Americanah Metaphors and Similes

Ifemelu's Relationship with Blaine (Simile)

“Her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out.” (9)

This quote describes Ifemelu's dissatisfaction with her relationship with Blaine. The image of her "sitting by the window and looking out" underscores her yearning for something missing in her relationship and her life, which leads her to return to Nigeria and seek out her old love Obinze.

Three Years Together (Simile)

"They had lived together for three years, three years free of crease, like a smoothly ironed sheet." (8)

This quote also describes Ifemelu's relationship with Blaine, which was perfectly pleasant and even passionate until she somewhat suddenly decides to break things off and return to Nigeria. Adichie's comparison of their relationship to a sheet without a crease implies that it was good but not exciting; it was beautifully domestic but perhaps not made to last.

Ifemelu's Father's English (Metaphor)

"His mannered English bothered her as she got older, because it was a costume." (58)

Ifemelu grows up with a father who constantly uses what he sees as high, educated English to cover up his insecurities for not obtaining higher education. Though this likely molds Ifemelu positively, allowing her to reach the level of intelligence and prowess with English the reader sees in the book, this also makes her sad because it is a "costume" put on by her father to everyone including her. This quote reminds the reader of the importance of language to the book, especially the choices people make about what language(s) they speak and how they speak them.

Ifemelu's Relationship with Obinze (Simile)

"She liked that he wore their relationship so boldly, like a brightly colored shirt... Her joy would become a restless thing flapping its wings inside her, as though looking for an opening to fly away." (76)

In comparison to Ifemelu's similes regarding her relationship with Blaine, her descriptions of her relationship with Obinze are bright, lyrical, and passionate. Furthermore, while in Quote 3 she sees her father wearing language as a "costume" (58), she sees Obinze's "wearing" of their relationship as a positive sign. This difference comes from Obinze "wearing" their relationship out of pride versus her father "wearing" English out of shame.

Friendship (Metaphor)

"Ginika's leaving forced them both to wring out their friendship and lay it out newly fresh to dry, to return to where they used to be." (77)

This metaphor, again using domestic imagery of clothing to pull in the reader, begins to foreshadow the difficultly of someone moving to another country. Specifically, relationships with everyone from their home country will be tested, and not all will survive, as happens to Ifemelu and Obinze while Ifemelu is in the United States.