Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


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Americanah Chapters 11-13 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 11 Summary: 

Uju meets a man named Bartholomew, a divorced accountant. She introduces him to Dike and Ifemelu, who senses that he uses “American affectations, his gonnas and wannas” (142) to mask a rural upbringing. Uju treats Bartholomew like royalty, cooking and cleaning for him. One night, Bartholomew speaks derisively of a girl on TV, claiming a Nigerian girl would never wear a dress so short. Ifemelu corrects him, assuring him that Nigerian girls “‘wear dresses much shorter than that o’” (143). After he leaves, Ifemelu tells Uju he is not right for her, but Uju sees little choice, “tottering under her many anxieties” (145).

Ifemelu visits Manhattan and Brooklyn and thinks of Obinze. Uju’s medical exam results arrive, and she learns she has passed. She makes plan to relax her hair for interviews. Ifemelu gets cabin fever and needs to leave the apartment. She surprises Dike with a trip to Coney Island. Days later, as she departs for college in Philadelphia, Dike cries. Uju has given her the Social Security card and license of a woman who is able to legally work in the US, unlike Ifemelu. The woman looks nothing like her, but Uju assures her that “‘All of us look alike to white people’” (148).

Chapter 12 Summary: 

Ginika meets Ifemelu at the Philadelphia bus terminal. Ifemelu notices that Ginika is “much thinner, half her old size” (149). Ginika gives Ifemelu a tour of the city, pointing out important landmarks, lapsing into dated Nigerian slang, and educating Ifemelu on current American slang. “Half caste” should be replaced by “biracial,” and to be “thin” is a good thing (151). Ginika introduces Ifemelu to her diverse set of friends, and Ifemelu grows self-conscious about how little she knows about beer, language, and music. “Ginika had come to America with the flexibility and fluidness of youth” (152) but Ifemelu feels too old to adapt.

She and Ginika go shopping for clothes, and an incident at a boutique alerts Ifemelu to the fact that Americans go to great lengths to pretend to be colorblind. Ginika offers to let Ifemelu stay…

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