Depiction of America in Americanah Novel

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On pages 164-166 Ifemelu’s first impressions of the American University are explained. In these texts, the author uses words that help audiences discover more powerful meanings of these impressions. Repetition was used heavily throughout these pages, ideas of ease in America, and more specifically school. These ideas of simplicity and engagement were major themes that can reveal a lot about the schooling systems in America, and how the author and Infemelu feels implemented changes are fundamental. These deeper concerns and ideals surface from the repeating of the same thoughts over and over again by different means and positions. Through the strategy of repetition, audiences also come to terms that other schools operate much differently. If Nigerian schools were conducted in the same manner, Infemelu would not comment on such. The author feels that American schools are failing, and student’s engagements can be pointless and unfruitful. Students aren’t being graded on knowledge, rather speaking up about any and everything.

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Ifemelu begins discussing her experiences with the sentence: “school in America was easy; assignments sent in by e-mail, classrooms air-conditioned, progresses willing to give makeup tests” (164). These same ideas of simplicity and underqualification are also found a few sentences down, when Ifemelu claims: “It had to be that Americans were taught, from elementary school, to always say something in class, no matter what” (164). She extends consistent views until the end of page 166, while also including that Americans are indirect and simply state messages that have little meaning in them. In both quotes I have listed above, by close reading techniques, we can understand two primary ideas. One being that other schools value in learning, rather being present in class. And secondly, we learn that although American schools have it easy, they demand less than other schools. Without Ifemelu being from Nigeria, or at least another country, these ideas would not surface. It is through her dual experiences, that we can make such inferences from these repeated ideas produced in these few pages. When Ifemelu brings up air-conditioners, audiences realize that these luxuries are not consistent in all schools, most likely those in Nigeria are lacking such technologies. American’s are granted wonderful environment conditions in their schools, luxuries that many parts of the world do not get to indulge in. However, they produce the most meaningless arguments in discussions, because they are conditioned to do such, as we can assume by the second quote I listed.

So how and why are schooling systems like this in America. The how can be explained in tradition. This has been the way school has been for quite some time now. In America, students are taught that there are no dumb questions, only one that isn’t asked. These ideas directly relate to how this problem has gotten to be. Even in our own university, many teachers do not care what we talk about, as long as we talk in discussions. I can relate with Ifemelu’s experiences, since Saudi Arabia is also similar to Nigeria. The teachers would rather us say nothing, if we have nothing substantial to say. Therefore, we can see patters of how America is different in their educational systems compared to two other countries. The next question is why, why is the system like this, and why does the author use repetition. The system of schooling in the United States is like this because of tradition, and no changes being made. The author uses repetition to showcase that she wants to see changes being made to schools. Often times, we do not see issues of certain problems until an outsider makes comments on it. School should be education and not easy, many families spend lots of money for their children’s education, but this education is fundamentally flawed in numerous ways.

By doing these close readings, audiences can realize the underlying issues of the American schooling system. Ifemelu discusses many issues of education in these three pages, and uses repetition to make one realize such circumstances. As stated above, most Americans are unaware of the flaws and lack of education they receive. It takes an outsiders point of view to show that other countries take learning much seriously, despite their many comebacks. Some have limited food, access to clean water, or air-conditioning, yet they take education more seriousness. Yet, America has all these privileges yet produce the least amount of effort in schooling systems.

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