Americanah

Americanah Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
That summer Ifemelu feels like she is always waiting for the “real America” to show itself. She spends all her time with Dike and feels a strong companionship with him, despite his young age. She writes long letters to Obinze. She befriends a family from Grenada in the next apartment: a young couple named Marlon and Jane, and their children who play with Dike. Jane and Ifemelu discuss their similar childhoods and how hard it is to adjust to America, even though Jane has been there ten years. Jane says she wants to move to the suburbs soon, before her children “start behaving like these black Americans.”
Ifemelu feels newly disconnected from Aunty Uju, but she starts developing a strong love and connection with Dike. She and Obinze still keep closely in touch despite the great distance between them. Adichie hints again at the complexity of racial and national interactions in America. Jane is black, and so experiences the same prejudice that African-Americans do, but she still chooses to distance herself from black Americans.
Themes
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
One day Marlon propositions Ifemelu while Jane is out of the room, and after that Ifemelu avoids the couple. Ifemelu invents games to play with Dike, and is surprised that he can’t do simple division, as she could at his age. She starts teaching Dike math. She also spends the summer enjoying some new American foods and missing some Nigerian ones. She watches TV but is especially entranced by the commercials, as the lives they portray seem like the “real America” she imagined. She watches all the violence on the news—still used to the patriotic Nigerian news—and soon starts to feel paranoid and afraid. Aunty Uju laughs at this, saying that the only difference is that they don’t report all the crimes in Nigeria.
Ifemelu had always heard of America as a place of superior education and opportunity, so she is disappointed yet again to find that Dike seems behind where he would be if he were schooling in Nigeria. Ifemelu starts to realize that the America she has been looking for was never real at all—it only existed in media and hearsay. Adichie scatters more cultural criticisms throughout the narrative, like noting that Nigerian news is falsely optimistic, while American news is overly sensationalist.
Themes
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon