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No Longer At Ease

Chinua Achebe

Chapter 7

Chapter 6

Chapter 7, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

It is Obi's first day at the civil service. The day reminds him of his first day at the mission school in Umuofia when a white school inspector came into the school and slapped his headmaster. His headmaster had fought back, and there had been chaos throughout the school. Obi's new boss, Mr. Green, reminds him of the white school inspector. Mr. Green would never dream of doing such a thing because times have changed, claims Obi, but Mr. Green is not altogether dissimilar to that earlier white man.

Mr. Green is arrogant and patronizing. He tells Obi all on this first day to use his brain, if he has one and that he will do fine in his job if he is not. Obi spends his first day learning the administrative side of things with Mr. Omo, the administrative assistant, whom Obi calls an "old African." Mr. Omo calls Green "sir" (which Green later asks Obi to do as well), and he shutters and stumbles under the loud demands of his boss.

After a week of working at the office, Obi buys a car and is given a sixty-pound "outfit allowance," which pleases both him and Clara. Clara has also secured a job as an assistant nurse, and Obi will soon be moving into a senior service flat in Ikoyi.

The same day Obi buys his car, Clara and Obi are expected at the Minister of State, the Honorable Sam Okoli's home for drinks. Okoli no longer threatens Obi because Okoli is not interested in Clara, he is merely her friend. In fact, Okoli is marrying Clara's best friend. Okoli has a nice home, one of the "minister's homes" built by the government for 35,000 dollars. This is the first time Obi and Sam are formally introduced. Over drinks, the three of them talk about the Minster's radiogram and about the "white man," saying that he has done some good things for Nigeria, but that now he must go. This is an opinion that Okoli verbalizes twice.

In the car, after drinks and on the way to dinner, Clara and Obi are alone. Clara is upset but will not tell Obi why. Clara says she is not hungry, but they have dinner anyway, neither talking, nor eating very much. It is at this point that Clara tells Obi that she cannot marry him because she is an osu—an outcast. Obi thinks this is ridiculous and that they shall marry anyway. Clara is very upset and crying.

When Obi comes home that night, he tells Joseph of what Clara has told him. Joseph is appalled and worried at Obi's obstinacy. Obi says he will marry Clara anyway and that no one, not even his mother, with whom he has a very special relationship, can stop him. The next day Clara and Obi buy an engagement ring and spend the day shopping together. Joseph tells Obi that no one will agree with this marriage, but Obi is positive that if he can only convince his mother, then things will be all right.

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