But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,. With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death. T. S. Eliot: 'The Journey of the. PDF | 2+ hours read | On Jan 1, , Akwanya and others published 'Chinua Achebe's NO LONGER AT EASE and the Question of Failed Expectations'. his debts and can no longer be a part of the corruption. It is at this The protagonist of the No Longer at Ease, Obi Okonkwo, is a young man born in Ibo in the.
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From the author of Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God comes Chinua Achebe's No Longer at. Ease, his second book in the African trilogy and one that was. Title Slide of No longer at ease pdf. No longer at ease. Justine Faith Dela Vega · Achebe chinua-no-longer-at-ease2. Dr. Mamadou BA. Okike 73 A.N. AKWANYA Chinua Achebe's No Longer at Ease: and the Question of Failed Expectations The failures that have been remarked as regards No.
Twenty-six-year-old Obi Okonkwo is convicted of accepting bribes as a civil servant. His boss, who testifies against him, and another British colonial official wonder what it is in the African makeup causes such aberrations, while Obi's people in the Umuofia Progressive Union UPU see it being merely a case of an inexperienced young person not going about it in the established manner.
How Obi comes to this end is examined. Obi meets beautiful Clara Okeke at a dance in England where both are studying, but makes no impression on her. They meet again traveling home to Nigeria, and their first kiss is interrupted. Obi's first contact with the UPU upon arrival goes as poorly as his first dance with Clara: He prefers to room with an old friend than to be put up in a shoddy Nigerian-run hotel.
UPU officers discuss how bribery works but doubt someone like Obi who knows "book" will need to resort to it. Obi's job interview turns into a literary discussion, and he visits his village while waiting for the verdict. The offering of kola nuts to honor his homecoming becomes an occasion for conflict between his fundamentalist Christian father and "heathen" villagers. Old Isaac is ready to "depart in peace", having seen his son returned.
Mother Hannah is waiting for Obi's first child before she leaves. Why Clara wants Obi not to mention her is a growing concern. Obi's boss, Mr. Green, is a European frustrated by living in times when he cannot treat Africans as he pleases. Obi receives special allowances that make him feel financially flushed. He insists on downloading Clara an engagement ring after she reveals she is a member of an untouchable caste, the "osu". Eliot 's poem, The Journey of the Magi : We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death. Plot summary[ edit ] The novel begins with the trial of Obi Okonkwo on the charge of accepting a bribe. It then jumps back in time to a point before his departure for England and works its way forward to describe how Obi ended up on trial. The members of the Umuofia Progressive Union UPU , a group of Ibo men who have left their villages to live in major Nigerian cities, have taken up a collection to send Obi to England to study law, in the hope that he will return to help his people navigate British colonial society.
But once there, Obi switches his major to English and meets Clara for the first time during a dance. Obi returns to Nigeria after four years of studies and lives in Lagos with his friend Joseph. He takes a job with the Scholarship Board and is almost immediately offered a bribe by a man who is trying to obtain a scholarship for his sister.
When Obi indignantly rejects the offer, he is visited by the girl herself, who implies that she will bribe him with sexual favors for the scholarship, another offer Obi rejects.
At the same time, Obi is developing a romantic relationship with Clara Okeke, a Nigerian woman who eventually reveals that she is an osu , an outcast by her descendants, meaning that Obi cannot marry her under the traditional ways of the Igbo people of Nigeria.
He remains intent on marrying Clara, but even his Christian father opposes it, although reluctantly due to his desire to progress and eschew the "heathen" customs of pre-colonial Nigeria. The work does not submit to guidance by a logic which is a kind of Super-ego Freud, Equally, culture, history, individualism and liberty, democracy and authoritarianism, religious piety and atheism, and so on, may be defined in such a way that they function as a Super-ego in regard to text formation.
In principle, the reinforcing of our sensibilities is not the function of art. Their violation may in fact be one way the work seeks to free itself from the Super- ego see Deleuze and Guattari The principle which accounts for the movement of the sequence may indeed be something produced by the text as a force outside the human realm, such as fate, and other forms of necessity frequently encountered in ancient literature. In realist literature, the character is aware of himself as hemmed in on all sides by convention.
He cannot change this in any meaningful way, and may only attempt to win by negotiation, by crook, or by subterfuge some small concession or elbowroom. There are still more permutations, and each can generate a sequence. Generate is used here in the strict sense of bringing to birth, bringing forth and causing to appear.
