Americanah Chapters 17-19 Summary & Analysis

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah

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Americanah Chapters 17-19 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 17 Summary: 

Ifemelu gets a call from a telemarketer selling cheap rates for long distance phone calls. The man thinks London is in France, but praises Ifemelu for her lack of a Nigerian accent. “You sound totally American’” (215). Ifemelu decides to speak in her natural accent once more. On a train ride to see Dike and Uju, she meets Blaine, an “earnest” (217) black American professor who works at Yale. They are clearly attracted to each other, and Ifemelu fantasizes about their potential life together. They spend the train ride discussing the differences between black American and African cultures and split two beers. They exchange numbers, and Ifemelu calls him days later, but he never responds.

Ifemelu visits Uju and Dike in Massachusetts. Uju shares various tales of the racism she has encountered living in a very white town. She then announces that she is trying for a child with Bartholomew. After Dike arrives home from camp, he tells Ifemelu that his counselor denied him sunscreen, saying he was too dark to need it. Ifemelu promises that he does need sunscreen and that she’ll get him some. “‘I just want to be regular’” (227), he says. . 

Chapter 18 Summary: 

Back in the braiding salon, a new customer and a hairdresser discuss the merits of picking up an American accent. The African hairdresser’s son used to get beaten up at school, but an American accent changed that. A young white woman enters the salon. Her name is Kelsey, and she wants Bo Derek braids. She is “aggressively friendly” (232), interrupting Ifemelu, who is reading a book. They discuss books about Africa, but Ifemelu takes issue with Kelsey’s interpretation of A Bend in the River, correcting her with “a mini-lecture” (234). Kelsey responds that she can understand why Ifemelu would have that interpretation, as though she was “miraculously neutral in how she read books” (234). Kelsey receives her braids, surprised that black women use extensions rather than their own hair, and leaves.

Ifemelu thinks back on her relationship with Curt, Kim’s white cousin. She and Curt meet when he…

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