Americanah

The novel’s main protagonist, an intelligent, stubborn, outspoken Nigerian woman who moves to America to attend university. She has difficulty adjusting there but eventually becomes a citizen, wins a fellowship at Princeton, and starts a popular blog about race. She has periods of deep depression at times and often feels like an outsider. She has three serious boyfriends: Obinze, Curt, and Blaine. She eventually moves back to Nigeria, reconnects with Obinze, and builds a life for herself there.

Ifemelu Quotes in Americanah

The Americanah quotes below are all either spoken by Ifemelu or refer to Ifemelu. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race and Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor edition of Americanah published in 2014.
Chapter 4 Quotes

But Obinze said little, and Kayode was left to carry the conversation, his voice getting boisterous, and from time to time he glanced at Obinze, as though to urge him on. Ifemelu was not sure when something happened, but in those moments, as Kayode talked, something strange happened. A quickening inside her, a dawning. She realized, quite suddenly, that she wanted to breathe the same air as Obinze.

Related Characters: Ifemelu, Obinze Maduewesi, Kayode
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

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She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.

Related Characters: Ifemelu, Obinze Maduewesi
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

“Dike, put it back,” Aunty Uju said, with the nasal, sliding accent she put on when she spoke to white Americans, in the presence of white Americans, in the hearing of white Americans. Pooh-reet-back. And with the accent emerged a new persona, apologetic and self-abasing.

Related Characters: Aunty Uju (speaker), Ifemelu
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

Later, she said, “I have to take my braids out for my interviews and relax my hair… If you have braids, they will think you are unprofessional.”

“So there are no doctors with braided hair in America?” Ifemelu asked.

“I have told you what they told me. You are in a country that is not your own. You do what you have to do if you want to succeed.”

There it was again, the strange naivete with which Aunty Uju had covered herself like a blanket. Sometimes, while having a conversation, it would occur to Ifemelu that Aunty Uju had deliberately left behind something of herself, something essential, in a distant and forgotten place. Obinze said it was the exaggerated gratitude that came with immigrant insecurity.

Related Characters: Ifemelu (speaker), Aunty Uju (speaker), Obinze Maduewesi
Page Number: 146-147
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

They mimicked what Americans told them: You speak such good English. How bad is AIDS in your country? It’s so sad that people live on less than a dollar a day in Africa. And they themselves mocked Africa, trading stories of absurdity, of stupidity, and they felt safe to mock, because it was a mockery born of longing, and of the heartbroken desire to see a place made whole again. Here, Ifemelu felt a gentle, swaying sense of renewal. Here, she did not have to explain herself.

Related Characters: Ifemelu
Page Number: 170-171
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 15 Quotes

“Isn’t she just stunning?”

“No, she isn’t.” Ifemelu paused. “You know, you can just say ‘black.’ Not every black person is beautiful.”

Kimberly was taken aback, something wordless spread on her face and then she smiled, and Ifemelu would think of it as the moment they became, truly, friends.

Related Characters: Ifemelu (speaker), Kimberly (speaker)
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

It was like a conjurer’s trick, the swift disappearance of his hostility. His face sank into a grin. She, too, was the help. The universe was once again arranged as it should be.

“How are you doing? Know where she wants me to start?” he asked.

“Upstairs,” she said, letting him in, wondering how all that cheeriness could have existed earlier in his body. She would never forget him… and she would begin the blog post “Sometimes in America, Race is Class” with the story of his dramatic change, and end with: It didn’t matter to him how much money I had. As far as he was concerned I did not fit as the owner of that stately house because of the way I looked. In America’s public discourse, “Blacks” as a whole are often lumped with “Poor Whites.” Not Poor Blacks and Poor Whites. But Blacks and Poor Whites. A curious thing indeed.

Related Characters: Ifemelu (speaker), Kimberly
Page Number: 204-205
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 18 Quotes

She recognized in Kelsey the nationalism of liberal Americans who copiously criticized America but did not like you to do so; they expected you to be silent and grateful, and always reminded you of how much better than wherever you had come from America was.

Related Characters: Ifemelu, Kelsey
Page Number: 232-233
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

“Just a little burn,” the hairdresser said. “But look how pretty it is. Wow, girl, you’ve got the white-girl swing!”

Her hair was hanging down rather than standing up, straight and sleek, parted at the side and curving to a slight bob at her chin. The verve was gone. She did not recognize herself. She left the salon almost mournfully; while the hairdresser had flat-ironed the ends, the smell of burning, of something organic dying which should not have died, had made her feel a sense of loss.

Related Characters: Ifemelu
Related Symbols: Hair
Page Number: 251
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

Later that day she would send an e-mail to Obinze’s Hotmail address: Ceiling, I don’t even know how to start. I ran into Kayode today at the mall. Saying sorry for my silence sounds stupid even to me but I am so sorry and I feel so stupid. I will tell you everything that happened. I have missed you and I miss you. And he would not reply.

“I booked the Swedish massage for you,” Curt said.

“Thank you,” she said. Then, in a lower voice, she added, to make up for her peevishness, “You are such a sweetheart.”

“I don’t want to be a sweetheart. I want to be the fucking love of your life,” Curt said with a force that startled her.

Related Characters: Ifemelu (speaker), Curt (speaker), Obinze Maduewesi
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 31 Quotes

The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America. When you are black in America and you fall in love with a white person, race doesn’t matter when you’re alone together because it’s just you and your love. But the minute you step outside, race matters. But we don’t talk about it. We don’t even tell our white partners the small things that piss us off and the things we wish they understood better, because we’re worried they will say we’re overreacting, or we’re being too sensitive.

