Parallels Between Ifemelu’s American and Nigerian Experiences

When Ifemelu finally returns to Nigeria, there are immediate parallels between her arrival in America and her journey home. Disappointment is a major factor. One of the first things she noticed about America was that the billboards were matte; she had expected everything to be shiny and bright. She also held many other perceptions that were disproved through her experiences in the United States, like those of quick success and happiness. Upon returning to Nigeria, she is instantly critical of her surroundings. There are potholes in the roads and the homes are falling apart; at first, she can only see the negative. She experiences culture shock when returning to her own culture. Nothing is as she remembers it. Even things as trivial as phone numbers have changed. However, we see her start to embrace Nigeria again, especially with the malts. This slow re-acceptance mirrors the hesitant happiness that she eventually discovered in America.

Another big connection the reader can make in this section is between Ifemelu and Curt’s relationship and Ranyinudo’s relationship with Don, the married CEO. Ifemelu eventually finds success in America through her blog, but before that, all of her happiness and success stemmed from her relationship with Curt. He got her a job, and their relationship changed her. She slipped into the identity of “Curt’s girlfriend” and began to feel entitled because she was with such a privileged man. She relied on him a bit too heavily at times. We see this same relationship dynamic between Ranyinudo and Don. She doesn’t fend for herself; she relies on him to get her a new car and buy her tickets to London. She lives where “things fell from the sky” (481). Without him, she wouldn’t have the same sense of privilege. These relationships also parallel that of Aunty Uju and the General, from much earlier in the novel. Again, she relies on him to provide her with everything she wants and needs. She is not self-sufficient, and the changes she has to make after his death are drastic. We did get to see Aunty Uju and Ifemelu move past those dependent relationships; perhaps Ranyinudo will undergo a similar development.

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One thought on “Parallels Between Ifemelu’s American and Nigerian Experiences

  1. Both parallels that are made in this post are very interesting. I never saw the connection between Ifemelu coming to America and going back to Nigeria. It seems like she is often disappointed by what happens in her life. I also found the two relationships to be very similar as well. It’s very interesting to see that Ifemelu wanted to start off in America by herself and then ended up leaning on a guy like her Auntie Uju.

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