No Longer At Ease

Chinua Achebe
  • Study Guide

Important Quotes Explained

Quotes Important Quotes Explained

At the first meeting, a handful of people had expressed the view that here was no reason why the Union should worry itself over the troubles of a prodigal son who had shown great disrespect to it only a little while ago.

The narrator tells the reader this in the first chapter, when the Umuofia Progressive Union holds an emergency meeting in order to discuss their "brother" and "son," Obi. The Union has many opinions, and here it seems to be saying that they need not protect the very man who has, according to them, turned against them. This is important because it poses the Union against Obi, and since the Union symbolizes his village of Umuofia (his "home"), it therefore symbolically poses Obi against his village and the ways of his village.

Obi cannot see eye to eye with the opinions of the Union. From the very beginning they have quarreled for reasons such as Clara's status in society. Obi does not find it important because Nigeria is changing and by the time he has children this issue of Clara's status will be of no importance whatsoever. Obi explains that the conversion to the white man's religion of Christianity was once viewed with the same negativity as Clara's position, and, since that had changed, there was no reason for this not to change too. Paradoxically, the parable of the "prodigal son" is alluded to in the statements of the Umuofians. This parable is, of course, a Christian one—one that if were used years earlier might have been looked poorly upon and yet has come to be accepted. Therefore, the Union seems to be, unknowingly proving Obi's point.

Obi is in a position where he is not "at ease" anywhere because he finds himself between two worlds. He finds himself against the polar attitudes he sees around him and, therefore, finds himself between the ideas of his village and the ideas of someone like the empire-loving Mr. Green, with whom he also disagrees.