Related Characters: Ifemelu (speaker), Curt
Page Number: 359
Explanation and Analysis:

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The simplest solution to the problem of race in America? Romantic love. Not friendship. Not the kind of safe, shallow love where the objective is that both people remain comfortable. But real deep romantic love, the kind that twists you and wrings you out and makes you breathe through the nostrils of your beloved. And because that real deep romantic love is so rare, and because American society is set up to make it even rarer between American Black and American White, the problem of race in America will never be solved.

Related Characters: Ifemelu (speaker)
Page Number: 366-367
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 37 Quotes

“You know why Ifemelu can write that blog, by the way?” Shan said. “Because she’s African. She’s writing from the outside. She doesn’t really feel all the stuff she’s writing about. It’s all quaint and curious to her. So she can write it and get all these accolades and get invited to give talks. If she were African American, she’d just be labeled angry and shunned.”

Related Characters: Shan (speaker), Ifemelu
Page Number: 418
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 40 Quotes

Her phone beeped with a text from Dike.

I can’t believe it. My president is black like me. She read the text a few times, her eyes filling with tears.

Related Characters: Dike (speaker), Ifemelu
Page Number: 447
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 44 Quotes

“Americanah!” Ranyinudo teased her often. “You are looking at things with American eyes. But the problem is that you are not even a real Americanah. At least if you had an American accent we would tolerate your complaining!”

Related Characters: Ranyinudo (speaker), Ifemelu
Page Number: 475-476
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 46 Quotes

“Yes. She approached me, but their budget was too small for me. That girl never understood the first rule of life in this Lagos. You do not marry the man you love. You marry the man who can best maintain you.”

Related Characters: Priye (speaker), Ifemelu, Ranyinudo
Page Number: 492
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 48 Quotes

He was looking at her, soliciting her agreement with his eyes: they were not supposed to watch Nollywood, people like them, and if they did, then only as an amusing anthropology.

“I like Nollywood,” Ifemelu said, even though she, too, thought Nollywood more theater than film. The urge to be contrarian was strong. If she set herself apart, perhaps she would be less of the person she feared she had become. “Nollywood may be melodramatic, but life in Nigeria is very melodramatic.”

Related Characters: Ifemelu (speaker), Fred
Page Number: 504
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 51 Quotes

Finally, he said, “I can’t imagine how bad you must have felt, and how alone. You should have told me. I so wish you had told me.”

She heard his words like a melody and she felt herself breathing unevenly, gulping at the air. She would not cry, it was ridiculous to cry after so long, but her eyes were filling with tears and there was a boulder in her chest and a stinging in her throat. The tears felt itchy. She made no sound. He took her hand in his, both clasped on the table, and between them a silence grew, an ancient silence that they both knew. She was inside this silence and she was safe.

Related Characters: Obinze Maduewesi (speaker), Ifemelu
Page Number: 543
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 54 Quotes

Once she had told him, “The thing about cross-cultural relationships is that you spend so much time explaining. My ex-boyfriends and I spent a lot of time explaining. I sometimes wondered whether we would even have anything at all to say to each other if we were from the same place,” and it pleased him to hear that, because it gave his relationship with her a depth, a lack of trifling novelty. They were from the same place and they still had a lot to say to each other.

Related Characters: Ifemelu (speaker), Obinze Maduewesi
Page Number: 563
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 55 Quotes

The pain of his absence did not decrease with time; it seemed instead to sink in deeper each day, to rouse in her even clearer memories. Still, she was at peace: to be home, to be writing her blog, to have discovered Lagos again. She had, finally, spun herself fully into being.

Related Characters: Ifemelu, Obinze Maduewesi
Page Number: 585-586
Explanation and Analysis:

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Ifemelu Character Timeline in Americanah

