No Longer at Ease

by Chinua Achebe

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Analyze the character Obi Okonkwo in No Longer at Ease.

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In a character analysis, it is important to explain the character role in the book as well as the character's traits. Obi Okonkwo (who has the full name of Michael Obiajulu Okonkwo) is the main character of No Longer at Ease.  He is vastly different from his ancestor, the Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart. Obi is passive while the elder Okonkwo was active. Obi is full of indecision and constantly at odds with the people and events around him.

Obi is very smart in that he receives a scholarship from the Umuofia Progressive Union. In this way, Obi is able to receive a quality education and even graduate with honors. It is when he returns from London that his troubles begin. Suddenly the European values he has learned clash with the Nigerian values of his homeland. He is discouraged with Lagos and upset that he cannot find the homeland he speaks of in his own poetry. Obi has his own ideas that are not accepted: he studies the humanities instead of law, does not adopt the mannerisms of the educated, and plans to marry a girl who is "osu" (and, therefore, "taboo").

Obi changes throughout the book. At first, Obi shows perseverance in that he gets a job and sticks to it, even when life gets very hard. Obi shows honor in that he works to pay off his loans and help his family financially. Unfortunately, Obi's honor and perseverance do not last. It is sad to see Obi's original morals crumble as the book progresses. Eventually, the public arena wears Obi down. Obi gives in to the corruption and participates in the usual bribes. Unfortunately, Obi turns his resolve into acquiescence.

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