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No Longer At Ease

Chinua Achebe
Characters

William Green

Characters William Green

The character of Mr. Green is representative of the white, European presence in Africa that resulted from the spread of England's empire and its colonial hold on Nigeria. He is an arrogant man, who believes that the African is "corrupt through and through" and that it is the British who have brought Africans civilization and education. Nevertheless, Mr. Green seems to be committed to Nigeria, and there are characters in the book such as his secretary, Miss Tomlinson, who constantly support him in spite of his "strangeness." Miss Tomlinson, however, is also a white Englishperson living in Nigeria. The narrator tells the reader that Green works long and hard hours, but this "quality" is constantly being uprooted by reminders of his colonial attitude and superiority complex. He thus has a problematic relationship with Obi, who is an educated African in a European post. Still he believes in education, which makes it both ironic and fitting that he pays for the education of his steward's sons.

Mr. Green finds it a problem that Africans ask for weeks off at a time for vacations. However, this tradition was actually started by the very Europeans who held these high posts in civil service prior to the Africans themselves. These contradictions are constantly arising out of the character of Mr. Green. He is an archetypal figure of patriarchic colonialism that finds it difficult to relinquish such a position. In fact, when he thought Nigerians would attain independence, he had threatened to resign. Significantly, Mr. Green is a figure of an older world that is constantly present in the Nigeria of the late fifties, which Achebe portrays, only several years before its eventual independence, when a figure like Green will remain a problem but eventually become obsolete.