The timeline below shows where the character Ifemelu appears in Americanah. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman living in Princeton, New Jersey, must travel to another town to get... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Her blog became very popular, but Ifemelu has recently decided to quit writing it. She wonders if this was a good decision.... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Ifemelu had recently become dissatisfied with her successful blog, her healthy relationship with her boyfriend Blaine,... (full context)
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Ifemelu and Blaine had been together for three years, especially bonding over their shared enthusiasm for... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Back in the present, Ifemelu gets off the train and takes a taxi to the hair braiding salon. She is... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
They arrive and Ifemelu goes into the salon. The three women working there are Mariama, Halima, and Aisha. Ifemelu... (full context)
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Ifemelu tries to read the novel she has brought, but it’s too hot to concentrate. Mariama... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Aisha asks Ifemelu why she doesn’t relax her hair with chemicals, and Ifemelu finds herself preaching (as she... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Aisha says that Nigerian films (Nollywood) used to be bad but now are good, and Ifemelu is pleased to hear Nigeria praised. She has been looking for good omens about her... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Aisha asks Ifemelu if she is Yoruba, and is surprised to hear that she is Igbo (two of... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Aisha asks how long Ifemelu has been in America, but Ifemelu decides then that she doesn’t like Aisha, so she... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Aisha ask where Ifemelu lives, and then looks intimidated when she says Princeton. Ifemelu takes a “perverse pleasure” in... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Ifemelu lies to Aisha and says that she is going to Nigeria to see “her man,”... (full context)
Chapter 2
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Meanwhile Obinze, who is stuck in traffic in Lagos, Nigeria, receives Ifemelu’s email and reads it. In it she congratulates him on his child and says that... (full context)
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
...the beggars in the street, but Obinze is suddenly in a good mood because of Ifemelu’s email. He remembers the first time they touched each other sexually, and how afterwards she... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Obinze returns to Kosi. He wants to go home and write an email back to Ifemelu. He wonders if Blaine is coming with her to Nigeria. Obinze remembers how he and... (full context)
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
...study and listens to Fela, a famous Nigerian musician. He remembers listening to Fela with Ifemelu. Obinze carefully composes an email to Ifemelu. He doesn’t mention Kosi, even though he knows... (full context)
Chapter 3
Identity Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Back at the hair salon, Mariama leaves to pick up Chinese food for everyone. Ifemelu says she doesn’t want anything, as she has a granola bar to eat, and the... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Ifemelu slips into a memory about her mother’s hair when she was growing up in Lagos,... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
After that day Ifemelu’s mother becomes super-religious, and often starves herself as part of her prayers. Ifemelu’s father remains... (full context)
Separation vs. Connection Theme Icon
Cultural Criticism Theme Icon
Ifemelu’s mother starts going to a different church, and later sees another angel and switches churches... (full context)
Romantic Love Theme Icon
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As all this is going on, Ifemelu’s father’s sister, Aunty Uju, becomes the mistress of “The General,” a powerful military man who... (full context)
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Ifemelu’s father is fired from his job at the federal agency for refusing to call his... (full context)
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One Sunday morning the landlord comes by, angry that Ifemelu’s father hasn’t paid the rent. Ifemelu’s mother then comes home from church, wearing makeup that... (full context)
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Sister Ibinabo orders Ifemelu to join a group making garlands for a rich man named Chief Omenka. Ifemelu declares... (full context)
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Ifemelu goes outside and waits for her mother to pick her up, knowing she will be... (full context)
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Ifemelu’s mother is angry, and takes her home. Aunty Uju comes to visit, and Ifemelu’s mother... (full context)
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Aunty Uju sits with Ifemelu and reminds her that she can’t always speak her mind. Ifemelu asks why her mother... (full context)
Chapter 4
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When Ifemelu is a teenager, Obinze comes to her school from Nsukka. He lives with his mother,... (full context)
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...a party at Kayode’s huge mansion, Kayode introduces Obinze to Ginika, who is there with Ifemelu. Kayode makes small talk, expecting Obinze to start talking to Ginika, but Obinze seems more... (full context)
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Ifemelu and Obinze dance and then go outside to talk. Obinze tells her about his childhood,... (full context)
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Obinze and Ifemelu discuss books. Obinze loves American literature and the classics, while Ifemelu only likes crime novels... (full context)
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Ifemelu and Obinze keep talking and flirting, and Ifemelu is surprised to hear that Obinze knows... (full context)
Chapter 5
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After Kayode’s party, Ginika and Ifemelu feel awkward around each other, even though Ifemelu apologizes and Ginika isn’t angry. Soon afterward... (full context)
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...of the “Big Guys” who pretends to be rich even though everyone knows he isn’t. Ifemelu feels uncomfortable in the discussion about foreign travel, as her family is too poor to... (full context)
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...rich popular students. He is obsessed with American culture, and whenever he wants to compliment Ifemelu’s appearance he says she “looks like a black American.” He tries to get Ifemelu interested... (full context)
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One day Obinze tells Ifemelu that his mother wants to meet her. Ifemelu is surprised, as usually kids their age... (full context)
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After that Ifemelu often visits Obinze’s mother at her apartment. One day the three of them are watching... (full context)
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Obinze’s mother discusses sex frankly with the embarrassed Ifemelu. She says she knows how it is to be young and in love, but “Nature... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...avoids the sun and uses special creams to make her skin seem lighter than normal. Ifemelu visits her new house and is amazed at its extravagance. Ifemelu doesn’t want to leave,... (full context)
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The landlord comes again, asking for two years worth of rent. Ifemelu’s father says he has asked his wealthy relative for a loan. Ifemelu knows he won’t... (full context)
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The next weekend Aunty Uju takes Ifemelu to her upper-class hair salon, and says that The General gave her the money. Ifemelu... (full context)
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...The General, even though she recognizes that he is physically unappealing. She can see that Ifemelu is worried about her after finding out that she doesn’t have any money, but Aunty... (full context)
