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No Longer At Ease

No Longer At Ease

by Chinua Achebe

Lies and Deceit Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"I cannot understand why he [Obi] did it," said the British Council man thoughtfully….

"I can," said Mr. Green simply. "What I can't understand is why people like you refuse to face facts." Mr. Green was famous for speaking his mind. He wiped his red face with the white towel on his neck. "The African is corrupt through and through.…The fact that over countless centuries the African has been the victim of the worst climate in the world and of every imaginable disease. Hardly his fault. But he has been sapped mentally and physically. We have brought him Western education. But what use is it to him?" (1.12-13;16)

Mr. Green attributes the physical environment as the evolutionary catalyst for corruption in Africa – a blanket generalization, to say the least. He further generalizes and attributes the characteristic to all Africans, regardless of education. See Mr. Green's "Character Analysis" for more on his role in No Longer At Ease.

Quote #2

"It is all lack of experience," said another man. "He should not have accepted the money himself. What others do is tell you to go and hand it to their houseboy. Obi tried to do what everyone does without finding out how it as done." He told the proverb of the house rat who went swimming with his friend the lizard and died from cold, for while the lizard's scales kept him dry the rat's hairy body remained wet. (1.36)

The men at the Umuofia Progressive Union weren't concerned so much with the fact that Obi accepted bribes. Rather, they take issue with the fact that he accepted bribes without covering up his tracks. Because of such reckless behavior, it is inevitable that he would get caught.

Quote #3

"But take one of these old men. He probably left school thirty years ago in Standard Six. He has worked steadily to the top through bribery—an ordeal by bribery. To him the bribe is natural. He gave it and he expects it. Our people say that if you pay homage to the man on top, others will pay homage to you when it is your turn to be on top. Well, that is what the old men say."

"What do the young men say, if I may ask?"

"To most of them bribery is no problem. They come straight to eh top without bribing anyone. It's not that they're necessarily better than others, it's simply that they can afford to be virtuous. But even that kind of virtue can become a habit." (2.31-33)

According to this passage, lies and deceit belong to uneducated men who lack opportunities. Virtue is a by-product of education, and ultimately, it creates an incorruptible soul.

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