It’s The End of The World As We Know It: Or, At Least, the End of Americanah

“‘Ceiling,’ she said, finally. ‘Come in.’ (588).

That’s it. That’s the final sentence, the famous last words, of Adichie’s Americanah. To summarize my opinion on the ending: Underwhelming. Anticlimactic, to put it in fancier words. Overall, the book was alright, a good read, but when looking at just the ending, I feel unsatisfied. Here’s why.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie by Beowulf Sheehan
Source: https://thedinglehopper.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/why-i-appreciate-the-ending-of-americanah/

Adichie has a very interesting way of writing. I enjoyed her writing style, the casualness of it, and it made reading the book all the more enjoyable. Her presentation of ideas was also well developed and creative, specifically with the medium of blogging (that I mention in an earlier piece). I think she handles the issue of race in America extremely well and the story overall has opened me up to new opinions and concepts that I was previously unaware of. I liked some of the characteristics she displayed in her characters, though there wasn’t really a character that I was dedicated to or cared about completely other than Dike. Originally, Ifemelu had seemed like a very likable character but as the novel came to a close, I just lost interest in caring about her situation.

Obinze was the same way. But in saying that, that carelessness isn’t coming from their choice to get back together. In the end, I could really care less whether or not they got back together. I just felt that Adichie began with such round and interesting characters that seemed to sort of fall flat towards the end. Ifemelu’s choice to move back to Nigeria does open her up to a whole crop of new experiences and while scenes like the Nigerpolitan Club held my interest, others like her meetings with Obinze and her new blog in Lagos didn’t. I felt like her character was lost in the doubling back to rekindle the Obinze and Ifemelu relationship.

But, like I’d said earlier, my issue it not with the pair getting back together, it’s with all of the unanswered questions Adichie left for me as a reader. What happens to Dike? Wasn’t Ifemelu technically dating Fred? What happened to him? Does her Lagos blog gain as much traction as her blog in America? Does Obinze plan to continue taking care of his daughter despite ending his marriage with Kosi? Whatever happens to Rayinudo and her boyfriend situation? What about Aunty Uju, how is she doing? Or even Curt and Blaine, why bring them up last minute and do nothing with it? I think what I was looking for were nice neat little bows that had seemingly been promised earlier on in the books and was left hung out to dry. The ending was just so muddled that I felt as if I got no closure.

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Source: https://www.amazon.com/Americanah-Spanish-Chimamanda-Ngozi-Adichie/dp/607312385X

Like, tying back to Ifemelu calling Obinze a ‘fucking coward’ over text. While I do understand the surge of emotions she was feeling, at the same time, I feel like I’m missing her actual justification for why she got so upset. I realize why she would’ve been upset but I would’ve liked to see more of her personal insight on the semi-ending of the fling with Obinze (the second time). I also would’ve liked to see how to handled taking Obinze back, if she would’ve just welcomed him with open arms like the ending suggests or if she would’ve wanted to take things slower. And what about the comment Obinze made when he said it seemed like Ifemelu had become someone he didn’t recognize, could that possibly resurface in their new relationship? The ending felt almost like it was more from an outside perspective than Ifemelu’s, so getting a nice little conclusion paragraph from her probably would’ve been more satisfying than a monologue from Obinze and a short response from her. After everything I’ve been through with Obinze, I expected a bit more than three short words.

In the end, I have no problem with Americanah. It built me up and didn’t quite deliver but that doesn’t take away from all of the successes Adichie had in her compelling story, complex characters, and discussions on race.

That’s it.

 

People Who Only Talk About Themselves and the People Who Encourage Them: I Stopped Listening a Long Time Ago

It’s not about you. For once, it’s not about you.” (445).

When Adichie first introduced Shan, the sister of Ifemelu’s now ex-boyfriend, Blaine, I disliked her immediately. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone is so self absorbed that they can only talk about or listen to things that directly affect them. And in Shan’s case, that is very obviously evident in her behavior and her dialogue. But then, Adichie takes it a step further by demonstrating that every other character is just as enamored with Shan as she is with herself. That’s the moment where I immediately stopped caring about her in any way.

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Source: https://dkzstslcvgwbc.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/inline_image/talkative-duct-tape-solution.jpg

As someone who actually listens to people when they speak, I find it almost impossible to put up with people who only care to discuss themselves and disregard comments or additions to the conversation made by anyone else. I have found myself forming friendships with people like this and I can assure you, knowing you’re being ignored is one of the worst feelings in the world. Ifemelu doesn’t strike me as a character who would be easily ignored. She is very open about her opinions on things and is welcome to criticism from her online readers as well as healthy debates, so when I realized the vanity behind Shan, I assumed Ifemelu would, in no way, put up with her. So imagine my surprise when Ifemelu doesn’t immediately put Shan in her place during their first meeting.

That ties into Adichie choice to characterize how other characters respond in Shan in the way she did. I think because of how “confident” Shan was in her vanity, Adichie was able to manipulate Shan into becoming almost an icon for Ifemelu upon their first meeting. Ifemelu recognizes that Shan is full of herself and worshiped by everyone else and yet she falls right along in the worshiping. Because of this, Shan almost represents who Ifemelu would want to be, what with her success and confidence and the positivie attention she receives from others. Also, disliking Shan would cause a divide in the relationship between Blaine and Ifemelu, something Ifemelu seems determined to hold on to.

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Source: https://www.paperplatesblog.com/blog/americanah-by-chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-book-club-discussion-and-menu

Shan also acts as a foil to Ifemelu’s character because the audience is able to see a change in Ifemelu through how she to reacts to Shan. Originally we’re given the “blind worshiping” which then transitions to Ifemelu wanting to speak out against certain things that Shan says and finding Blaine’s devotion to her irritating and then finally with the quote mentioned above where Ifemelu is flat out fed up with Shan in the way I was when first introduced to her character. Overall, while Shan is irritating as all get out, I do understand why she would be necessary to the story as well as how she impacts Ifemelu’s character.

That’s it for now.