Theme Of Race And Identity In Adichie's Americanah

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Americanah is an exceptional novel about race and identity. Adichie digs deep to inspect the racial hierarchies that are present in the United States through her main character Ifemelu. In addition to race, Adichie explores the notion of identity and how a person can hold multiple idnetites throughout their lifetime. Adichie does not shy away from scrutinizing the structures and ideologies that society has in place. Adichie uses theoretical concepts such as hegemony, discourse, and performance to illustrate that the central themes of race and identity in her novel, Americanah, are intrinsically linked.

In Americanah, while Ifemelu and Obinze are growing up in Nigeria, they are confident in who they are. However, as they both leave for America
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One of the most prevalent hegemonic ideology that occurred throughout the book was the idea that British English is more valuable than Nigerian English. In the book, discourse is illustrated by Nigerian parents wanting to enrol their children in schools that teach the British curriculum rather than enrol their children in a school that teaches the Nigerian curriculum. As a result, these parents are reproducing the hegemonic ideology that British English is better than Nigerian English. It is important to realize that through these interactions people allow their own domination to take place, however, the Nigerian parents fail to understand this. They do not recognize that they are allowing their own domination to take place because they want the best for their children and rightfully so. Once their children attend the school that teaches the British curriculum, they will also reproduce these hegemonic ideologies. As seen in the previous example, race plays a major role in why these parents prefer the British curriculum over the Nigerian curriculum. The white man’s invention will always be seen as remarkable compared to the black man’s invention. Hence, race and identity work together to reproduce hegemonic…show more content…
When Ifemelu first arrives to her university to register the lady behind the desk, Cristina Tomas, speaks to her in a very slow manner. Cristina is talking to Ifemelu like this due to “her foreign accent” (Adichie 2013: 163). And when Ifemelu lets Cristina know that she can also speak English, Cristina responds with “I just didn’t know how well” (Adichie 2013: 163). Although, Ifemelu can speak English with a Nigerian accent, Cristina does not view her as a competent speaker of English because she does not speak it with an American accent. It is evident that Ifemelu is a competent speaker of English because she has been speaking it her entire life. Also, speaking English with an American accent does not necessarily make you a competent speaker of English. However, Cristina does not think so because she notices Ifemelu’s skin colour before she gives Ifemelu a chance to speak. Society automatically assumes that an individual will not be able to perform competently in English due to the colour of their skin. Therefore, people do not attempt to look past race to understand that English can play a vital role in forming an individual’s

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