No Longer at Ease

No longer at ease empathetically echoes the tension between African tradition and western influence

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Achebe contrasts white and black culture in his novels. Here, white, English culture is depicted as soulless, deadening, immoral, and Nigerian culture is depicted as authentic, uplifting, and sustaining. Drinking, sex, dancing, and bribery are all associated with the white man's world, and the white neighborhood where Obi lives in Lagos is compared to a graveyard. Obi and his father love the written word of the whites, which, as symbolized by mounds of paper, is full of sound and fury. Nigerian culture is associated with a valuing of the past, communal support, tradition, and loyalty. However, for all of his touting of the values of Nigerian culture, Achebe does acknowledge that it is very much mired in the past and cannot yet evolve; Joseph calls himself and Obi "pioneers", and Obi realizes how ridiculous it is to either pay for a wife or be denied marriage to a wife of one's choosing. Obi is caught between two cultures, wherein lie his difficulties.