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One night Ifemelu meets The General at Aunty Uju’s house, and is surprised by his “gleeful coarseness.” He... (full context)
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...the food she was cooking, and then yells at her servant when the soup spills. Ifemelu says that Uju should be angry at The General, not the servant. Uju is enraged... (full context)
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...she doesn’t want to meet a new man. After her friends leave, Uju apologizes to Ifemelu. Ifemelu suddenly feels more mature than her aunt, and wishes she could make Uju see... (full context)
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Soon Aunty Uju gets pregnant. Ifemelu’s mother is distraught, as the pregnancy shatters her created idea of The General as Uju’s... (full context)
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...baby, a boy named Dike. She gives him her own surname instead of The General’s. Ifemelu’s mother is now disgusted with The General, and Ifemelu thinks of how fervently her mother... (full context)
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...to America, as she has an American visa. It all seems like a blur to Ifemelu. (full context)
Chapter 7
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Ifemelu and Obinze decide which university they want to attend. Obinze wants to go to the... (full context)
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Ifemelu then decides to go to Nsukka as well, though her mother is upset at how... (full context)
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Ifemelu likes Nsukka, partly because it helps her understand where Obinze came from. She quickly becomes... (full context)
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The strike lasts a long time, and Ifemelu goes back to Lagos and gets bored with all her free time. Odein lives in... (full context)
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The strike finally ends and Ifemelu goes back to Nsukka. Her relationship with Obinze is briefly disturbed by their fight over... (full context)
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A week later Ifemelu has a pain in her side and she starts throwing up. She fears that she... (full context)
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Ifemelu’s sickness worsens that night, and Obinze’s mother takes her to the doctor. In the car... (full context)
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After the surgery Ifemelu sits in the hospital bed and watches Obinze’s mother greet her parents. Ifemelu’s father is... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...She has been there for four years now. One day she calls and suggests that Ifemelu come to America to study and help take care of Dike. Obinze thinks it is... (full context)
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Ifemelu decides to try, and Ginika starts applying to schools on her behalf in the Philadelphia... (full context)
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Ifemelu packs up her stuff with her friends. Ranyinudo tells her that the next time she... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...how sexually active young people are in America, saying it wasn’t like that in Africa. Ifemelu doesn’t join in agreeing with them, and she knows that they will talk about her... (full context)
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Back in her recollections, Ifemelu arrives in America and is surprised at how hot it is, as she had always... (full context)
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Dike has a Hispanic babysitter. At the time Ifemelu assumed she was white, but later she would write a blog post about this called... (full context)
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Back in her memory, Ifemelu is entranced by Dike, who is now a precocious first-grader. Ifemelu has to sleep on... (full context)
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The next morning Aunty Uju wakes Ifemelu up with brisk instructions, telling her that she should take care of Dike for the... (full context)
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At the grocery story Aunty Uju only buys what’s on sale. Ifemelu notices that she takes on an American accent when she speaks to white Americans. At... (full context)
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That night Ifemelu talks to Dike in Igbo, and Aunty Uju rebukes her, saying that things are different... (full context)
Chapter 10
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That summer Ifemelu feels like she is always waiting for the “real America” to show itself. She spends... (full context)
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One day Marlon propositions Ifemelu while Jane is out of the room, and after that Ifemelu avoids the couple. Ifemelu... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...dating a divorced Nigerian man named Bartholomew. He comes over for dinner one day and Ifemelu is appalled at how unintelligent and arrogant he is, and that he takes no interest... (full context)
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Later Ifemelu reads the articles Bartholomew said he posts on a website called Nigerian Village. She notices... (full context)
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Aunty Uju asks Ifemelu what she thought of Bartholomew. Ifemelu points out that he used cheap bleaching creams on... (full context)
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Ifemelu visits Manhattan and is intimidated because of how Obinze had idealized it. Afterward she informs... (full context)
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Ifemelu thinks that Aunty Uju seems to have left something of herself behind in Nigeria and... (full context)
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Aunty Uju gives Ifemelu her friend’s driver’s license and social security card, as Ifemelu now has to pretend to... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Ginika is waiting to pick Ifemelu up at the bus terminal, looking much thinner than she did when Ifemelu last saw... (full context)
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Ginika tells Ifemelu stories of cultural misunderstandings, like the fact that she is supposed to say “biracial” instead... (full context)
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Later Ifemelu drinks beer with Ginika and her American friends, including a Japanese American, a Chinese American,... (full context)
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...at all, and finally says she’ll figure it out later. When they leave the store, Ifemelu asks why the cashier didn’t just ask “Was it the black girl or the white... (full context)
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Ifemelu tries to find an apartment she can afford, and finally moves in with three white... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Ifemelu starts applying for jobs. She interviews to be the live-in caretaker of an old man,... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 14
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When Ifemelu first registers for classes, a white girl named Cristina Tomas sits at the registration table.... (full context)
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Ifemelu finds her classes easy, but is confused as to why there is so much importance... (full context)
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Ifemelu wants to learn more about American culture, and Obinze suggests that she read American books.... (full context)
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Ifemelu finds herself using more American slang and “participating” in class just like the other students.... (full context)
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After class one of the students, Wambui, (who is Kenyan) introduces herself to Ifemelu and invites her to the African Students Association. Ifemelu goes and the members all talk... (full context)
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Mwombeki, a Tanzanian student who reminds Ifemelu of Obinze, gives Ifemelu and some other new students a “welcome talk” about America and... (full context)
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Ifemelu has more job interviews, but even the ones she thinks go well don’t hire her.... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Ifemelu answers an ad looking for a “female personal assistant” for a tennis coach. The blonde... (full context)
