No Longer At Ease
How we cite our quotes:
The chief result of the crisis in Obi's life was that it made him examine critically for the first time the mainspring of his actions. And in doing so he uncovered a good deal that he could only regard as sheer humbug. Take this matter of twenty pounds each month to his town union, which in the final analysis was the root cause of all his troubles. Why had he not swallowed his pride and accepted the four months' exemption which he had been allowed, albeit with a bad grace? Could a person in his position afford that kind of pride? Was it not a common saying among his people that a man should not, out of pride and etiquette, swallow his phlegm? (17.29)
Obi's pride has led him to take on too much responsibility. He is unwilling to accept others' help, no matter if the help is graciously or ungraciously offered. This has left him isolated and alone when he faces true crisis.
Everybody was most kind. Mr. Green said he could take a week's leave if he wished. Obi took two days He went straight home and locked himself up in his flat. What was the point in going to Umuofia? She would have been buried by the time he got there, anyway. The thought of going home and not finding her! In the privacy of his bedroom he let tears run down his face like a child. (18.21)
Although Obi could go home and share his family's sorrow, he chooses to remain in Lagos. His mother has been a moral compass in his life, his one link to traditional culture, and now he is desolate without her.
Before very long a number of Umuofia people began to arrive. Some came in taxis, not singly like Joseph but in teams of three or four, sharing the fare among them. Others came on bicycles. Altogether there were over twenty-five.
The president of the Umuofia Progressive Union asked whether it was permissible to sing hymns in Ikoyi. He asked because Ikoyi was a European reservation. Obi said he would rather they did not sing, but he was touched most deeply that so many of his people had come, in spite of everything, to condole with him. (18.30-331)
Obi is not so alone in his grief, after all. Despite his shabby treatment of his friends in Lagos, they join him in his sorrow over his mother's death.