Obi notices that his mother and father are frail from insufficient food and advancing age. He lies in response to his father’s inquiry whether he had read his Bible while abroad. He recalls the loneliness of his strict Christian upbringing: he was never allowed to dine in his neighbors’ homes and never learned the folk stories his mother knew as a child. Obi lies awake calculating how much of his earnings he can afford to give his parents; he has already agreed to pay his younger brother’s school fees. He also wonders why Clara did not want him to tell his parents about their relationship.
At his new job, Obi takes an immediate dislike to his boss, Mr. Green. Once officially appointed, he buys a brand-new Morris Oxford car. He and Clara have drinks at the home of Hon. Sam Okoli, then go out to a celebratory dinner. Clara is upset and they do not touch their food. Clara cries and tells Obi she cannot marry him because she is an osu—a member of an untouchable caste. Obi recounts the story to Joseph, and insists that he will marry Clara despite her status. Joseph is aghast, but his reaction serves only to strengthen Obi’s conviction. The next day he buys Clara an expensive engagement ring and a Bible. Joseph reminds Obi of his special position amongst his people and warns him that his family will not consent to the marriage, but Obi remains confident that he can overcome his mother’s objections.
Joseph accompanies Obi to the meeting of the Umuofia Progressive Union. All are ecstatic when they arrive in Obi’s new pleasure car. Midway into the agenda, Obi rises to speak. He is obligated to repay the union the money it has loaned for his education, but he asks for a fourmonth delay before beginning his repayments. The group grants Obi’s request, yet the president warns him not to fall into bad ways, for he has heard that Obi is involved with ‘‘a girl of doubtful ancestry.’’ Obi becomes enraged, revokes his request, and storms out of the meeting.
Obi works as secretary to the Scholarship Board alongside an English secretary, Marie Tomlinson. Obi is wary of Miss Tomlinson at first, but warms toward her after she expresses genuine delight upon meeting Clara. An Ibo man named Mr. Mark visits Obi in his office. His sister has applied for a scholarship. It becomes clear that he seeks to offer a bribe. Obi sends him away; afterward, he feels victorious. Elsie Mark herself, an attractive girl of about eighteen, appears later at the door of Obi’s apartment, pleading for his help. While they are talking, Clara enters. Obi and Clara drive the girl back to town. After hearing the whole story, Clara says Obi was too hard on Mr. Mark, because offering money is not as bad as offering oneself.
Obi’s annual car insurance payment comes due, and this fact awakens him to the precarious nature of his finances. He obtains an overdraft from the bank and begins to economize in his apartment by removing extra lightbulbs and instructing his steward, Sebastian, to turn off the water heater and refrigerator. When Clara hears about the bank overdraft, she is angry that Obi didn’t think to tell her about his troubles. He says the troubles are not serious, but they part with the matter unresolved.
Obi and Marie discuss Mr. Green. Obi dislikes his boss, but inwardly admires his sense of duty. A small parcel arrives from Clara, containing an apologetic note and fifty pounds in cash. Obi wants her to take back the money, but does not want her to be hurt. Obi and Clara go out dancing with Christopher and his girlfriend, Bisi, until two o’clock in the morning. When Obi and Clara return to his car, they discover that the fifty pounds have been stolen from the glove compartment.