In examining the characterization of Okeke, discuss how the persona of the father stands defeated in the persona of the grandfather.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting question.  Okeke as a father is filled with defiance.  He believes that he needs to be assertive in his own construction of identity in dictating the terms of his son's marriage.  He is dismayed when his son breaks tradition and marries Nene.  To this end, the father sends wrath- filled letters and absolutely intense messages that he is unwilling to compromise and move towards any sense of reconciliation.  This is offset by the vision of Okeke as a potential grandfather.  When he receives the letter from Nene about the visit of the son and the grandsons, a new sense of identity dawns over Okeke, which sees him set aside his vision as a father and embrace this new persona as a grandfather:

Okeke was trying hard not to think of his two grandsons. But he knew he was now fighting a losing battle. He tried to hum a favorite hymn but the pattering of large raindrops on the roof broke up the tune. His mind immediately returned to the children. How could he shut his door against them? By a curious mental process he imagined them standing, sad and forsaken, under the harsh angry weather—shut out from his house.

The persona as a grandfather is able to stand victorious over that of the father.  The persona of the father stands defeated because of the reality of potentially forsaking his grandchildren.  The reality of his actions, ones in which he would deny his grandchildren in the "harsh angry weather" compels the grandfather Okeke to assert itself over the former father persona.  At the learning of grandchildren, a continuation of his name and the establishment of a new identity, time has taken on new form and in this, there is a greater sense of understanding about reconciling and seeking to build new bridges as a grandfather as opposed to burning them down as a father.  It is here and within this reality that the persona of the father stands defeated in the persona of the grandfather.