Nnaemeka is a member of the Ibo tribe. It is traditional only to marry one who is also a member of the tribe. However, he has been living in Lagos and has become engaged to Nenel, who belongs to the Ibibio people. The selection opens with Nenel’s request that Nnaemeka write home and inform his father of their love and their intention to marry. She believes that his father will eventually grant them permission to marry. Nnaemeka is hesitant, as he believes otherwise.
Later that evening, Nnaemeka reads a recent letter from his father, in which he informs him that he has chosen a suitable marriage mate for him, “Ugoye Nweke, the eldest daughter of our neighbor, Jacob Nweke.” His father’s intentions are clear.
On Nnaemekas’ first visit home, he finds a quiet moment and tells his father of his intention to marry Nenel, a teacher in Lagos. His father’s first objection is that she is a teacher and he reminds his son that the scriptures discourage women teachers. Of course, he also objects to the fact that she does not belong to their tribe. However, he does not rage or storm against his son’s declaration; he simply makes his own. He promises his son that he will never see this woman that he intends to marry. He will not visit with her and he will not allow her to visit his home. Of course, his son expects that he will change his mind.
Local people agree with the father’s decision and some even encourage him to seek an “herbalist” who will assist him in changing his son’s mind. He refuses. He does, however, write to his son and reiterate his promise never to greet his wife or make her welcome in the family. He rejects all of his son’s appeals. One day, however, he receives a letter from Nenel, his daughter-in-law, and she pleads for the opportunity to allow her children to see their grandfather, of whom they have heard so much. As Nnaemeka’s father timidly considers the prospect of meeting his grandchildren, it begins to storm and he begins to reconsider his decision.