From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia No Longer at Ease is a 1960 novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is the story of an Igbo (also spelled Ibo) man, Obi Okonkwo, who leaves his village for a British education and a Job in the Nigerian colonial civil service, but who struggles to adapt to a Western lifestyle and ends up taking a bribe. The novel is the sequel to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, which concerned the struggle of Obi Okonkwo’s grandfather Okonkwo against the changes brought by the English.
Novel’s title The book’s title comes from the closing lines of T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Journey of the Magi: We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death. Plot summary The novel opens with the trial of Obi Okonkwo on a charge of accepting a bribe. It then Jumps back in time to a point before his departure for England and works its way forward to describe how Obi ended up on trial.
The members of the Umuofia Progressive Union (UPIJ), a group of Ibo men who have left their villages to live in ajor Nigerian cities, have taken up a collection to send Obi to England to study law, in the hope that he will return to help his people navigate British colonial society. But once there, Obi switches his major to English and meets Clara Okeke for the first time during a dance. Obi returns to Nigeria after four years of studies and lives in Lagos with his friend Joseph. He takes a Job with the Scholarship Board and is almost immediately offered a bribe by a man who is trying to obtain a scholarship for his little sister.
When Obi indignantly rejects the offer, he is visited by the girl herself ho implies that she will bribe him with sexual favors for the scholarship, another offer Obi rejects. At the same time, Obi is developing a romantic relationship with Clara Okeke, a Nigerian woman who eventually reveals that she is an osu, an outcast by her descendants, meaning that Obi can not marry her under the traditional ways of the Igbo people of Nigeria. While he remains intent on marrying Clara, even his Christian father opposes it, although reluctantly due to his desire to progress and eschew the “heathen” customs of pre-colonial Nigeria.
His mother begs him on her eathbed not to marry Clara until after her death, threatening to kill herself if Obi disobeys. When Obi informs Clara of these events, Clara breaks the engagement and intimates that she is pregnant. Obi arranges an abortion, which Clara reluctantly undergoes, but she suffers complications and refuses to see Obi afterwards. All the while, Obi sinks deeper into financial trouble, in part due to poor planning on his end, in part due to the need to repay his loan to the I-JPLJ and to pay for his siblings’ educations, and in part due to the cost of the illegal abortion.
After hearing of his mother’s death, Obi sinks into a deep depression, and refuses to go home for the funeral. When he recovers, he begins to accept bribes in a reluctant acknowledgement that it is the way of his world. The novel closes as Obi takes a bribe and tells himselt that it is the last one ne will take, only to discover that the bribe was part of a sting operation. He is arrested, bringing us up to the events that opened the story. Themes Though set several decades after “Things Fall Apart”, “No Longer at Ease” continues any of the themes from Achebe’s first novel.
Here, the clash between European culture and traditional culture has become entrenched during the long period of colonial rule. Obi struggles to balance the demands of his family and village for monetary support while simultaneously keeping up with the materialism of Western culture. Furthermore, Achebe depicts a family continuity between Ogbuefi Okonkwo in “Things Fall Apart” and his grandson Obi Okonkwo in “No Longer at Ease”. Both men are confrontational, speak their minds, and have some self-destructive endencies. However, this aggressive streak manifests itself in different ways.