I finally have the time to devote to writing up my thoughts...this is something I have to do in the morning when my brain is 'refreshed'!! I finished this section of reading a week ago so I hope that everything comes back to me (Jennifer, your summary is so helpful !!)
There were several heart tugging situations in this section of reading. Learning that Uju was destitute after the General's sudden death was heartbreaking to me. I also do not have a good feeling about Bartholomew, her new beau in the US. Ifemelu's struggles to find a job and housing are equally as heartbreaking. When she felt desperate enough to take the tennis coach up on his job proposition, I was just gutted but I know she was desperate.
1.This section of reading begins to give us a very close look at the immigration experiences of Ginika, Uju, and Ifemelu. Are any of their experiences relatable for you? If this is a new perspective for you, did you think it would be so very hard for a person newly arrived to America? (Or for any immigrant newly arrived to any country that is not their original home.)
I know that immigration is a very difficult and fraught with stress. I am actually an immigrant to Canada from the US! For me there was not any financial difficulty as my husband came to Canada for a job. Also, we did not have a language barrier to overcome. But there is always lingo and slang that one has to learn. As well as becoming accustomed to the way things are done (Taking off out door shoes at the front door was new to me.) But I am fully aware that immigration to another country without the benefit of knowing the language or having a job or even the fact that the North American countries can be so much more expensive is a huge stressor! Coming to live in one of North America's big urban centres is a giant shock to the pocket book. (This was something we experienced moving to the Vancouver area). I work in a school district that is full of immigrants from a variety of countries. I see children who come from families that appear to be financially comfortable while others it is obvious that the family is struggling with communication and sometimes, heartbreakingly, financially. It is a huge leap of faith or act of desperation for some of these families to move to North America. Many with 'the grass is always greener' perspectives that does not mesh with reality of life here.
5.Do you agree that Uju’s attraction to The General was as simple as her attraction to his power?
6.Has Uju changed during her time in America?
Uju is an interesting character and I am eager to see how she makes it in the US as a doctor. I think that her attraction to The General is his power and wealth that afforded her to live in the gated community. She also relished the status that being his mistress gave her in Nigeria. She lived a comfortable albeit controlled life with him. Her downfall was that she had no financial title to where she lived and no money of her own when the General died. She was fortunate that she still had the ability to locate to the US.
When Ifemelu arrived in the US initially and lived with Uju it strikes me that Uju continues to be strategic. She knows how to work the system (fake SS and name) and does not want Dike to speak Igbo. From her perspective grappling with dual languages would hold him back. It is also her strategy to find a husband stateside. As I stated above I see 'danger danger' around Bartholomew.
7. Does the situation with Cristina Tomas seem accurate? Are people from elsewhere often underestimated, judged, treated poorly/treated as lesser than?
It is horrible but I do think that in some cases it is true that those from abroad - especially those with language barriers - can be underestimated for their intellect and ability. This results in them being treated poorly and often seen as of lesser intellectual ability.
8. Satire can be very tricky in fiction -- do you feel the portrayal of Kimberley and Don, and Laura are satirical?
Yes, I do think that Adichie was working in satire when she introduced these three to us. It will be interesting to see how Ifemelu and Kimberly's relationship is developed by Adichie. Will the character of Kimberly and her husband Don be developed beyond that?
9. Does Adichie do a good job portraying Ifemelu’s desperation in not being able to find a job, and her worry over money?
I think that Adichie does and excellent job in writing of Ifemelu's growing desperation to find work and her financial woes. I found this most heartbreaking.
Jennifer, I appreciate you linking to the 'white saviour complex' article. I read it last night with great interest. I do think that those of us in counties of wealth often do not see the complex and often longstanding political and social issues that are in play in global situations (I am not talking about natural disaster relief here) brought to our attention. We often think that simply giving money, sending books or clothes or helping build new schools for a week is enough. Our intentions are well meant and we truely do want to help however there is usually so much more at play...historical/political/economic factors...that mere 'bandaids' can't fix. It is not that we shouldn't do these things. I just think we need to be aware that fixing things for others does not give them agency of their own.
This translates to assisting immigrants find their footing in North America. It recalls to mind something happening here in Vancouver with some of the Syrian refugee women that have recently moved here. They have been supported in starting pop-up dinner parties and they have been amazingly successful.