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Throughout Americanah, Ifemelu and Obinze’s parallel experiences of immigration are used to showcase the various ways in which assimilating to a new culture can produce vast changes in personal identity. In Chapter 17, the phrase “New American Self” is first used to suggest this phenomenon. Particularly through Ifemelu’s experiences in America and observations about fellow immigrants, the reader sees a broad range of “new American selves” and experiences firsthand how American culture can often be unforgiving to those who don’t understand, or abide by, its “tribalisms”.
For your final paper I’m asking you to compose a 6-8 page argument-based essay analyzing the ways in which Ifemelu forms new racial, class, social, and/or gender identities primarily in response to the cultural and social pressures of her immigration(s). A successful essay must both identify what changes take place in Ifemelu’s character (and address if those changes are permanent) and connect this to a larger argument about what is causing these changes. While the core of your paper must be centered on Ifemelu, you are welcome to use and discuss examples from other characters (Uju, Dike, Ginika, etc.) to strengthen your argument.
Since Ifemelu undergoes changes throughout the breadth of the book, successful papers must showcase an understanding of, and utilize examples from, the novel’s entirety. You are welcome to quote from or discuss Ifemelu’s blog posts (as aides your argument) but only in the service of what each post reveals about Ifemelu’s character and her ever-changing understanding of America, Nigeria, and herself.
An interesting, attention-getting introduction that introduces the novel and identifies the major ideas you will be discussing.
A detailed, specific thesis that suggests how Ifemelu changes, why, and to what affect.
Your essay must include a minimum of eight quotations from the story.
Logically organized paragraphs that begin with clear topic sentences. There should also be effective transitions between paragraphs.
A thoughtful conclusion that leaves your readers with a sense of closure.
Throughout Americanah, Ifemelu and Obinze’s parallel experiences of immigration are used to showcase the various ways in which assimilating to a new culture can produce vast changes in personal identity. In Chapter 17, the phrase “New American Self” is first used to suggest this phenomenon.