Americanah– ISU Part 2 (Plot Summary) Pg. 1
She sometimes thinks of Obinze when they are together, but she tries not to compare them. Ifemelu is happy with Curt who spoils her with money and attention.
Americanah– ISU Part 2 (Literary Analysis) Pg.3
Books are a symbol of a better life. Obinze is, from the start, a great lover of books. He is particularly fond of American novels as a teen because he aspires to move to America where he believes he will have a better life. Later, when he is living in England as an illegal immigrant, his escape from his bleak reality is found in bookstores where he treats himself to an expensive coffee and sits among the books reading as much as he can. Ifemelu becomes a lover of books, too, after she moves to America and Obinze encourages her to read more American novels to learn more about the culture there. She goes to the library and loves it there where the books are in great shape and have all their pages, unlike the books she had in Nigeria. When Obinze and Ifemelu are reunited in Nigeria, their first meeting takes place at a bookstore called Jazzhole. Ifemelu tells Obinze she’s going there to buy a book and he meets her there where their new journey toward a better life together begins. .
Accents are a symbol of a person’s place in society. Ifemelu first learns this when she registers for her college classes and is treated like she is unintelligent and can’t understand English because of her Nigerian accent. After that, she adopts an American accent for a time. While in England, Obinze clearly sees how people are treated differently based on their accents. He wonders if his cousin and his cousin’s wife are easier on their kids because they have English accents. And, during one delivery for the warehouse he works at, he and Nigel meet a very shabby looking man who speaks with a posh English accent. In spite of his looks, Nigel says the man is a “real gent” and Obinze realizes Nigel reacts to the man in that manner because of the man’s accent.
The American sitcoms that Ifemelu grows up watching symbolize the life she thinks she will have when she moves to America. These shows feature affluent black families and Ifemelu believes that is how Uju is living in America and that is how she will live, too. However, when she arrives in America, Ifemelu discovers that’s not the case at all. Uju is working three jobs to support herself and Dike while she attends school. She is tired and has let her appearance go. Ifemelu is initially unable to find work and lives in poverty, even degrading herself just to pay the rent. She also encounters issues of race that she never saw on the sitcoms. She discovers that Black Americans are often treated as though they are of a lower class than White Americans. In fact, she never identified as Black until she moved to America.
Ifemelu’s blogs represent freedom for her. Through Ifemelu’s blog writing, she is financially secure and free to live a life that is not dependent on a man like Uju’s life with The General or Ranyinudo’s life with Don. The blogs also give her the freedom to express herself and talk about topics that are of interest to her. This freedom is the main reason Ifemelu quits her job at Zoe to start her second blog.
Americanah– ISU Part 1 (Quotation Analysis) Pg. 5
“This was his weekly treat; to visit the bookshop, buy an overpriced caffeinated drink, read as much as he could for free, and become Obinze again.” Narrator (Part 3, Chapter 27 paragraph 1)
In the novel, books are a symbol of a better life. When Obinze is living in England with little money and a fear of being deported, he finds comfort among books and is able to regain something of his old life and dignity there.
“Their union was leached of passion, but there was a new passion, outside of themselves, that united them in intimacy they had never had before, an unfixed, unspoken, intuitive intimacy: Barack Obama. They agreed, without any prodding, without the shadows of obligation or compromise, on Barack Obama.” – Narrator (Part 4, Chapter 40 paragraph 1)
This quote is a foreshadowing of the demise of Ifemelu’s and Blaine’s relationship. After they get back together following the argument about the protest Ifemelu failed to attend, the only thing they truly agree on is that they both want Barack Obama to be elected president. However, the relationship is never the same again, making it easy for Ifemelu to leave Blaine behind when she returns to Nigeria.
“I worry that she will end up like many women in Lagos who define their lives by men they can never truly have, crippled by their culture of dependence, with desperation in their eyes and designer handbags on their wrists.”– Ifemelu (Part 7, Chapter 50 paragraph Part 7, Chapter 50)
This quote comes from a blog post that Ifemelu writes for her blog in Nigeria. It is about Ranyinudo’s relationship with Don, but could just as easily have been said about Aunty Uju when she was with The General. The quote is significant to the theme of the role of women since this is one of the choices Ifemelu could have made for her life.
“At the Abuja airport on his way back to Lagos, he thought of going to the international wing instead, buying a ticket to somewhere improbable, like Malabo. Then he felt a passing self-disgust because he would not, of course, do it; he would instead do what he was expected to do.” – Narrator (Part 7, Chapter 54 paragraph 23)
This quotation shows Obinze’s desire to leave his marriage and change his life, but feeling as though he cannot because he has a responsibility to his wife and daughter. It shows his internal struggle with the direction his life should take.