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Americanah

Characters

Ifemelu

Characters Ifemelu

Although the novel switches between Ifemelu’s and Obinze’s perspectives, Ifemelu is the protagonist of Americanah because her self-actualization lies at the narrative’s heart. Ifemelu’s departure for America ignites the major conflict: her separation from Obinze. Despite Ifemelu’s independent spirit, she doesn’t initiate her immigration to America, but agrees to Obinze’s American dream in part because of Obinze’s belief that America is the future. In America, Ifemelu struggles as she’s labeled “black” for the first time in her life, and discovers the racism prevalent, if not overt, in American society. As the novel progresses, Ifemelu becomes more comfortable rejecting American culture and white standards of beauty in favor of her authentic Nigerian self. She drops her American accent and wears her hair in its natural texture because she wants to be her true self. Her blog makes her feel fake because she must strain to understand race in America as an outsider. Therefore, her return to Nigeria is a return to her authentic self, the person she can be effortlessly. At the very end of the novel, while Ifemelu is sad at the possibility of losing Obinze, she is fully prepared to live without him because she has achieved a more complete sense of self by embracing her Nigerian identity.