. Both consider themselves Christian. This discussion arises when Okeke has found a good Christian woman for his son. However, Nnaemeka has already found his own Christian woman who is a school teacher from the town of Lagos. Okeke is outraged that his son would marry for love rather than follow his father's wishes even though they both profess they are Christian.

The similarity between the two stop at the above. Their differences are the cause of the conflict in the story. Nnaemeka marries for love, and he is considered an outcast by his stubborn father. Keep in mind that a generation gap exists between the father and son. So, "For eight years, Okeke would have nothing to do with his son." Nnaemeka tries to gain his father's acceptance, writing letters and sending pictures in an attempt to communicate. His character forgives his father for his unwillingness to accept his wife. However, at the end of the story, Okeke finds it in his heart to accept his son's family upon learning of his grandchildren. Okeke is remorseful and opens his heart after all.