Throughout the story collection, characters consistently take note as to what cars other characters drive. Particularly in the stories that take place in Nigeria, the cars act as a symbol of Western influence, and for some characters, a status symbol. The Cell One narrator notes that due to the influence of American rap videos, cult members on the Nsukka campus drive their parents' cars with the seats pushed all the way back. Combined with the violence of the cults, and in particular the cult members' regular habit of stealing cars, the cars themselves become a symbol of power borrowed from the West. Professor James Nwoye in "Ghosts" is very proud of his car: it's an older model, but impeccably maintained, and is therefore indicative of his status as a (retired) professor. For those characters in America, owning a car of any type shows that they're making it in America and pursuing the American dream.
Cars Quotes in The Thing Around Your Neck
They may have once been benign fraternities, but they had evolved and were now called "cults"; eighteen-year-olds who had mastered the swagger of American rap videos were undergoing secret and strange initiations that sometimes left one or two of them dead on Odim Hill.
"You got a great house, ma'am," he'd said, with that curious American smile that meant he believed he, too, could have something like it someday. It is one of the things she has come to love about America, the abundance of unreasonable hope.