Study Guide

No Longer At Ease Chapter 13

By Chinua Achebe

Chapter 13

  • Obi takes two weeks' local leave to visit home.
  • The night before he goes, Clara starts to cry when they are in bed. Obi asks what's the matter, and Clara says that it would be better if they broke off the engagement.
  • Obi is hurt but he simply thanks her for everything. He paces the room, but then realizes that if he had seen another person behave that way, he would have accused them of being too dramatic. So he goes back to bed and finally, Clara convinces him to talk about it.
  • She says there are two reasons they should not marry. The first is his family. But then she doesn't remember the second reason.
  • Obi says he knows the second reason: it's because she doesn't want to marry somebody who manages his finances so badly that he has to borrow money to pay for his insurance. When she starts to cry, he pulls her towards him and kisses her passionately.
  • She tells him he must first apologize for what he said. He apologizes and she says she forgives him.
  • Clara then realizes what has just happened – Obi has tricked her so they are no longer broken up.
  • Obi sets out the next morning, bright and early.
  • He decides to only spend one week at home, because of money. All the people in his village will expect him to share in his good fortune, and he simply can't afford it.
  • Although he was given 24 pounds for his vacation, plus he has some left form his January salary, he knows he needs to pay for John's school fees while he has the money. Those cost 16 pounds, ten shillings.
  • Obi's mother, Hannah, had just recently returned from the hospital. She's in her room.
  • The narrator takes a moment to describe the difference between Hannah's room and Isaac's room.
  • Due to his respect for the white man's culture and symbols, Isaac's room is full of the written word: books, papers, Scripture Union Cards. Hannah's room is full of clothes, pots of palm oil to make soap, last year's coco yams, kola nuts, and palm-ash.
  • Obi starts to cry when he sees his mother in her bed. But she tells him that now she is healthy, compared to when she was ill.
  • Later, some young women in the village who were passing by heard that Obi had returned, so they came inside and sang for him. This offended Isaac because it was heathen music, but Hannah liked it.