Study Guide

No Longer At Ease Chapter 19

By Chinua Achebe

Chapter 19

  • Obi feels a sense of renewed vitality, a sense of rebirth, after the guilt over his mother's death is gone.
  • He starts to remember his mother as a woman who got things done, as the woman who ruled the household (rather than Obi's father).
  • His favorite story to remember is the one where the priest of Udo's goat wanders into his mother's kitchen and his mother, angry at how often the goat had wandered into their yard and disturbed Isaac's shrine, sawed off its head.
  • Though the village was angry with her, eventually they calmed down. Why? Because she was a Christian, part of the white man's religion, and its god had clearly trumped the village's god.
  • It's now the time again to choose who would be the recipient of the scholarship. One day, a businessman comes to visit Obi at home. He tells Obi that his son is going to England in September and needs the scholarship. He offers Obi 50 pounds.
  • Obi told him now, that all he does is make recommendations to the Board – he doesn't choose the recipient.
  • That's OK, the man says. That's perfect.
  • Obi knows the man's son is already on the short list. He'll already appear before the board. He asks the man why he doesn't pay for his son; the scholarship should go to those who are less fortunate. The man laughs and says there is never enough money in the world.
  • He drops the 50 pounds on the table.
  • When he goes, Obi covers the money with his newspaper. He is ashamed. He has trouble sleeping that night.
  • He takes one of the scholarship applicants dancing. Then he takes her to bed.
  • She is also on the short list. But she seems to know what to do.
  • There were others, more bribes. But he does have a code of ethics; he won't take bribes from those who don't meet the minimum qualifications.
  • With all the help from the bribes, Obi is able to pay off his debts.
  • One day, a man leaves 20 pounds and Obi thinks, Enough is enough.
  • But it's too late. A knock on the door. It's the police.
  • We have now come full circle, back to the beginning.
  • Everybody wonders why Obi did it, and how he became corrupt. The judge, the British Council men, the men who belonged to the Umuofia Progressive Union – none of them knows why. Even Mr. Green really had no idea.