Kosi insists he attend their friend’s christening party the next day, laying out matching blue outfits for the whole family. Obinze feels like a coward for playing along with the charade. Bored and annoyed by the party, he confides in his friend that he wants to divorce Kosi and marry Ifemelu. His friend chastises him that getting divorced is white person behavior.

Summary: Chapter 55

Ifemelu watches as the male peacock that lives near her flat performs his mating dance. The female rejects him, and he looks ridiculous. Ifemelu wants to tell Obinze about it. She mourns losing Obinze. She doesn’t doubt his love but believes his sense of duty keeps him from following his heart. Ranyinudo encourages her to date, but instead, Ifemelu throws herself into her blog.

Obinze appears at the door of Ifemelu’s flat. He has written her a letter explaining that he does not want their separation to shadow their lives. He will divorce Kosi but continue to help raise Buchi. He echoes the words he said at Kayode’s party all those years ago: “I’m chasing you.” Ifemelu invites him in.

Analysis: Chapters 52–55

Ifemelu’s praise of the plantain seller reflects her desire to be with Obinze without pretenses. Ifemelu admires that the woman sells exactly what she makes without pretense, which contrasts with the Italian restaurant she and Obinze came from that makes money by selling the idea of Italy. When they return to her flat, Ifemelu propositions Obinze directly, asking for what she wants without trying to disguise her desire as being anything but desire, similar to how the plantain seller does not try to embellish what her plantains are. Her satisfaction with simple plantains and dislike of false but fancy Italian food hints at trouble to come in her relationship with Obinze. As things stand, even if they act on their honest desires, they cannot be together honestly if Obinze is married to Kosi. If Obinze is a married man, no matter what language they may use to excuse their relationship, it will be an affair.

Kosi’s response to Obinze’s cheating emphasizes the difference between her and Ifemelu and the ways she embodies the superficiality of Lagos. Kosi values appearances and consistency over turbulent honesty, which recalls Aunty Onenu’s foolish preference for Doris’s obsequiousness over Ifemelu’s constructive criticism. Kosi, like Aunty Onenu, would rather pull herself deeper into a fantasy of success, dressing her family alike, than speak honestly with Obinze about his feelings and desires. The value Kosi places on the appearance of success and happiness sets up as a foil for Ifemelu because Ifemelu’s entire selfhood is based on brutal but productive honesty. The association of Kosi with pretense and Ifemelu with truth means that Obinze’s choice between Kosi and Ifemelu is also a choice about how he wants to live. He can pick comfort with Kosi, who fits into Lagos society, or his honest feelings with Ifemelu.

Although Ifemelu would prefer Obinze in her life, the life she has created for herself is independent of Obinze’s love, which shows that she has truly grown into herself. The self she created in America involved embracing her Nigerianness, first by reclaiming her accent and then her hair. This self-love shows that she has found a way to appreciate herself without Obinze’s approval. She has built a new opportunity for herself and her friends through her blog, which she has kept independent from the influence of financial backers. Her friendship with Ranyinudo can handle difficult conversations, such as the one about the blog post, meaning that she has real friends she can count on and be honest with. Finally, she has chosen heartbreak over a dishonest life with Obinze, meaning that she values herself and her independence over romance. Though she feels sad, she doesn’t regret this decision, and makes no attempt to apologize or make amends for what she believes is the right decision for her life. Ifemelu’s willingness to set the terms for their relationship proves that she sees herself as a complete person without Obinze.