Americanah Chapters 20-22 Summary & Analysis

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah

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Americanah Chapters 20-22 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 20 Summary: 

Ifemelu comes to love living in Baltimore, but struggles to find her place within Curt’s group of “sunny and wealthy” (256) white friends. Despite her years in America, their speech and actions are still not “fully knowable to her” (256). She begins to resent Curt’s spoiled affectations, his ego’s need for “constant buffing, polishing, waxing” (257). Her straightened hair begins to fall out, so she cuts it short, but hates how masculine it makes her look. A friend advises her to go natural, with an Afro. She discovers emails on Curt’s computer, messages in which he flirts with a woman he met at a work conference. Curt apologizes and swears it meant nothing, but Ifemelu leaves. Curt brings her flowers and she takes him back. She decides to wear her hair naturally, and falls “in love with her hair” (264). 

Chapter 21 Summary: 

Aunty Uju calls Ifemelu, once again exasperated by Dike. He has refused to wear a shirt Bartholomew bought him. Ifemelu talks to Dike, advising him to wear the “striped, humorless shirt” (267) to make his mother happy. She brings Curt to meet Uju and Dike that weekend, and Uju is pleased by Curt’s charm and attentiveness. She comments negatively on Ifemelu’s hair (“‘There is something scruffy about natural hair’” (269)) and complains about Dike’s latest school essay, in which he claimed not know his identity. Uju confesses that she is not happy with Bartholomew, who expects her to hand over her paycheck and keep him fed and content. Soon afterwards, Uju leaves Bartholomew and moves to a little town called Willow, which Ifemelu likes. “It sounded to her like freshly squeezed beginnings” (273). 

Chapter 22 Summary: 

One day, while she and Curt are at the mall, they run into Kayode, a friend of Obinze’s from secondary school. He tells her that Obinze has moved to England, but that he asked Kayode to try and find Ifemelu, to make sure she was doing well. Ifemelu is numb, ashamed of what she’s done to Obinze. “There were things scattered inside of her that she…

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