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No Longer At Ease

Chinua Achebe

Chapters 15 and 16

Chapters 13 and 14

Chapters 17–19

Summary

Chapter 15

Obi begins his return to Lagos, but on the way back he gets into a car crash, swerving off of the road and colliding into a bush. Nothing, luckily, had happened to him, and he continues on his journey after several passengers on a lorry, who saw the crash, stop to see how he is.

Obi goes straight to Clara's house and tries to make the situation sound better than it is. He tells Clara what had happened at home, but he says, with false optimism, that it is only his mother's recent illness that has maddened her and that his father has practically turned over to their side. Clara does not believe him and tells him that she knew it would not work. The engagement is finally broken off, and Clara implies that she is pregnant.

Obi tells Christopher what has transpired, and Christopher says that he, himself, would never marry an osu. He also gives him a connection to a doctor where they may be able to get an abortion. Clara and Obi go to a doctor who says he cannot perform an abortion, and it is not until they reach a second doctor who says that he will perform the abortion (only for cash) that they are able to arrange everything. They are to arrive the next morning at the doctor's office with thirty pounds in cash.

Chapter 16

Obis is faced with the problem of where to get, first the thirty pounds for the abortion, and then the other fifty to repay Clara. He knows he cannot ask Christopher or the UPU and decides that he will ask Sam Okoli for it. Realizing, that he did not ask Christopher to keep a secret what he had told him about Clara, Obi calls him and asks Christopher not to say anything about what he has told him.

The next morning Obi drops Clara off at the doctor's. Obi has terrible thoughts and feels as though he is never going to see Clara again. The doctor tells him to come back at five o'clock and then drives away with Clara in his car. Obi drives around in torment until five o'clock at which time the doctor has not arrived with Clara. He asks the doctor's assistant where they may be, and she has no idea. After waiting an hour and a half, the doctor arrives and tells Obi he must come back tomorrow because Clara is under observation for complications suffered because of the abortion. Obi wants to see her but is told he cannot and that he must come back in the morning.

Obi goes home and reads more A.E. Housman. He finds the poem he had written long ago about Nigeria, while he was in London except that this time he does not smile at the sight of it, he crumples it and throws it to the ground.

The next morning Obi goes to the doctor's who tells Obi the name of the hospital Clara is at, and to where Obi goes directly. Once there, however, the nurse tells Obi that Clara is very sick and that visitors are not allowed.

Analysis

It is apparent that Obi has begun to lose his faith if he has not lost it already within these two chapters. All of his troubles have piled atop him. He has lost Clara and has to find a way to pay for the abortion and to repay her fifty pounds. And later still, Obi is confronted with the worry he must face because of Clara's complications as a result of the abortion. But this is not until later, for his troubles begin to pile up even before he reaches Lagos. His mother's illness and her ultimatum have put him in a terrible state. In fact, the state is so bad that Obi cannot even concentrate on driving and crashes into a bush. He does not seem incredibly moved by the crash and is beginning to seem almost numb to his situation. When he is told that he is lucky to be alive, he does not seem to feel so.

His pleas to Clara and his explanations are without heart this time, and even she is able to recognize it because she breaks off the engagement completely this time, seeing that there is no real conviction left in his heart. He does not know what to do with himself and falls into pessimistic English poetry. The ultimate symbol of his fall, however, comes when he crumbles up the poem about joy and unity he had written in London, years ago. He throws away this poem named Nigeria as if he is throwing away the idealism with which he wrote it; Obi is beginning to fall into what will eventually lead him straight into bribery.

It is also important to mention Christopher when discussing these two chapters, because he plays an important role. He is the first person Obi turns to when he is faced with the problems of his break-up with Clara and Clara's pregnancy. It is interesting that in the second half of the novel it is Christopher and not Joseph who predominates. The reason for this is because Obi is becoming more and more estranged from his family and his traditions as the novel progresses, and he believes that Christopher will understand him better, given that they received similar educations. However, Christopher disappoints Obi in this section by saying that he, himself, would never think of marrying an osu. Christopher says: "You may say that I am not broad-minded, but I don't think we have reached the stage where we can ignore all our customs." While in the same kind of position, Obi and Christopher have made different decisions regarding their status as in-betweens. Obi, therefore, is continuously meeting opposition, even from a friend who is supposed to understand him. This opposition is also clear when both doctors to whom Clara and Obi go ask them why they are not going to get married? Not only was he going to marry an osu, but now Clara is having an abortion which is also against his roots and traditions.

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