No Longer at Ease

Obi’s Parents and Their Reluctance to Accept Obi’s Engagement to Clara 11th Grade

“Osu is like leprosy in the minds of our people.”

When Obi makes the decision to marry Clara, an osu, both the Umoufian community, and his parents strongly oppose this marriage, as it is a union which will bring suffering to all of Obi’s future descendants. This conflict causes Obi’s familial relationships to crumble, which serves as one of the factors leading up to his final descent into corruption, the most notable relationship being that of the one between Obi and his mother. Achebe uses this to show readers the prominent role of culture in the life of Nigerians, that an individual whose ancestors had been devoted to the gods would be shunned and alienated from society.

The reaction of Obi’s parents towards his engagement to Clara is logical and understandable. Marrying Clara would cause Obi’s children and future descendants to become outcasts in the Nigerian society. Obi’s father even points out that osu is “like leprosy”, emphasising the social stigma surrounding people possessing the label. By marrying Clara, Obi will be dooming all of his future children. The fact that Obi is his parents’ only son makes this decision even more significant, as he is the only hope of continuing the Okonkwo family, and his actions would...

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