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Americanah

Characters

Dike

Characters Dike

Dike demonstrates the importance of embracing one’s history. Dike grows up without roots because his mother, Aunty Uju, refuses to tell him the truth about his father and cuts him off from a Nigerian identity. This rootlessness leads to confusion because of the identities other people project onto him. Because of the negative associations of blackness in America, Aunty Uju constantly tells Dike that he is not black, but because white Americans hold the same racist stereotypes for everyone with black skin, Dike still must carry the baggage. Later, he uses African-American Vernacular English in order to conform to others’ expectations of what it means to be black. Ifemelu blames this confusion for his suicide attempt, that Aunty Uju has told Dike who he is not, but not who he is. Dike’s visit to Nigeria, therefore, offers him a chance to heal. After Ifemelu shows him the house he spent his infancy in, he asks if he can drive them home. Here, Dike takes the wheel and implies that he has control over his identity again. Other people can no longer determine his identity for him because he now understands where he came from.