No Longer At Ease

Chinua Achebe
  • Study Guide

Chapters 15 and 16

Summary Chapters 15 and 16

The next morning Obi goes to the doctor's who tells Obi the name of the hospital Clara is at, and to where Obi goes directly. Once there, however, the nurse tells Obi that Clara is very sick and that visitors are not allowed.


It is apparent that Obi has begun to lose his faith if he has not lost it already within these two chapters. All of his troubles have piled atop him. He has lost Clara and has to find a way to pay for the abortion and to repay her fifty pounds. And later still, Obi is confronted with the worry he must face because of Clara's complications as a result of the abortion. But this is not until later, for his troubles begin to pile up even before he reaches Lagos. His mother's illness and her ultimatum have put him in a terrible state. In fact, the state is so bad that Obi cannot even concentrate on driving and crashes into a bush. He does not seem incredibly moved by the crash and is beginning to seem almost numb to his situation. When he is told that he is lucky to be alive, he does not seem to feel so.

His pleas to Clara and his explanations are without heart this time, and even she is able to recognize it because she breaks off the engagement completely this time, seeing that there is no real conviction left in his heart. He does not know what to do with himself and falls into pessimistic English poetry. The ultimate symbol of his fall, however, comes when he crumbles up the poem about joy and unity he had written in London, years ago. He throws away this poem named Nigeria as if he is throwing away the idealism with which he wrote it; Obi is beginning to fall into what will eventually lead him straight into bribery.

It is also important to mention Christopher when discussing these two chapters, because he plays an important role. He is the first person Obi turns to when he is faced with the problems of his break-up with Clara and Clara's pregnancy. It is interesting that in the second half of the novel it is Christopher and not Joseph who predominates. The reason for this is because Obi is becoming more and more estranged from his family and his traditions as the novel progresses, and he believes that Christopher will understand him better, given that they received similar educations. However, Christopher disappoints Obi in this section by saying that he, himself, would never think of marrying an osu. Christopher says: "You may say that I am not broad-minded, but I don't think we have reached the stage where we can ignore all our customs." While in the same kind of position, Obi and Christopher have made different decisions regarding their status as in-betweens. Obi, therefore, is continuously meeting opposition, even from a friend who is supposed to understand him. This opposition is also clear when both doctors to whom Clara and Obi go ask them why they are not going to get married? Not only was he going to marry an osu, but now Clara is having an abortion which is also against his roots and traditions.