Study Guide

No Longer At Ease Chapter 10

By Chinua Achebe

Chapter 10

  • Mr. Green had warned Obi that every year he would have to pay 40 pounds for insurance on his car.
  • Obi forgot his advice until the day arrived when he had to pay those 40 pounds and did not have enough in the bank.
  • Obi tries to call in his debts, starting with Charles, a messenger in the department, who owes Obi thirty shillings. But Charles doesn't have it so Obi goes to the bank manager and asks for an overdraft.
  • Obi goes over his financial situation in his mind. He hasn't lived lavishly, but he has had a lot of expenses.
  • For example, his mother had been in the hospital the month before and he had paid the hospital the bill of 35 pounds.
  • He now wishes he had gotten that grace period from the Union, but the past was the past.
  • Obi reasons that he makes a lot of money, and shouldn't resent the 20 pounds that he had to give each month to repay the Union for his Scholarship.
  • Yet at the same time, what the Union didn't understand was that once it put a man in the civil service, that man had to live according to his career's lifestyle.
  • He had to have a car, but that meant other expenses, like insurance, and maintenance, and paying the driver's salary.
  • So he borrows 50 pounds from the bank, only to return to the office and find another bill, his electricity bill. He feels like crying.
  • He realizes he has other expenses, too. For example, the car needs new tires.
  • And, the narrator tells us, he still doesn't know about the income tax that will be due in six months.
  • After lunch, Obi tells his steward that he needs to start saving money, so he suggests little changes to the way they do things, such as cold baths from now on, less meat in the soup.
  • He fights with Clara that evening, but finally admits that he's stressed about money.
  • She is hurt that he didn't tell her earlier and starts to read. He tells her she's rude. She is even more hurt and continues reading. Finally, he leaves.
  • At home, he looks at Clara's picture and tries to read some poetry. Instead, he found a nostalgic poem he'd written about Nigeria when he was homesick in England. It makes him smile.