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Ifemelu goes to the woman’s house, which is large and extravagant. Her name is Kimberly, and... (full context)
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At the interview Laura and Kimberly ask Ifemelu questions about her transition to America. Kimberly comments on all the “wonderful organic food” Ifemelu... (full context)
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Kimberly’s husband Don arrives before Ifemelu leaves. He is charming and attractive, but clearly knows he is so. He and Kimberly... (full context)
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Ifemelu is a week late for rent, and her roommate leaves her a note about it.... (full context)
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Ifemelu realizes that she isn’t especially mad at Elena and her dog, but is “at war... (full context)
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Ifemelu arrives and the tennis coach brings her up to his bedroom. She tells him that... (full context)
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Ifemelu goes back to her apartment and feels small and alone in the world. She keeps... (full context)
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After that the days pass in a haze. Ifemelu doesn’t answer Obinze’s calls, and she deletes his messages. She feels listless and hopeless all... (full context)
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Ginika says that Kimberly’s new babysitter just left, so she wants to hire Ifemelu. The next day Ginika comes to get Ifemelu. She says that she thinks Ifemelu is... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Kimberly gives Ifemelu some extra money as a “signing bonus,” and Ifemelu is relieved. She buys some shoes... (full context)
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...goes into her room and starts tearing down the wallpaper and ripping up the carpet. Ifemelu finally stops her, and later Kimberly cries and asks Morgan what was wrong. Morgan only... (full context)
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...tries buying Morgan presents, but she ignores him. Kimberly notices that Morgan only listens to Ifemelu. Ifemelu wants to say it’s because she isn’t as easily pushed around as Kimberly lets... (full context)
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...brings over a magazine with a picture of a celebrity surrounded by skinny African children. Ifemelu remarks that the celebrity is skinny by choice, while the kids are not, and Laura... (full context)
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A few months later Kimberly decides to let Ifemelu use their “spare” car to go to and from work. Laura questions the decision, asking... (full context)
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One day Ifemelu gives Taylor an orange, and he is disgusted to find that there are seeds inside—he... (full context)
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Later Ifemelu would write a blog post about this, commenting how in America race often is class.... (full context)
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Ifemelu doesn’t tell Kimberly about the carpet cleaner, but she does tell her about the orange.... (full context)
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...get along with the African-American in the class because “she didn’t have all those issues.” Ifemelu points out that the African woman could have had a father running for parliament or... (full context)
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...and Kimberly throw a party for a friend who is running for Congress. Kimberly invites Ifemelu and Ifemelu senses that Kimberly needs her. Laura ignores Ifemelu during the party. The guests... (full context)
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Another guest invites Ifemelu to apply to work for her charity, as she’s always looking for “local labor.” Ifemelu... (full context)
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Ifemelu leaves the party early to call Aunty Uju. Uju says that Dike has been asking... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Ifemelu eventually makes enough money to get a studio apartment for herself. She has perfected her... (full context)
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That same day Ifemelu takes the train to visit Aunty Uju. She sits down next to a good-looking young... (full context)
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Blaine gets beers for them, and then tells Ifemelu about his years as an undergraduate. Ifemelu is disappointed when the train reaches her stop... (full context)
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Aunty Uju lives in Warrington, Massachusetts now. Every time Ifemelu visits, Uju tells stories of new grievances, like a white patient who didn’t believe that... (full context)
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After a day at summer camp Dike comes home to play soccer with Ifemelu, but he looks unhappy. Ifemelu asks him about it, and finally he tells her that... (full context)
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The chapter ends with a post from Ifemelu’s blog, this one about “American Tribalism.” She explains the four kinds of tribalism: class (rich... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...flatter her about it. They talk more about how untrustworthy Nigerians can be. Aisha asks Ifemelu why she doesn’t have an American accent after living here for fifteen years. Ifemelu ignores... (full context)
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...and whether women are allowed to vote in her country. She tries to talk to Ifemelu about the book she’s reading. Ifemelu can tell that Kelsey is the kind of liberal... (full context)
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Kelsey keeps pursuing a conversation with Ifemelu, and says that she is visiting Africa soon. She says she recently read the book... (full context)
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Ifemelu feels sick, and realizes that she doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life right... (full context)
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Ifemelu slips into a memory of Curt, her first serious boyfriend after Obinze. Curt is Kimberly’s... (full context)
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Later that day Curt asks her out, and Ifemelu feels happy to be so wanted by this rich, very handsome white man. They go... (full context)
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The next day Kimberly and her children all talk about Curt and Ifemelu’s new “relationship,” and Ifemelu feels overwhelmed. Don is surprised when he hears about it, as... (full context)
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As her relationship with Curt progresses, Ifemelu finds herself leading a lavish and carefree life—going to nice restaurants, going hiking, and kayaking.... (full context)
Chapter 19
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On Sundays, Curt and Ifemelu have brunch with Curt’s mother at an ornate hotel. The only other black person in... (full context)
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One day Ifemelu and Curt sit on the couch, she reading and he watching sports. Ifemelu feels content... (full context)
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Ifemelu feels strange talking to her parents on the phone, as she cannot remember some of... (full context)
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Curt says he can help, and he makes a few calls and gets Ifemelu a job interview at a public relations office, which will help her get a work... (full context)
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A friend and Aunty Uju both tell Ifemelu to get rid of her braids and straighten her hair for her job interview. She... (full context)
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Curt is upset by Ifemelu’s burned scalp, and comments on how wrong it is that she has to do this.... (full context)
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The chapter ends with a post from Ifemelu’s blog about what different races in America aspire to. She tells a story of “Professor... (full context)
