The main conflict is between a son and his dying father. Will, the son, and Ed, the father, haven't been able to reach a connection and their relationship is now strained. Ed, is now sick and dying. Will must reconcile with his father or risk his father dying with no resolution. The heart of the conflict between the two has to do with Ed's outlandish tales about the events of his life. Will feels as though he never really knows his father because all of Ed's stories have a fable-like quality to them. He wishes his father would just talk to him, rather than using these stories to make his points.
Will becomes frustrated during his final visit with his father and looks at him, begging: "Who are you?" Again, Ed uses his outlandish tales to explain his life to his son. Will's frustration gains ground until his father's dying day. He rushes his father to the hospital, and uses a final story to ease his father from this world. The story is the final in Ed's book of fables: how he goes.
Understanding about who his father really is doesn't come to Will until the day of his father's funeral. On this day all of the "characters" from Ed's tales are present and accounted for. His father may have embelished these people and events, but all along he was trying to show himself to his son.