The Dilemma of a Ghost: Summary and Analysis

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A Short Summary

The “Dilemma of a Ghost” by Ama Ata Aidoo is a drama about a young Ghanaian graduate (Ato) whose arrival with his fiancée (Eulalie) in Africa causes problems that would later put him in a dilemma.

The constant confusion between Ato’s family and Eulalie is a result of cultural differences and societal expectations of how a wife should behave.

This is the shortest possible summary I could give on the play. However, if you want a more detailed summary, continue with the article.

The drama starts with a prelude followed by 5 ACTS thus, ACT 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Characters in the Dilemma of a Ghost

Ato: A Ghanaian graduate and the main character.

Eulalie: African American Woman (Ato’s fiancée)

Esi Kom: Mother of Ato

Monka: Ato’s sister

Nana: Ato’s grandmother

Akyere: Ato’s elder aunt

Mansah: Ato’s younger aunt

Petu: Ato’s elder uncle

Akroma: Ato’s younger uncle

1st woman and 2nd woman: Ato’s neighbours

Boy and Girl: Two children in Ato’s dream.

Summary of Prelude

The prelude begins with a poem that seems to arouse our interest in what the reader is about to experience.

Next, In a dialogue, Ato (a young Ghanaian graduate) and his fiancée Eulalie (an Afro-American graduate) have a lovely discussion with each other.

They seem to be in love and are planning to move to Africa to live there. Eulalie cannot wait to meet Ato’s people and have the African experience.

Her only concern is with her plan to postpone childbirth until she’s ready but Ato assures her it wouldn’t be a problem.

Summary of Act (1)

Two neighbours in Ato’s village, 1st woman and 2nd woman discuss the topic of childbirth while returning from the river.

They later change the topic to talk about the arrival of Ato from abroad and other matters relating to Ato’s family.

As usual, Ato meets with the whole family after his arrival to discuss family matters, but issues get out of hand.

When Ato announced that he was married to a woman from another land, all the family members were surprised and displeased with the news. Nana particularly was unhappy about Ato’s choice of life partner.

Summary of Act (2)

Act two begins with 1st woman and the second woman debating on the topic of childbearing, where 1st woman laments her inability to give birth.

Later, Esi Kom, Monka and Ato became the topic of discussion. They commented on Monka’s (Ato’s sister) inability to get a good husband.

Their next discussion was on Ato’s refusal to marry a native but rather a stranger.

Moving on, Ato and Eulalie are having a good time in Africa as they have a chat about outdated cultural practices such as witch-hunting.

Near the end of Act 2, Eulalie brings up the topic of childbirth again but Ato brushes it off and says they should stick to their original plan of postponing childbirth.

Summary of Act (3)

{Ato and Eulalie comes to spend a weekend in the village}

In the Ato has a strange dream while having a siesta. In his dream, he saw a Boy and a Girl singing a song about a ghost.

Next, Petu ( Ato’s Elder Uncle) comes to visit Ato where they talk about Ato’s dream. Esi Kom and Monka were the next to visit Ato.

Things go very wrong when Eulalie throws away the snails Esi Kom brought for Ato, describing the snails as horrible creatures. This creates an unpleasant tension between Ato, Eulalie and Esi Kom.

Esi Kom complains bitterly about how unfairly she was treated when she visited Ato in Accra.

Summary of Act 4

{Another 6months later, Ato and Eulalie visits the village once again}

It starts again with 1st woman and 2nd woman discussing about the sprinkling of stools in the village.

Again, they switch topics to Ato’s family matters. They hint that even though Ato is back from abroad Esi, her Mom still lives a poor life.

They are concerned that Eulalie uses modern equipments which they refer to as “machines” to do all her house chores.

They even suspect that Eulalie might be barren.

1st woman comments, “If it is real barrenness, then, oh stranger-girl, whom I do not know, I weep for you.”

Later, the family visits Ato to ask him why his wife has not given birth. They even suggest bathing Eulalie stomach with a medicine to help her give birth.

However, they left the place very upset because Ato insisted there was nothing wrong with his wife. Eulalie was frustrated because Ato refused to tell his family about the real reason why they hadn’t started a family.

Summary of Act 5

The following morning, Ato and Eulalie are supposed to go to a thanksgiving service but Eulalie refuses to go.

Ato is not pleased that Eulalie is drunk on a Sunday morning but Eulalie shows no concern.

Eulalie in her drunken state insults Ato’s people calling them bastards and savages who lack understanding. Ato gets angry and slaps Eulalie on the cheeks.

Eulalie leaves the house and is nowhere to be found. Ato goes all around searching for her.

Ato in his search finds himself knocking on his mother’s door. Ato explains to his mother that Eulalie is gone.

He also reveals that, Eulalie is not barren and that they had planned to postpone childbirth until they were ready.

Esi Kom upon learning this secret blames Ato for all the confusion and misunderstanding they had with Eulalie. She then had empathy and understood Eulalie better.

Fortunately, Eulalie made her appearance In the middle of the conversation. Esi Kom upon seeing how miserable she was, took her inside the house.

Ato was then confused as to where he went wrong. In the end, he was in a dilemma because he didn’t know what to do. Should he follow them or should he go to his room?

End of the Drama

Credit to: {John. A. Sackey and Lawrence Darmani}

Thanks for reading to the end. I would love to hear your thoughts on the play.


George is interested in self-education, knowledge building and self expression through writing!

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Obeng Bismark

    thanks for the summary. it is as if I have read all the art. why can’t I find this style in other literature writing.

    1. George

      @Obeng, Nowadays, it’s rare to see platforms genuinely interested in literature. That is why I created this blog in the first place. To find like-minded people. Thanks for the visit!

  2. Anonymous

    It helped me got the understanding better