Jason Pierce, a thirty-one-year old half-Indian, is busy packing his belongings, preparing to move from the apartment he shared with his girlfriend and return to the reserve where he was raised. His efforts are interrupted by the insistent knocking of a young man at the door, Harry Deiter.
Thirty-four-year old Harry has traveled all the way from Rhode Island to Canada for one purpose: to plead with his half-brother for a kidney. Their father lies hospitalized in critical condition, with no compatible donors available within the immediate family. Jason is his last hope.
Not only is Jason unaware that he has a half-brother; also has bitter memories of a father who abandoned him shortly after his birth, returning to a wife and child in the states, leaving Jasonís mother to raise her child alone. From Jasonís viewpoint, ďAny white American can show up claiming anything.Ē
At first Harry is anxious, but he warms to the rightness of his cause, believing that his younger brother will listen to the irrefutable logic of his proposition. Harry is literally unprepared to accept anything but a positive reaction to his request. Responding to Jasonís reticence, Harry is increasingly frustrated with the younger manís stubbornness.
Jason understandably recoils at the effrontery of Harryís expectations. Although it is Harryís mission to convince him otherwise, after all these years the shock provokes an impassioned response from the Canadian-Indian.
This is a clash of culture and class in which the two men can find little common ground, save a mutual failure in relationships with women. Harry tries in vain to reconcile Jasonís lack of empathy or curiosity about the man Deiter calls father. Why wouldnít a son choose to save his father given the opportunity?
On the other hand, Jasonís life experience has given him an entirely different perspective on the world: days tinged with rage and disappointment; his Indian heritage both a badge of honor and a wound; rejected, along with his mother, by the man who now needs his kidney to survive.
Filled with moral complexity and the emotional exchanges of brothers who do not know each other at all, Jasonís decision is unclear until the final scene. The two brothers continue to argue the merits and obstacles inherent in the decision, unable to breach their impossible contretemps. In the end, each is a product of his environment, one the fatherís dutiful child, the other a fatherless son.