Americanah

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Americanah Chapter 45 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ifemelu finds a job as a features editor for a women’s magazine called Zoe. Her employer invites her to her home for the interview, which Ifemelu finds unprofessional. She asks Ifemelu to call her “Aunty Onenu.” It soon becomes clear that the magazine is a hobby for her, and she is mostly interested in competing with Glass, another women’s magazine. Ifemelu immediately makes some suggestions for improving the magazine, and Aunty Oneneu comments on how she is a “real American.”
Ifemelu is used to writing for high-level publications in America, and this new job seems provincial and unprofessional to her. The more she actually readjusts to life in Nigeria, the more Ifemelu feels like a real “Americanah.” Aunty Onenu is an echo of Ifemelu’s father’s old boss, who wanted her employees to call her “Mummy.”
Themes
Identity Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Ranyinudo drives Ifemelu back from the interview and gossips about how Aunty Onenu started Zoe just to compete with the publisher of Glass, as they are personal rivals. Ifemelu comments on how ugly Aunty Onenu’s house is, but Ranyinudo says she thinks that it’s beautiful. Ifemelu recognizes that once she too would have thought a gaudy, extravagant house like that beautiful.
Part of Ifemelu’s change is taking on Western aesthetic tastes. She now finds new and extravagant things tacky, and things like antiques beautiful. This is part of being used to having enough—gaudiness is beautiful when it is unattainable, but not when you are used to it as an option.
Themes
Identity Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Over the next few weeks Ifemelu often thinks that she sees Obinze, but it always turns out to be a stranger. Ifemelu tries to find an apartment, and one landlord says he doesn’t usually rent to Igbo people, but he will make an exception for her. Ifemelu is surprised that people can say things like that, and wonders if it used to be so before she left as well.
Ifemelu is finally in the same country as Obinze once more, but she avoids contacting him until she feels secure and confident enough. Adichie shows the prejudices still alive in Nigeria between the country’s major ethnic groups: Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba.
Themes
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Ifemelu likes the apartment because it is across from a crumbling colonial mansion, and the first time she saw it there was a peacock on its roof. Ifemelu writes the landlord a check for two years rent, as is expected. She thinks of how this is why people take bribes and ask for bribes in Lagos, as asking for two years rent in advance is absurd.
Decades earlier Ifemelu’s father’s landlord had been demanding two years’ worth of rent, and the practice is apparently still the same. Corruption is ingrained in the Nigerian system, just like racism is ingrained in the American one.
Themes
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
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Ifemelu hires someone to put new tiles in the kitchen and bathroom before she moves in. She finds that the work is shoddily done, and gets blustery and angry at the worker and estate agent. They finally agree to do the work again. Ranyinudo says she isn’t acting like an Americanah anymore, and Ifemelu is pleased despite herself. Ranyinudo suggests she reconnect with Obinze, because he is rich now. Ifemelu can only shake her head, as for Ranyinudo men are just “sources of things.” Ifemelu and Obinze continue to email each other sometimes, but Ifemelu hasn’t told him that she’s back in Nigeria yet.
Ifemelu is starting to readjust to the more subtle differences between American and Nigerian social life. Ifemelu is still afraid to contact Obinze—she has idealized their relationship as something pure and sacred, different from the many materialistic romances of Ranyinudo and her Lagos peers.
Themes
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon