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Summary of African Novel, No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe Essay

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Clara Okeke is a young ,trained nurse who is presented in the novel as a character who finds it difficult to adapt to the Nigerian society before independence. She is the fiance of the protagonist, Obi Okonkwo who she first meets at a dance in England. Though said to be Ibo, Clara is educated abroad and lives a very modern lifestyle much like that of the protagonist. Right from the beginning of the story, we see her relationship with Obi as a very unstable one with many disagreements and quarrels. It is revealed as the story progresses that, she is an Osu and belongs to a group of people known to be outcasts in the Nigerian society of the 1960s where the story is set.

Right from the beginning of the story, readers are made to see Clara as a very educated young woman and strong-minded, though she is not portrayed as very intellectual. Unlike Obi, Clara is bound tightly to her tradition. Achebe portrays Clara's strong attachment to her tradition,to offer an index to the culture of class society in Nigeria. As the story goes on, Obi notices Clara's unhapinness as they drive through town and asks her what is wrong. After several attempts of trying to get her to answer, Clara replies saying,"I can't marry you." And explains saying," I am an osu." The fact that Clara says she "cannot marry" Obi because of her ancestry, does not only show her strong respect for her culture but also, her strong attatchment to her tradition. On hearing this, Obi screams "Nonsense!". The exclamation mark suggests Obi's strong dissaproval of the point Clara raises and also emphasizes his resentment. Here, Obi is portrayed as 'very' angry to bring out the fact that, he has fallen in love with a woman who can never be a part of the social class he belongs to...


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...t going to watch it just because Obi says so. From this little disagreement, readers are made to see that Obi and Clara have different interests though they have love for each other. This disagreement also symbolises the beginning of all the problems in their relationship, that will unfold gradually as the story progresses.

Clara is portrayed as a very significant character in the novel. Through her actions and charater , Achebe is able to project to readers, the degree of stability of Clara and Obi's relationship and most importantly, the character of the protagonist, Obi Okonkwo. Achebe makes Clara's characater one, who contributes greatly to the plot of the story. Through Clara's actions and her thoughts, readers are made to see Obi's thoughts on the Nigerian society and also helps the readers to understand the society class system in an African society.










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