(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“A Meeting in the Dark” tells the story of John, a young Kenyan man who worries most about what others, especially his father, think of him. John is consumed by a moral dilemma that he eventually fails to face with dignity.

The story begins with John thinking about the stories his mother used to tell him, particularly the story of the young girl who was deceived by an Irimu, an ugly ogre that had disguised itself as a handsome man. Unfortunately, John cannot remember the ending, and his mother no longer tells him stories.

John’s father, Stanley, sees John and questions him about his upcoming trip to college in Uganda. John has been tense the whole time, worrying that his father will realize he has a secret. Overhearing the conversation, John’s mother, Susan, rebukes Stanley for his harsh treatment of their son. Susan married Stanley before he converted to Christianity. Since his conversion, he has refused to let Susan tell John the tribal stories, and he blames Susan for their conceiving John out of wedlock.

John encounters a village woman who asks about his impending trip. She is pleased that John, although more educated in modern ways than most of the villagers, treats her with respect. John is pleased that she approves of him.

After a tense dinner with his parents, John sneaks out to visit his secret girlfriend Wamuhu. Unfortunately, only her parents are home. The mother is happy to see him, for she feels sure John is trustworthy and means to establish a long-term relationship with Wamuhu; the father is afraid that John will fail to respect Wamuhu because she has been circumcised. Female circumcision is traditional for their people, but now the...

(The entire section is 695 words.)