The Joys of Motherhood
How we cite our quotes:
"What do you want me to do?" Amatokwu asked. "I am a busy man. I have no time to waste my precious male seed on a woman who is infertile. I have to raise children for my line."....
"I will do my duty by you. I will come to your hut when my wife starts nursing her child. But now, if you can't produce sons, at least you can help harvest yams." (3.45;47)
It is Amatokwu's duty to produce heirs, and it is Nnu Ego's duty, as a wife, to provide the means by which heirs are produced. Because she is failing in her duty, Amatokwu is unwilling to waste any of his time on her. He will do his duty, but only when he has abundance of time.
"Pity your ideal Amatokwu almost beat you to death because you did not bear him a son. Look at yourself—you look pregnant to me, and you were not like that when you came here. What else does a woman want? I've given you a home and, if all goes well, the child you and your father have been wanting, and you still sit there staring at me with hatred in your eyes. The day you mention Amatokwu's name in this house again I shall give you the greatest beating you have ever had. You spoilt, selfish woman! You who put Amatokwu's manhood in question so that he had to marry again quickly and have many children in quick succession. Now you come here, where I did not particularly press you to be pregnant in the first month, and you talk this foolishness." (4.53)
Just like women have a duty to bear men sons, men have a duty to give their wives children, otherwise their manhood is in question as well.
Nnu Ego laughed with them, and she knew then that, had they lived in times gone by when families used to stay together, several generations living and dying on the same portion of land, Okpo's children would never suffer. For she saw the look of childish love that went from her son to this young girl his father had married. If it had been that time, If Nnaife should die, Okpo would never need to go back to her people, because on a day like this, she had given the boy Adim the spontaneous reaction which he needed and which said: "Well done. We know you will do your duty by us when you grow up." (16.71)
Okpo shows Adim his duty in the traditional culture. Nnu Ego is glad that he is learning the lesson, even while she sees that they no longer live within a traditional culture.