Americanah Separtion Vs. Connection

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Updated: May 16, 2022
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Americanah is a novel written by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The novel follows the protagonist Ifemelu who is a young Nigerian woman. Ifemelu meets Obinze when she was a teenager at school and quickly the two fell in love. Nigeria was under a strict military dictatorship and because of this, many residents are trying to flee the country. Ifemelu flees to the United States so she can go to college. For the first time in her Ifemelu experiences racism, learning what it means to be a “”black person”” in America.

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Obinze want to reunite with her in the states but was denied a visa due to the events of 9/11. He decides to reside in London as an undocumented immigrant. Several years Obinze returns Nigeria which is now a newly democratic country and becomes a property developer. He becomes a wealthy man from this job while Ifemelu is becoming successful in the US. She becomes very well known as blog writer which tackles her feelings about race in America and how her along with many others have dealt with it. Ifemelu returns to Nigeria and tries to see if her and Obinze should rekindled their love.

This story obviously tackles the theme of racism but there are many underlying themes. One theme this story tackles is separation vs. connection. We see this with Ifemelu and Obinze as they are literally separated from each other. Since they are separated, the connection between them becomes thin because they are both going through very tough situations. The two try to reconnect during their separation from one another tryin to keep their connection alive while bonding over their love for their homeland, and love they still have for each other.

One of one the first times the theme is shown in the novel is in chapter two. Ifemelu emails Obinze congratulating him on his child. She informs him that she is moving back to Nigeria referencing him as “”ceiling,”” a name she has been calling him since they were little. Obinze sits and reflects on their time spent together and how much he misses her. He remembers how he use to get jealous whenever she would mention Blaine, who was a black American that she was dating. Although Obinze responded back to her email, he had a sarcastic tone in the email, and Ifemelu never responded. The fact that Ifemelu calls Obinze “”ceiling”” shows that even though they are separated from each other, the connection never faded. They can still reconnect and bring back memories and feelings. Their feelings are very easy to pick back up no matter how long they haven’t spoken. The two of them are comfortable enough with each other and know that no matter how long it has been, they still have one another. Obinze is jealous that Ifemelu is a married woman, showcasing that his connection to her was special and even though they aren’t together, he cares for her. It also shows the separation of their old life versus their new life. They were connected as kids but grew apart. Their old memories are what keep them connected to each other regardless that they are miles apart.

Another example where connection is shown in the novel is in chapter four on page 73. The first time that Ifemelu and Obinze meet and they flirt with each other. “”She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection…”” This quote shows that from the start, their connection was so strong. It was an indescribable bond that neither of them could explain but didn’t really question. It felt natural and right to them. The rest of the quote says, “”He made her like. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.”” This shows that the relationship made them not only have a connection with each other but with themselves. She knew how to love herself through the peace and comfort that he brought to her. It doesn’t seem crucial now, but it later shows that other relationships they build while they are apart don’t give them that same feeling. Their connection is through their identity and who they are as people and the separation shows that other people don’t fully understand Ifemelu and Obinze like they did with each other.

There is a separation vs. connection in the story that actually has to do with how Ifemelu views the American society. In chapter 31 on page 359, Ifemelu writes on her blog, “”…I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America…”” This quote is referring to the racist problems that she has faced while she resided in America. The quote shows that there is a separation of who you are as a person and your race. It doesn’t matter how she is as a person because it just gets thrown into race. It follows stereotypes as to who she shoud br as a person because of her skin tone. It it’s the separation between “”self”” and “”race.”” American society bonds the two of them together because it sees a connection that a person can only act a certain way due to their skin color. The quote goes on to say, “”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.”” This goes to show that even when she was with Obinze, who they were on the outside did not matter. It is the connection you felt when you are together and how your comfort around each other should be the only things that matter. American society separates those ideas and believes that Ifemelu can’t feel comfortable in her skin because of its color. If Ifemelu doesn’t feel the comfort because she is with a white man, it means that she is insecure and doesn’t love herself. Race was not an issue for her because she did not see race as a connection to who the person is on the inside. She didn’t see color, she saw people, but American society didn’t see that.

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Americanah Separtion vs. Connection. (2020, Apr 16). Retrieved from