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No Longer At Ease

Chinua Achebe

Chapters 17–19

Chapters 15 and 16

Chapters 17–19, page 2

page 1 of 2

Chapter 17

Obi returns to work and has to listen to Mr. Green complain about Nigerians who take breaks, implying laziness. He argues, as usual, for a little while with Marie, and then later in the morning he goes to the hospital to see Clara. He is allowed to see her but as soon as he enters the hospital room she turns her head toward the wall. He becomes embarrassed and leaves.

Obi decides that he will stop paying his loan to the town union because it has been what he calls "the root cause of all his troubles." He chides himself for having been too proud to accept the extension. Nevertheless, he says he will stop paying it until he can begin to do so again. He will have to repay the money he borrowed for the abortion and the money he borrowed from Clara first. He is not going to tell the Union unless they ask why he is not paying, at which time he will respond that he has had "family commitments."

Obi receives the unopened envelope for the letter he had sent Clara the night before. He had written a letter and dropped it off in the hospital, but Clara had not even opened it, she has simply returned it to sender. The letter simply says that he cannot believe it is over between them, and he asks for another chance.

Chapter 18

Clara is discharged from the hospital after five weeks, but Obi has been advised against seeing her. He receives a parcel from the Commission of Income Tax to whom he must pay his taxes, and to top everything off, Obi's mother dies. Although Obi is desperately saddened by his mother's death, he does not return to Umuofia for the funeral. Those in his Union spoke badly of the fact that he did not return home for the funeral and that he did not send enough money. They also say that he is just like his father who also did not go to his own father's funeral.

The Union holds a funeral gathering at Obi's house in Lagos, but Obi overhears a story implying that the Umuofians were critical of Obi's behavior. Obi goes through a period of mental torment only to arise out of it with a strange sense of calm: "The peace that passeth all understanding."

Chapter 19

Obi's guilt ends, and he feels like a new man. He no longer holds the image in his mind of his mother returning from the wash bleeding because of his razorblade. Obi now saw his mother, or remembered her rather, as a "woman who got things done."

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