There have been many relationships throughout the book, mainly revolving between Ifemelu and Aunty Uju. In one of my previous posts I briefly talked about Aunty Uju’s relationships, so in this post I’m going to focus on Ifemelu and her relationships with Obinze, Curt, and Blaine.
First was Obinze. The one that could be called Ifemelu’s “love of her life”, although it makes us wonder how could someone just ghost the love of their life? Well, the answer is America. Their relationships started in Nigeria where they hit it off at a party. Obinze was actually supposed to like Ifemelu’s best friend Ginika, but he fell for Ifemelu instead. A true love story. Obinze was the kind of man to love Ifemelu for everything that made her, her. He admired her strong will, independence, and crave for knowledge. Their bond, it seemed, was indestructible.
Even when Ifemelu first moved to America and their relationship was first put to the long-distance test, they were still strongly connected. As time passed, Ifemelu struggled to make it in America. She became depressed and lost hope. She stopped responding to Obinze because she felt unworthy of his love. Her human nature caused her to cut off communication because she felt it more important to be successful than focus on her relationship. America did this to her.
The struggles she encountered in America wore her down until she had no energy left. After she worked to build herself back up and become successful, she felt it was too late. Many years later though, both of them still know the great love they once shared and long for it because it it rooted in their home country, filled with Nigerian love and tradition they both miss.
Curt was, in my opinion, the polar opposite of Ifemelu. He was always too quick to make decisions for Ifemelu and he never understood the challenges she faced in America. Even from the beginning of their relationship, Curt just assumed she was in love with him, adding to his enormous ego. Coming out of her relationship with Obinze and struggling to make it in America lead her to Curt. He could provide with her what she needed and it really did seem like he cared for her. This relationship reminds me a lot of Aunty Uju and the general. Over time Ifemelu realized what Curt had taken from her, her independence. This is what caused her to purposefully break up their relationship.
Last but not least, Blaine. Their relationship starts out great, as they both discuss race and its role in America. Over time, however, Ifemelu realizes she does not fit in with Blaine or his friends. She becomes fed up with their criticisms, and they appear as a close-minded and elitist group with whom she doesn’t want to associate with. It is understandable she would want to end their relationship, as the only thing connecting them towards the end was their mutual love for Barack Obama.