No Longer At Ease
by Chinua Achebe
Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : Tragedy
Obi and Clara fall in love and Obi obtains a lucrative position with the Scholarship Board.
Obi dreams of marrying Clara. He's got a good job with the civil service and now he wants to settle down and have a family. His future is bright, and he can't wait to tell his family. He wonders why Clara isn't so eager for him to reveal her identity to his family, but he brushes it aside. He has conversations with his friends, in which he explains that there is very little temptation to be corrupt when one has a good education and has a good job prospect.
Obi and Clara get engaged.
Obi soon discovers why Clara was reluctant to reveal their love: she's osu and it is forbidden for Obi to marry her. If he does, he'll bring shame on his family and his future children. But he doesn't care and proposes anyway. They go to buy a ring. Obi explains to his friend Joseph that he believes this is an outdated tradition that should be abolished. He will be a pioneer. Joseph cautions him, saying he thinks the time for pioneers in this matter has not yet arrived.
Mr. Mark and Elsie Mark try to offer Obi a bribe, while his finances spin out of control.
Obi soon discovers that he doesn't have a firm handle on his finances. Though he rejects the first offer of a bribe when Mr. Mark approaches him, and then again when Elise Mark offers to sleep with him, he is beginning to feel out of control financially. He borrows money from the bank to pay one bill, and accepts money from Clara to pay it back. Clara's money is stolen from his car. He receives a letter from his father, indicating that he needs to travel home as there is something important they must discuss. Obi knows they've heard news about Clara, and realizes the moment has come when he must convince them to accept her as his wife.
Obi's family opposes his engagement and Clara has an abortion.
At home, Obi discovers that his family is unshakeable in their opposition to his marriage with Clara. His father states that Obi cannot do this, because it will bring shame on his children and his grandchildren. His mother says she would rather kill herself than see him married to an osu. He tries to present it in a positive light to Clara, but she knows the truth and breaks off their engagement. There is the problem of her pregnancy, however. Obi arranges for an abortion. Clara suffers an infection from the abortion procedure, and is ill in the hospital for weeks. Meanwhile, Obi discovers yet more bills that he didn't realize he would need to pay.
Destruction or Death Wish Stage
Obi's mother dies and Obi begins to accept bribes.
The last straw appears to be Obi's mother's death. Obi grieves her death but then, strangely, feels a sense of peace. After that, he begins to live the fast life. He thinks it's terrible the first time he inadvertently accepts a bribe, but then he stops feeling guilty. Soon he's caught, and found guilty in a trial where everyone wonders where he went wrong.