Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Summary Study Guide

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America is a deeply racist country and millions of Africans want to go there. Ifemelu, who chose to go to America and stay there for years, and got rich and successful, complained bitterly about racism in America. Not in what Americans said to her, but from what she knew was in their minds. They had racist thoughts. Their magazines had racist pictures of white women. Their lipstick was the wrong color. When white Americans supported African charities, it was out of paternalistic, racist motives. Because of this racism, millions of Africans try to come to America every year.


Nigeria has an ass-licking economy.  As Auntie Uju says: "You know we live in an ass-licking economy. The biggest problem in this country is not corruption. The problem is that there are many qualified people who are not where they are supposed to be because they won't lick anybody's ass, or they don't know which ass to lick or they don't even know how to lick an ass." What Auntie is trying to say here is that the Nigerian economy is "f'ed" up. She says it's not corruption but that's EXACTLY what it is. You have to bribe and kiss up to the right person in government to get anything done. That's not a free market economy. That's a socialist system and exactly why Nigeria's economy is so terrible.

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Prostitutes can make a lot of money in a short time. Ifemelu got $100 just for rubbing a man's dick for a few minutes. Imagine how much she could make in an hour! It boggles the mind.


Other people's shit can make you crazy. When Obinze saw a pile of shit in the bathroom, he freaked out. But surely he has seen his own shit before, many times. But seeing the shit of another person on a toilet seat made him crazy. Maybe it was the knowledge that he was seeing white shit, the shit from a white person, that drove him to desperation.


Men can be manipulated so easily. Ifemelu abandoned Obinze, cut off all communication for years, got boned by a bunch of guys, and then returned to Nigeria and immediately picked up where she had left off with him, and in no time maneuvered him into abandoning his wife and child for her, and got him begging in the process! Some women can really manipulate men to get what they want.


Kids with weird names may suffer psychological harm. It is never explained why "Dike" tried to kill himself but my theory is that his name was so close to "Dyke", the slang term for lesbians, that it did him harm. He was probably teased a lot in school. He never should have been given a name like "Dike" or even "Esbian" or "Tomosexual" but rather would probably have done better with a normal name like Sam or Fred.

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