Pragmatism knows no non-relational characteristics. Everything we find, we find in the light of our own convictions, attitudes and demands That is what we are attempting in this study.
In fact, the book has infrequently been studied. Thinking and writing about it has often been in the context of a general survey, under the pragmatic principle of what Achebe is about in that book. For his own part, Gareth Griffiths is still more metaphysical: This means really that only the one who exercises speech in a literary work has the means to show or to make a case for something.
For anyone else to succeed to do so can only be in the form of a dues ex machina — a god working through a machine. The impossibility of getting in a word from the outside, except by working a machine, is a constraint inherent in discourse itself — although Achebe not having allowed himself an exercise of speech anywhere in this novel has not discouraged the reader of No Longer at Ease as an informative text, or even an instructional one, with the donor of the instruction or the message as Chinua Achebe himself.
There are always available ways to get around this discursive constraint for a reader determined on that course. Accordingly, besides the philosophical and metaphysical approaches we have mentioned, there are others which are practical and commonsensical.
We see an example in Roderick Wilson, where he agrees with G. Killam that the business is to convey information that the price of modernity in Africa is to be no longer at ease. This is a lesson which B. Chukwukere does not make out for himself in his own reflection on No Longer at Ease.
And yet his reflection is guided by the same question being tackled by Wilson and others: For Chukwukere, the responsibility of authorship is first of all self-production, even before the conveying of information. The writer has to establish himself in the given book as such and such a personality by means of his language, and when we are sure who he is, we may submit ourselves to the receiving of a one-way dialogue from him: The extent to which he has fully conceived his story, theme, plot and characters reveals itself in his style Chukwukere is telling us that style is how an author gives himself a voice in a novel; and if we can follow his style, we are following his speech act.
Style is the backdoor through which the writer re-enters the book, having escaped the discursive constraint which binds all literary art, that speech is the primary way of representing thought or opinion or a preference — therefore, the thought, opinion, or preference of the one who speaks, either the character or the narrator. In No Longer at Ease, Achebe is not assigned a space, so he can make no gesture, much less speak. But if he were a skilled stylistician, Chkwukere maintains, he could circumvent all constraint: But there has been a catastrophe: Achebe loses hold of No Longer at Ease, and the secret place of his voice in it, the style.
He cannot now speak in No Longer at Ease; it is Hollywood that does. All the same, Chukwukere has this strange remark: In No Longer at Ease, where the world is that of contemporary, urban Nigeria, we find no fault with the use of pidgin; it is true to life, and shows how the author realises very well the dimensions of his work He writes: No Longer at Ease takes place in historical time, but it is a personal story rather than an historical one.
Achebe, writing in the later s, wished apparently to deal with the alienation such educated young men as himself felt in the new nation moving swiftly toward independence…. Okike 81 If as we have said, formulations of the questions that guide the inquiries the literary critics conduct on literary works of art are rules in so far as they make an assertion about what literature is, and prescribe the kinds of answers which an acceptable investigation of the individual work should yield, there must be something wrong with the multiplicity of themes claimed for No Longer at Ease.
None of these claims about theme appears to allow the possibility of there being more than one theme, or that the one espoused and purveyed may be the scholar's own personal hunch, which stands to be proved true or false, is provisional, or open to further investigation. But to put it that way is necessarily to relativize theme, to bring it down from the status of objective fact to a personal view — which means that the novel itself need not be about any of that.
It is therefore an open question what value to attach to the implicit claims of people like Wren and Wilson that the author not only accomplishes his purpose but also meets all expectations, and those of people like Chukwukere, that he does not.
What is more, the tendency of Achebe scholars to overlook No Longer at Ease or dismiss it in one sentence or two is as if many are in secret agreement with Chukwukere that there is very little that one can do with this novel. This secret consensus is that the work is not worthy of the author of Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God.
Even Wren and Wilson, and all the others who speak on behalf of the themes and messages seem to share this secret consensus, in as much as there is something apologetic in their presentations, the apologetic of relevance. The structure of the sequence itself opens quite other expectations.
Here the expectations are focused on the protagonist Obi, and he continually fails. But if we ask, is this a just expectation of Clara? This path of questioning is potentially productive because it calls forth a new effort of reading, in order to uncover a definite pattern of movement and follow it through, in order to achieve a new understanding of the text. For the study of structure ensures that one is looking at the text as a singular work of art, not one that fails to be another novel, which pre- exists it, or is even contemporary with it.