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Ifemelu tells a story about her aunt firing a Hispanic cleaning lady who was arrogant and... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Ifemelu moves to Baltimore. She arrives at the train station and has an Ethiopian taxi driver.... (full context)
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...story to his friends, who are all like him: white, happy, and wealthy. One day Ifemelu hears Curt use the word “blowhard” in talking to a friend, and the extreme Americanness... (full context)
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Ifemelu gets her own apartment, but she mostly stays with Curt. They often go on spontaneous... (full context)
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Ifemelu’s hair starts to fall out. Wambui tells her it’s the relaxing chemicals that are making... (full context)
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Curt says she looks good, but Ifemelu is so ashamed that she wears a hat to go out and calls in sick... (full context)
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Ifemelu is shocked, as somehow she had never considered that Curt might cheat on her. She... (full context)
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Curt comes by later with lots of flowers, and they take a walk, Ifemelu’s hair covered in a headwrap. After that Ifemelu calls in sick for three more days,... (full context)
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Ifemelu peruses HappilyKinkyNappy.com and finds a whole online community of black women embracing their natural hair.... (full context)
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There is another post from Ifemelu’s blog, this one about why dark-skinned black women love Barack Obama. Ifemelu says that black... (full context)
Chapter 21
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One day Aunty Uju calls Ifemelu, upset that Dike won’t wear the shirt she wants him to wear for church (a... (full context)
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Aunty Uju compliments Ifemelu about making Curt like her, even with her hair “like that.” Uju complains that Dike... (full context)
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Curt and Dike come in, and Ifemelu can see that Dike is now charmed by Curt as well. They soon go back... (full context)
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...is paying for his car. This seems to be the last straw, and Uju tells Ifemelu that she is leaving with Dike to move to a town named Willow. Dike seems... (full context)
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There is another post from Ifemelu’s blog. She says that no matter how much a Non-American Black might try to say... (full context)
Chapter 22
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One day Ifemelu is at a mall when she runs into Kayode, Obinze’s friend from high school. He... (full context)
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Ifemelu gets in the car with Curt and tells him that she ran into an old... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...lid,” and he decides to quit. That same day he gets the first email from Ifemelu. (full context)
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Obinze had been deeply hurt and unable to sleep when Ifemelu’s sudden silence began. He had been even more wounded when Ginika told him that Ifemelu... (full context)
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...deported. Obinze cooks dinner one night, and Ojiugo praises his cooking, and then asks about Ifemelu. Obinze says she went to American and forgot about him. (full context)
Chapter 27
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...with her boy, looking wistful, and Obinze thinks of love, and then he thinks of Ifemelu. Suddenly Obinze feels horny, and he texts a woman he has had sex with before. (full context)
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...ruled by Britain should eventually come to Britain—but it must be comforting. Obinze thinks of Ifemelu and his mother, and the life he thought he would have had by now, and... (full context)
Chapter 30
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As he waits in the detention cell Obinze thinks of Ifemelu and considers contacting her. Iloba visits him and sometimes talks about lawyers, but sometimes just... (full context)
Chapter 31
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The narrative returns to Ifemelu, who almost purposefully sabotages her relationship with Curt by cheating on him with a man... (full context)
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Ifemelu goes back to her apartment and cries on the floor. She wonders why she destroyed... (full context)
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The novel then jumps to a scene at a party years later, when Ifemelu argues with a Haitian woman who says she had dated a white man for three... (full context)
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Ifemelu is slightly drunk, and would later apologize to the woman and the party’s host. She... (full context)
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...he defended his aunt for talking about nothing but the black people she liked when Ifemelu came to visit. Once they walked into a nice restaurant together and the host asked... (full context)
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Ifemelu eventually accepted that there were just some things Curt couldn’t see. Once he flipped through... (full context)
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Ifemelu considered the idea, and wondered how many other non-American black women chose to be silent... (full context)
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The chapter ends with a different post from Ifemelu’s blog. She talks about how she and a white friend are both “Michelle Obama groupies.”... (full context)
Chapter 32
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After breaking up with Curt, Ifemelu feels aimless for a while. She visits Aunty Uju on weekends. Uju has met a... (full context)
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Ifemelu talks to her parents on the phone and they notice that she sounds different, but... (full context)
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Ifemelu’s parents come for three weeks, but they seem like strangers to her. When they arrive... (full context)
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The day her parents leave Ifemelu collapses on her bed and cries, relieved that they are gone and guilty about feeling... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Ifemelu’s blog starts to get very popular suddenly, and she is overwhelmed. She sets up a... (full context)
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Ifemelu and her blog keep getting more famous, and she decides to give her first “diversity... (full context)
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After that, Ifemelu always gives the kinds of talk expected of her, while in her blog she remains... (full context)
Chapter 34
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One day Ifemelu is giving a talk at a “Blogging While Brown” convention in Washington, D.C., when she... (full context)
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After that Ifemelu and Blaine talk and flirt via phone, email, and blog comment, he still living in... (full context)
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Ifemelu especially notices Blaine’s discipline and moral character, and she imagines him as a perfect father.... (full context)
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Ifemelu moves in with Blaine after a year. Soon she realizes she is writing her blog... (full context)
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One time an older white woman asks to touch Ifemelu’s hair, and she lets her. She doesn’t see a problem with it, but it clearly... (full context)
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When she moves to New Haven Ifemelu tells her parents about Blaine. Her father is confused as to why she would choose... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Blaine invites Ifemelu to visit his sister Shan, who has recently moved back to New York from France... (full context)
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Shan brings Ifemelu and Blaine into her apartment, and she stretches confidently as she talks to them. Shan... (full context)
