In my opinion, her relationship with Obinze not only affected Ifemelu towards the end of the novel, but throughout the entire relationship regarding her coming of age. Obinze made Ifemelu feel different than most characters, unlike her other relationships, Obinze was her only true love in the novel. With him, she felt secure, appreciated, and cared for. However, Obinze towards the end of the novel already has settled down with a family. In my opinion, this made Ifemelu desire him more, and secretly brought upon jealous feelings. These feelings surfaced especially when Obinze claimed that he was happy to laugh again and enjoy himself in Ifemelu’s presence. After he made this comment, Ifemelu thought about how his wife must be incapable of such, and thought about these ideas for longer than necessary.
We can tell at this point, that she regrets ignoring Obinze, and that she wishes she was his wife and so forth. These jealous feelings and realizations somewhat hinder her coming of age in my opinion. Because, when someone truly loves another, they should not be jealous. Although, one could certainly argue that Obinze is not genuinely happy, rather content with his wife. Deep down, it is logical to believe, that he would much rather be with Ifemelu as well. He certainly appears to be spending much more time, and enjoying himself way more with Ifemelu. I feel that towards the end of the novel, when the two reconnect, Ifemelu takes a few steps back because of Obinze. She quits her job, and doesn’t seem to be herself entirely. She isn’t as concerned with the things she once was, such as her family, who she contacts less towards the end. Her health concerns vanish, and her mind is as fluttered.
Her overall return to Nigeria certainly plays a role in Ifemelu’s coming of age as well. Not only mentally, but physically too. Obinze and many other commented on how her beauty and body has changed, she filled out her womanly body when returning. But most noteworthy, was her change in mental state. In America, Ifemelu was so concerned with how she looked, and pleasing others, however, this all changed when she entered back to Nigeria. When family and friends would comment on her body, she appeared to be disturbed, and ignored their comments. Ifemelu learned that the way she looks is not as important as who she is. Another example of this idea, is when she is thinking about her aunt who works for the magazine company. When she meets Ifemelu she claimed that she was prettier than she had imagined. And Ifemelu thought that being pretty may have been a qualification for the job or something. Ifemelu was not concerned with her looks quite as much as she was in America. Whether she felt less inclined to or not, being back home and all. We can see her coming of age through this aspect significantly.
Ifemelu was not worried about pleasing others as much when she came back, she was more concerned about pleasing herself, and doing what she really wanted. We see this is several aspects, especially when she leaves her job, despite her aunt being mad or judgmental about it. While working there, she tried very hard to represent stories that interested her, rather than the rest, although she was no permitted to do so, she at least put forth some effort. The only person she really tries to please is Obinze. She does this in several ways, whether it be her trying to lose weight before they meet, or her not asking for his help with finding her a flat. She also claimed she needed no money for investments from him. She does all this to appear as an independent woman, when, she probably could have taken some money for help. In a sense, Obinze isn’t negatively affecting her maturity, or coming of age, however, she does. Her deep love for Obinze sort of dazes her and sets her back from accomplishing what she wants. However, in a sense I think it also strengthens and empowers her as well. This is true, because love can work wonders on people and encourage them to be the best versions of themselves.