No Longer At Ease
by Chinua Achebe
No Longer At Ease Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"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." (2.31)
The corruption in Nigeria can partly be explained by the fact that Igbo society is built on a system of homage and patronage. These values seem to have been carried over into the Western system.
He spoke of the great honor Obi had brought to the ancient town of Umuofia, which could not join the comity of other towns in their march towards political irredentism, social equality, and economic emancipation.
"The importance of having one of our sons in the vanguard of this march of progress is nothing short of axiomatic." (4.15-16)
The town of Umuofia clearly pins its hopes for economic power and social status in the education of its young men; the example of Obi Okonkwo is a case in point. What is interesting is that it seems like a version of socialism helps individuals advance within the larger capitalist society; in order for everyone to rise in the social class, they must invest in individuals.
Why did Clara insist that he must not tell his people about her yet? Could it be that she had not quite made up her mind to marry him? That could hardly be. She was as anxious as himself to be formally engaged, only she said he should not go to the expense of buying a ring until he had got a job. Perhaps she wanted to tell her people first. But if so, why all the mystery? Why had she not simply said that she was going to consult her people? Or maybe she was not as guileless as he had assumed and was using this suspense to bind him more strongly to her. Obi examined each possibility in turn and rejected it. (5.46)
In his first realization that there is something Clara hasn't told him, Obi begins to get suspicious; he just can't believe that his beloved would be deceitful.