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The chapter ends with a blog post about Barack Obama. Ifemelu says that he will only be able to win the election if he remains the... (full context)
Chapter 36
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Ifemelu attends a surprise birthday party for Blaine’s friend Marcia. The guests at the party talk... (full context)
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Paula is at the party as well, and she acts excessively friendly towards Ifemelu. Paula compliments her blog and then reads out loud a post from it called “Friendly... (full context)
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Ifemelu’s post criticizes many of the things white people say to avoid admitting that racism exists:... (full context)
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...he could do it, and others are simply glad that he makes them feel good. Ifemelu doesn’t know much about Obama yet. One guest says that she is ready for a... (full context)
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Ifemelu later borrows this sentiment for a blog post about the ridiculousness of asking whether the... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Dike seems to grow up very fast, and before Ifemelu knows it he is six feet tall, with a white girlfriend and a group of... (full context)
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...that it potentially could be, if privilege and oppression were properly dismantled. Someone suggests that Ifemelu should blog about this conversation. Shan says that Ifemelu can only get away with writing... (full context)
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There is another blog post from Ifemelu about Obama. This is about how many non-black people say that Obama is half-white, not... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Ifemelu becomes friends with a Senegalese professor at Yale named Boubacar. Blaine doesn’t like him and... (full context)
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After the class Blaine texts Ifemelu about Mr. White, the old security guard at the library, whom Blaine had befriended but... (full context)
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Blaine assumes that Ifemelu is going to his protest, but she decides to go to a lunch with Boubacar... (full context)
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Ifemelu apologizes, but Blaine brings up other issues—how she writes her blog but doesn’t really live... (full context)
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...to jail. There are different kinds of privilege, but race privilege is an undeniable one. Ifemelu links to some questions from Peggy McIntosh (an anti-racism activist) about white privilege. They ask... (full context)
Chapter 39
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Ifemelu stays with Aunty Uju, who does yoga now. Ifemelu, however, takes a perverse pleasure in... (full context)
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After nine days, Blaine finally answers Ifemelu’s calls. She suggests coming over and making coconut rice. They cook together in awkward silence,... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Blaine ultimately forgives Ifemelu, but their relationship is different after that. Ifemelu still loves Blaine, but now sees him... (full context)
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Ifemelu was skeptical about Obama at first, but then she read Obama’s book, Dreams from My... (full context)
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Ifemelu is constantly nervous that Obama will be killed, or that some scandal will emerge about... (full context)
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Ifemelu gets the Princeton fellowship she had applied for. She is to live at Princeton, use... (full context)
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...when an average black man from the South can be voted president. Everyone agrees, and Ifemelu is again encouraged by how much they all agree about this, and how they are... (full context)
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Blaine and Ifemelu have sex for the first time in weeks on the day that Obama becomes the... (full context)
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...Shan has been having a “nervous breakdown” about her book not getting any attention. When Ifemelu had last seen her, she had tried to bring up Obama, but Shan said she... (full context)
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On election day, Ifemelu, Blaine, and Blaine’s friends are all extremely nervous. They gather together to watch the news.... (full context)
Chapter 41
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...the hair salon, Aisha complains that her Igbo boyfriend won’t show up to talk to Ifemelu. Ifemelu starts feeling frustrated, until Aisha asks her about how she got her green card.... (full context)
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Suddenly Aisha starts to cry, and Ifemelu promises that she will go visit her boyfriend tomorrow and talk to him about marrying... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Obinze checks his email obsessively, but it takes four days for Ifemelu to respond. Obinze looks up more things about Blaine, and is disappointed to find himself... (full context)
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Ifemelu writes back an hour later. She says she is crying, and that Obinze’s mother was... (full context)
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The email makes Obinze feel better, and he hopes that Ifemelu has broken up with Blaine. He tries to imagine how America might have changed her.... (full context)
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Finally Ifemelu replies, apologizing for her silence. She says that Dike attempted suicide, and she has become... (full context)
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At home Obinze reads all the posts from Ifemelu’s blog. He is surprised by the slangy American voice in her writing, and cringes when... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Ifemelu sleeps on Dike’s floor for a few days after she arrives. She can’t stop thinking... (full context)
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Weeks pass, and Ifemelu asks Dike what he wants to do for his birthday. He jokingly suggests they go... (full context)
Chapter 44
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Ifemelu arrives in Lagos and feels overwhelmed by the noise and bustle. Her old friend Ranyinudo... (full context)
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Ranyinudo comes straight from a friend’s wedding to pick up Ifemelu, and she talks about how she met a rich man there while waiting outside the... (full context)
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Ranyinudo takes Ifemelu to her apartment. The gatemen says “welcome back” to her, as if he somehow knows... (full context)
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...about their old friends, and who has married rich or has gotten rich through fraud. Ifemelu watches Ranyinudo and wonders if she would resemble her friend if she had never left... (full context)
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...power in Ranyinudo’s building for a week straight, and everyone has generators for these outages. Ifemelu complains about the humidity and Ranyinudo makes fun of her for being an Americanah. Ifemelu... (full context)
Chapter 45
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Ifemelu finds a job as a features editor for a women’s magazine called Zoe. Her employer... (full context)
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Ranyinudo drives Ifemelu back from the interview and gossips about how Aunty Onenu started Zoe just to compete... (full context)
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Over the next few weeks Ifemelu often thinks that she sees Obinze, but it always turns out to be a stranger.... (full context)
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Ifemelu likes the apartment because it is across from a crumbling colonial mansion, and the first... (full context)
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Ifemelu hires someone to put new tiles in the kitchen and bathroom before she moves in.... (full context)
Chapter 46
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Ifemelu visits her parents, who like to talk about their visit to America. Whenever she visits... (full context)
