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)
"The guests then said their farewells to Obi, many of them repeating all the advice that he had already been given. They shook hands with him and as they did so they pressed their presents into his palm, to buy a pencil with, or an exercise book or a loaf of bread for the journey, a shilling there and a penny there – substantial presents in a village where money was so rare, where men and women toiled from year to year to wrest a meager living from an unwilling and exhausted soil. (1.51)
The men and women of Umuofia may suffer from poverty, but they are generous with their gifts when Obi departs for England. These kinsmen are investing in Obi, hoping he will help lift their village out of poverty when he returns with a college education.
It was from one of these soldiers that Obi had his first picture of Lagos.
"There is no darkness there," he told his admiring listeners, "because at night the electric shines like the sun, and people are always walking about, that is, those who want to walk. If you don't want to walk you only have to wave your hand and a pleasure car stops for you." His audience made sounds of wonderment. Then by way of digression he said: "If you see a white man, take off your hat for him. The only thing he cannot do is mold a human being." (2.3-4)
The soldier paints a world of privilege, and highlights things that the rural citizens of Nigeria are lacking. We can see that urban citizens have greater privileges and access to more of the luxuries of modernization than rural citizens; but we also see that whites rule society.
They drove for awhile in silence through narrow overcrowded streets. "I can't understand why you should choose your dressmaker from the slums." Clara did not reply. Instead she started humming "Che sarà sarà."( 2.19)
Early in his career in the civil service, Obi has assumed the values of upper-class society, while Clara still appreciates a bargain. (This will show up later, when it becomes clear that Obi has no clue how to manage his money, while Clara is adept at making her salary go a long way.) There is some irony in the song Clara hums – "Whatever will be will be" – His original name, which we know fromjuxtaposed with Obi's pretensions. Perhaps she already envisions that their relationship will end, since she is osu and Obi is already firmly entrenched in Igbo values.