Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Americanah: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Ifemelu starts applying for jobs. She interviews to be the live-in caretaker of an old man, and at first forgets that her name is supposed to be Ngozi. The woman interviewing her doesn’t ask further, but thinks Ifemelu isn’t strong enough for the job. Later Ginika laughs and tells Ifemelu to make up a story about a “jungle name” and a “tribal name,” as Americans will believe anything about Afrika.
Ginika echoes Aunty Uju’s comment that Americans will believe anything about Africans and think they all look the same. This is humorous in this instance, but it is still a side effect of deeply-ingrained racism in American society. Ifemelu forgets that she is changing her identity.
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The world starts to seem hazy to Ifemelu, as she is constantly confused by her experiences and recognizes that there are many “layers of meaning” slipping past her. She applies to many jobs but is always denied. She frantically tries to save her money, and worries constantly. The university sends her a letter that her records will be frozen if she cannot pay her tuition fees. She talks to Obinze often and he helps keep her calm. She also calls Dike, who cheers her up. She gets her first piece of junk mail with her name on it and feels validated that someone knows she is there, like she is less invisible.
The newness of everything becomes scarier for Ifemelu as time passes and she still feels disconnected from American life. The cultural misunderstandings that were humorous at first now are probably contributing to her continued failure at finding a job. Ifemelu feels so identity-less by now that even getting a piece of junk mail with her name and address on it feels like an important validation.
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