But it must permit that this individual work be seen in relation to other art works, wherever they may originate from, since it is these that establish its character as a work of art.
We may think of the sequences of the anti-hero, for instance — those on whom are invested great expectations, or who think of themselves in terms of roles associated with heroes and heroines of the literary tradition. For if No Longer at Ease is a literary work of art, it is because it partakes of the properties wherein art stands apart from everything else that is not art. That is to say, it is by virtue of the resemblances it shares with other art works.
As a novel, No Longer at Ease partakes of the properties of novelistic art, even down to the novelistic art of a particular subtype. But novels do differ among themselves. In fact, they divide up into different subsets sharing specific sets of properties. For example, there are novels of the high mimetic mode, as well as the low mimetic and ironic modes, besides the mythic and romantic mimetic levels.
This comes out in the kinds of character who are the subjects of the action in these novels. At least, they are superior to the other characters involved in the working out of the sequence.
This aspect is seen in Okonkwo and Ezeulu, in their shared sense of sureness and fixity of purpose, and the courage to pursue this purpose, come what may. In A Man of the People, the two main characters are equally very strong personalities, and equally matched in sureness and tenacity of purpose and decisiveness. No one else in the sequence comes up to that level, not even Max, whose sense of purpose turns out ultimately to be weak. He may even be unprincipled, as he accepts money from Chief Koko on the understanding that he would stand down for him: Anthills of the Savannah is also a high mimetic sequence.
By contrast, the protagonist of No Longer at Ease is a man who is not moved by a publicly determinable goal. He does not strike at first sight as having the motivation to stand up to anything. For example, he has a vague longing to go up the stairs and join the women at tea, talking of Michelangelo. But he does not do anything. He knows too of the gap between his wishes and the intention to bring them about: I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid lines Several times, in fact, Obi sees the moment of his greatness flicker.
He too is content to observe them celebrate. His only wish is, would that the European colonists should be here now to see what is going on: Let them come to Umuofia and listen to the talk of men who made a great art of conversation. Let them come and see men and women and children who knew how to live, whose joy of life had not yet been killed by those who claimed to teach other nations how to live In the present case, what is longed for is unachievable.
The high point at which the celebration ends is the brief recounting of the history Umuofia, especially the village of Iguedo, in heroic terms by Ogbuefi Odogwu. There are nine villages in Umuofia, but Iguedo is Iguedo. We have our faults, but we are not empty men who become white when they see white, and black when they see black.
Stand up! Obi stood up obediently. He is Okonkwo kpom-kwem, exact, perfect. As it is in the beginning so will it be in the end.
This incident is of the same order of significance as the legendary first Ezeulu going down on his knees to receive the Alusi on his head Arrow of God But it does not come to his head whether this involves a mode of being or a manner of action.
As a matter of fact, he is taking all this in the spirit in which he is taking the rejoicing going on around him; that is, as a spectator. In this, he differs from Prufrock, who is afraid that he may betray his insubstantiality. Prufrock talks endlessly to sustain a fiction, that he is someone. He is keeping the gaze upon himself, and thereby asserting a substantiality he does not feel. His very talking is itself a mode of action.
By contrast, Obi looks on, taking all in, but above all, looking on. It has cost the protagonist of No Longer at Ease no effort whatever to seize the gaze of the people of Umuofia at the homecoming, and it has not crossed his mind that it may do them some good if he should stay in their gaze.
But even if he had done, there may be other reasons why he does not let himself be carried away by their enthusiasm. In a place like Lagos, where the people are somewhat more demanding than at Umuofia, he does not undertake the effort required to engage their gaze. They want him to venture forth on a mission assigned by themselves; and they are massed up, ready to fall in behind him, and supply his strength with their heavy tread.
The people of Umuofia may indeed know how to live, but they are totalitarian when they form a common will as to who to carry their Alusi. There may be no dissent, certainly not from the one chosen because, after all, it is a kind of honour to be chosen.
In the case of Obi and the people of Umuofia in Lagos, there is no one else to choose: We see him, for example, at his reception by the Umuofia Progressive Union in Lagos. The people's expectation is that he should present himself as a spectacle, that he should become not only the object of celebration, but the celebrant. Hut they do not see the correct signal in his outfit for this reception. He has a further opportunity when he makes a speech. But he does no better in this.
The advantage, so to speak, goes to the writer of the address of welcome presented to Obi.