No Longer At Ease
by Chinua Achebe
No Longer At Ease Dreams, Hopes, Plans Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Six or seven years ago Umuofians abroad had formed their Union with the aim of collecting money to send some of their brighter young men to study in England. They taxed themselves mercilessly. (1.39)
The hopes and dreams of Umuofians rest on the education of their sons, collectively. Education is the best way to bring honor and money to their home village.
Almost immediately, a cyclist crossed the road without looking back or giving any signal. Obi jammed on his brakes and his tires screamed on the tarmac. Clara let out a little scream and gripped his left arm. The cyclist looked back once and rode away, his ambition written for all to see on his black bicycle bag—FUTURE MINISTER. (2.21)
As they leave the slums, Obi almost hits a man on a bicycle. The cyclist's desire for an ambitious future represents a major theme of No Longer At Ease. According to the novel, we learn that, in Nigeria, anybody can become something if he is able and willing to play the game of bribery and corruption.
"Iguedo breeds great men," said Odogwu, changing the subject…." Today greatness has changed its tune. Titles are no longer great, neither are barns or large numbers o wives and children. Greatness is now in the things of the white man. And so we too have changed our tune. We are the first in all the nine villages to send our son to the white man's land. Greatness has belonged to Iguedo from ancient times. It is not made by man. You cannot plant greatness as you plant yams or maize. Who ever planted an iroko tree –the greatest tree in the forest? You may collect all the iroko seeds in the world, open the soil and put them there. It will be in vain. The great tree chooses where to grow and we find it there, so it is with greatness in men." (5.108)
The men of Umuofia see their destiny in this young man, Obi Okonkwo, who represents the fulfillment of their dreams. Part of Obi's fulfillment of that dream will be to embrace Western culture. In one sense, fulfilling these dreams necessarily means being alienated from his own people, though they do not yet see that.