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Ifemelu’s friend Priye is now a wedding planner. She boasts about how many famous people come... (full context)
Chapter 47
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Ifemelu starts work at Zoe magazine. She is unnerved at first when the receptionist, who is... (full context)
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Ifemelu and Doris eventually start talking about America, and Doris invites Ifemelu to the “Nigerpolitan Club,”... (full context)
Chapter 48
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Ifemelu goes with Doris to the Nigerpolitan meeting. Everyone there has some kind of “self-styled quirkiness”... (full context)
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...who went to Harvard, and he discusses how silly Nollywood (the Nigerian film industry) is. Ifemelu declares that she likes Nollywood—she doesn’t really, she just doesn’t want to be the kind... (full context)
Chapter 49
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Finally Ifemelu starts feeling like she is truly home again. She no longer has to ask Ranyinudo... (full context)
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At one of these parties Ifemelu thinks she sees Obinze again. Ranyinudo has told her how beautiful Obinze’s wife is, and... (full context)
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At Zoe Ifemelu, Doris, and Zemaye all bicker. They have a meeting to discuss their articles with Aunty... (full context)
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...the receptionist, has typhoid, but doesn’t know what kinds of pills the doctor gave her. Ifemelu suggests writing about this, as the pill bottles are unlabelled and could contain anything. Doris... (full context)
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Ifemelu keeps complaining about the boring interviews Aunty Onenu publishes, and Doris tells her that those... (full context)
Chapter 50
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Dike has been seeing a therapist three times a week, and Ifemelu calls him every other day. One day Dike asks to visit Ifemelu, and Aunty Uju... (full context)
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Ifemelu’s new blog is called “The Small Redemptions of Lagos.” She interviews Priye about weddings, and... (full context)
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In the article Ifemelu references Ranyinudo without naming her, and Ranyinudo calls, upset that she will be recognized. She... (full context)
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When Dike visits he helps Ifemelu moderate the blog’s comments, and is amused at how personally people take the articles. Dike... (full context)
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...Dike would want to kill himself. She says that is “very foreign behavior.” This makes Ifemelu suddenly angry, and she asks if Ranyinudo has ever read Things Fall Apart. Ifemelu knows... (full context)
Chapter 51
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Ifemelu goes to the bank, worried about her money because Bank of America has repeatedly warned... (full context)
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...meet and there seems to be a “caving of the blue sky” before they embrace. Ifemelu talks awkwardly but Obinze remains calm. They go inside and sit down. Obinze turns off... (full context)
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They start to flirt, and Ifemelu asks Obinze about his new status as a rich man. Obinze complains about how undignified... (full context)
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...visited America a few times, and isn’t as infatuated with it as he once was. Ifemelu can’t help feeling bad that he had been there without her knowing. They approach talking... (full context)
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...says that he has to go, and they embrace and part ways. Immediately Obinze texts Ifemelu and asks to have lunch tomorrow, and she accepts. They don’t mention Obinze’s wife and... (full context)
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...and his mother’s village. They stand by the bookshelf and start to kiss. Obinze asks Ifemelu why she suddenly cut off contact in America. She sits down and tells him about... (full context)
Chapter 52
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One day Obinze takes Ifemelu to a club he belongs to play table tennis. They sing along with new Nigerian... (full context)
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They keep going out for meals each day, and Ifemelu stores the happy memories of buying food from hawkers (merchants selling food to passersby) with... (full context)
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Obinze asks if Ifemelu is still with Blaine, and she says it doesn’t matter because Obinze is married. He... (full context)
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They start to kiss and then have sex. Ifemelu had never liked the phrase “making love,” but she feels that it applies to them... (full context)
Chapter 53
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In the following weeks Ifemelu starts to live out a series of clichés, as she feels herself falling in love... (full context)
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...very traditional ideas about marriage, so she doesn’t like her husband to cook. Obinze tells Ifemelu that there’s a lot of pretending in his marriage, and that he married Kosi during... (full context)
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...both start to cry, and then they hold each other and have sex. Obinze invites Ifemelu to come with him to Abuja, a town in central Nigeria, that Friday. Ifemelu says... (full context)
Chapter 54
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Obinze goes to Abuja and imagines what Ifemelu would think of its atmosphere of rich businessmen buying sex. He likes that he can... (full context)
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Obinze imagines what Ifemelu might be doing right now. He wonders if she realizes how obsessively he thinks of... (full context)
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...and outspoken at dinner, and he gets up to go to the bathroom and call Ifemelu. He is angry when she still doesn’t pick up. (full context)
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...comes into the bathroom to ask Obinze what’s wrong. Obinze wants to tell Nigel about Ifemelu, but doesn’t. That night Kosi offers to have sex, but Obinze remains unaroused. He has... (full context)
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...bowl of potpourri into the toilet, and then feels guilty. Obinze had told Kosi that Ifemelu was back in town after their first meeting, and Kosi had been carefully indifferent in... (full context)
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Obinze repeats his declaration and Kosi says she knows that he has been sleeping with Ifemelu, but that Kosi has been a good wife, and they took a vow before God,... (full context)
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...is normal. Obinze suddenly feels angry about her mild speech and euphemisms, and thinks of Ifemelu’s harsh directness, like calling him “fucking coward.” Obinze feels like a coward again for letting... (full context)
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Okwudiba asks Obinze what’s wrong, and Obinze tells him that Ifemelu is back in town. Obinze says he wants to marry her, and he never should... (full context)
Chapter 55
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Meanwhile Ifemelu is suffering for love as well: an idea she always found silly until she really... (full context)
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Ifemelu keeps writing more blog posts, but she always writes them with Obinze’s opinion in mind.... (full context)
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Ifemelu calls Blaine to say hello and to tell him that she always thought he was... (full context)
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One night Ifemelu runs into Fred (the man from the Nigerpolitan Club) at a play. Fred starts up... (full context)
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Seven months after Ifemelu last saw Obinze, he appears at her door. She is surprised to see him. Obinze... (full context)