Clara leaves the hospital after five weeks and departs from Lagos without seeing Obi. A messenger brings Obi a telegram bearing news that his mother has died. His grief is deep, yet he decides not to travel to Umuofia for the funeral, but merely to send money. The Umuofia Progressive Union finds that Hannah Okonkwo’s funeral was cheaper than she deserved, and Obi is roundly criticized for skipping it. One man reminds the group that Obi’s father did the same when his father died. Nevertheless, a contingent of Obi’s kinsmen from Umuofia pay him a condolence call at his flat. All are embarrassed when one of them tells a story about a tortoise who seeks to avoid his mother’s funeral.
After a period of sadness and guilt, Obi comes to feel a strange sort of inner peace. His ideals and illusions have passed away, leaving his heart lighter. As scholarship season arrives, Obi accepts a bribe for the first time. More bribe money comes his way, allowing him to pay off his debts. When a young woman comes to see him seeking a scholarship, he accepts her advances. One day, after a man has left him twenty pounds, Obi feels he can no longer stand it. A moment later, he is caught and placed under arrest.
Sara Constantakis, Novels for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Novels – Chinua Achebe, Volume 33, Gale-Cengage Learning, 2010