Americanah Chapters 1-2 Summary & Analysis

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah

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Americanah Chapters 1-2 Summary & Analysis

Part 1: 

Chapter 1 Summary: 

Ifemelu, a young Nigerian-born woman who has lived in the US for years, travels from Princeton, New Jersey, where she lives, to Trenton, a nearby city with a large black population. She is going to get her hair braided in preparation for her return to Nigeria, and wonders “why there was no place where she could braid her hair” (4) in Princeton. She watches the other passengers at the train station and wonders what each of them would make of her blog, which explores race in America from an outsider’s perspective. She thinks about her upcoming trip to Nigeria and her recent breakup with her long-term boyfriend, a black American named Blaine.

At the braiding salon, she haggles with the owner and tries to avoid smalltalk with Aisha, an African hairdresser, who is surprised that Ifemelu wants to return Nigeria and urges Ifemelu to convince Aisha’s Nigerian boyfriend that he can marry Aisha, despite their different tribal affiliations. Ifemelu thinks of Obinze, a former boyfriend, and how he will react to her return. She has sent him an email informing him of her return, but has not heard back

Chapter 2 Summary: 

The perspective switches to Obinze, Ifemelu’s former boyfriend. Obinze lives in Nigeria, where he is a married, wealthy businessman. He reads Ifemelu’s email, unsure of how to respond. He remembers their teenage relationship, the way she nicknamed him “Ceiling” after the part of the house she no longer saw as they explored each other’s bodies. Obinze and Kosi, his wife, attend a party at Chief’s house. Chief is the man who took Obinze under his wing and allowed him to build a business and become rich. At the party, Kosi debates the merits of American vs. British schools with other party guests, but Obinze’s thoughts turn towards Ifemelu once again.

He and Kosi arrive home and the maid cooks them dinner. Obinze remembers how cruelly Kosi dismissed their last maid, who assumed that she would be required to sexually service Obinze. Kosi asked how Obinze could feel sorry for the girl. “How can you…

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