No Longer at Ease

by Chinua Achebe

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Discuss "No Longer at Ease" as a post-colonial novel.

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In Achebe’s novel No Longer at Ease, Obi is not a competitor in a power struggle, but rather is a victim of the struggle caused by colonialism. Ezeulu’s power struggle highlights the dangers of asserting authority where it has not been completely merited, and his selfishness to impose his will on his people ultimately leads to their demise. While the power struggle creates an unstable environment that leaves Ezeulu and the Ibo people more susceptible to external influences, Obi succumbs to the pressures of colonialism ultimately leading to his demise. Both characters find themselves torn between tradition and change, but essentially, Achebe uses the power struggle to illustrate different perspectives of the negative impact colonialism brought to the Igbo people.

Summarily, what Achebe is attempting to portray through the use of a power struggle is the driving force of alienation that colonialism brought to Igboland. Both Obi and Ezeulu find themselves torn between two cultures unable to fully be a part of one or the other. While Ezeulu attempts to lead his people into using Western colonization for the good, his lust for power blinds him and leads him to a tragic end. Obi, on the other hand, has brought back to his homeland Western education. He is quickly alienated from his people through his attempts to live “correctly” according to Western ideals and adhere to the traditions of his people. His willingness to be open to the positive aspects of colonialism makes him an outsider to his homeland. Essentially, the feeling of being alienated leads Obi to accept the bribe that is his demise. Both characters are so uneasy with the impending Westernization that they fall into isolation, making it easier, so to speak, to succumb to colonialism. Through the struggle for power, Achebe successfully demonstrates how colonialism has negatively impacted traditional villages in Nigeria without entirely blaming Westernization. Instead, by closing both novels tragically, Achebe is also recognizing that the Igbo people are also partly to blame by not using the education they were given in a positive regard to the preservation of their people.

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