Obi is on trial for corruption. The judge asks how such a young, educated man, with so much promise could possibly have fallen to such lows. Though he had tried to steel himself for this moment, Obi starts to weep when he hears the judge's comment.
Obi comes home from Nigeria, having just earned his college degree. He meets Clara on the boat and begins a relationship with her. He finds a job and begins to pay back his debts to the Umuofia Progressive Union, and fulfils his duty to his parents by giving them a percentage of his monthly salary. He believes that a young educated man with a good job and good prospects for moving up the corporate and governmental ladder has little temptation to accept bribes. He learns that Clara is part of an untouchable class, the osu, but insists that the time has come to set those old traditions aside in favor of more modern ideas about love, marriage, and religion.
Meanwhile, Obi manages his money badly and is surprised when his annual car insurance comes due. He borrows money from the bank to pay it, then borrows money from Clara to pay the bank back. When Clara's money is stolen, Obi is now in debt to both the bank and his fiancée. His family asks him to return home to discuss the rumors they have heard. His father forbids his marriage to Clara, while his mother threatens to commit suicide. Obi breaks up with Clara, only to discover that she's pregnant. Her abortion puts him deeper in debt, threatens Clara's health, and ends their relationship. Obi's mother dies, and he sinks deep into a severe depression. Soon, he is accepting bribes, and earns a reputation for fulfilling his promises when bribed. He is caught accepting a twenty-pound bribe and found guilty at his trial.