Clara is another character in the novel that is struggling in the changing world of pre-independence Nigeria. She is educated abroad, like Obi, and has a career as a nurse. She has a mind of her own and is often stubborn but shows herself to be quite caring, nevertheless. The first one-on-one conversation she has with Obi was regarding Obi's seasickness (she had gone to his cabin, on their voyage home, because she had seen that he was feeling ill). She is also willing to compromise, and, although she finds Obi's poetry boring, she is willing to listen to it. She is also willing to meet with friends of Obi's that she dislikes. While she seems quite spoiled at times, she does her shopping in the slums and is willing to genuinely give Obi money to save him from trouble, even if he is unwilling to take it. However, the truth remains that she is a difficult person, perhaps because she finds it difficult to let go of her past.
She is strong-minded though not intellectual and finds herself bound to a tradition that seems unfair to both her and Obi. She is burdened by the fact that she is an osu, which means that because of her ancestral past, she is an outcast. It is for this reason that she cannot marry the man she wishes to marry. Though Obi claims he does not care, he respects the ultimatum of his mother, which is that he must wait until she is dead, or she will kill herself if he marries Clara while she (his mother) is alive. This upsets Clara, and it is after this that they have their final break-up, after which Clara is hospitalized because of complications during an abortion. During this time Clara refuses to see Obi.
From the beginning Clara's romance with Obi was on unstable ground. Symbolically we need only to look at where Clara and Obi first began their relationship: in the water, on turbulent and fluctuating grounds.