Chapter 13 to 15 Summary of We Need New Names

One day, Darling tells Aunt Fostalina that she wants to go home and visit her friends, but she pays no attention.

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We Need New Names Hardcover
We Need New Names Hardcover
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Chapter 13 Summary: “Angel”

One day, Darling tells Aunt Fostalina that she wants to go home and visit her friends, but she pays no attention. Darling laughs with joy while eating a guava that Messenger has brought her when she recently came to America. When she left, Darling had promised to write all the time, but after a few months the communication died out. Even at first, she was not entirely truthful with them, only telling them good things about America.

Aunt Fostalina tells Darling that she can’t go home because it’s too expensive and her visa has expired, which means if she leaves, then she cannot come back to America. Darling looks out the upstairs window at the cemetery across the road, where there are sculptures of angels and lots of large gravestones. Darling compares this to Heavenway, the cemetery in Paradise, where you were just buried under “a mound of red earth” with no marker.

Darling talks about the two homes in her head – her home before Paradise and her home in Paradise. She says there are three homes in her mother’s and Aunt Fostalina’s heads – their homes before independence, their homes after independence, and then the homes after the problems, in Paradise and in America.

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Darling has quickly eaten all of her Zimbabwean guavas and mourns the amount of time it may be before she has another. She hears Aunt Fostalina trying to order a bra in the other room, but the saleswoman on the other end of the phone has trouble understanding Aunt Fostalina’s pronunciation of the word “angel.” Darling empathizes with this, telling the reader about how it feels to stumble through English and about the way she has improved her English by watching television and growing her vocabulary of specifically American words. Aunt Fostalina refuses to order online, so she is forced to spell out the word for the woman on the phone and then immediately after hanging up, she calls a few of her friends just to have someone to tell the story to in her own language. Finally, she goes downstairs, slamming the door behind her, and Darling knows she is going to practice the entire conversation again in the mirror.

Chapter 14 Summary: “This Film Contains Some Disturbing Images”

Darling grows up further and makes two close female friends: Marina and Kristal. Marina is from Nigeria and Kristal is from America, but Darling comments that “she can’t even write a sentence correctly in English to show that she is indeed American.”

After school, the girls often rush home to watch porn together. They have been watching in alphabetical order, and today they watch a film in which a robber breaks into a house and has sex with an older woman. When they get to “the real action,” they always mute the film and make the noises themselves. The film ends and the girls discuss how men sit on a toilet; upstairs, the phone is ringing, and Kristal tells Darling to stop ignoring it. When Darling sees the caller ID, she realizes it is someone from home and she starts to worry. Recently, people have been calling with bad news about police and deaths, and if not, then they always call to ask for money. When she picks up the phone, it’s Mother. Her mother scolds her for not calling more frequently and laughs at her for “trying to sound white.” Mother asks if Darling gave Aunt Fostalina her message, which was to ask for money to buy a satellite dish, and Darling lies and says yes.

Mother then puts Darling’s friends on the phone which makes her feel dizzy. They ask her questions about America, talking over one another. Godknows tells her that he’s going to live in Dubai and then Bastard gets control of the phone, telling her “You know you are lucky, Darling,” and finally Chipo wears Darling out by asking questions about what she sees and telling her about the things she sees, including her daughter.

Darling starts to sing a song that they used to sing when it was windy outside and Stina gets on the phone and tells her that Chipo was just singing the same song when going outside to get her daughter, who is also named Darling. A package comes and Darling tells Stina to wait, knowing she will not go back to the phone. After she gets the package, she goes back downstairs to find her friends have skipped ahead in the alphabetical listing and are watching “she-male” porn now. This video makes them feel uncomfortable. When the video ends, Kristal and Darling do not look at each other or say anything.

We Need New Names
Front cover of We Need New Names

Chapter 15 Summary: “Hitting Crossroads”

Kristal is not old enough to have a driver’s license, but she decides to drive Marina and Darling to Crossroads Mall anyway. Darling is very nervous at first, but Kristal drives competently enough so that they all relax and start to have fun. Darling tells the reader that the reason they are out of school is that someone brought a gun to school that morning, so they sent all the student’s home.

They drive through town listening to Rihanna and then, suddenly, they hear a police siren. The girls are terrified and Kristal pulls over to the side and parks, but the police car speeds past in pursuit of something else. Once they have realized what has happened, the girls laugh and laugh and then get back on the road.

Darling is so excited that she starts to sing a song from her childhood at the top of her lungs, thinking of her old school and her old friends before they all went to Paradise. Her friends tell her to stop, insulting her by saying that she isn’t singing English, and Darling retorts that Kristal can’t speak English. Kristal goes quiet and Marina high-fives Darling, but then Kristal replies that “it’s called Ebonics and it be a language system, but it be our own.” Kristal accuses the other girls of “trynna sound like stupid white folk” and then Marina and Darling turn against each other when Darling and Kristal start to talk about the way Nigerians speak and send scams over email.

The girls get to the mall and Darling spots a Lamborghini Reventon and again starts to yell, forgetting where she is. Marina pulls her away, telling her that the car costs millions of dollars, which shocks Darling because she had thought, when she was younger, that she could own that car when she went to America.

In the book store in the mall, Darling gets lost in thought and her friends go on without her. They go upstairs to the electronics store and Darling finds a DVD where Morgan Freeman is playing Nelson Mandela, which makes her feel proud. The girls go over to a jewelry store next and debate the merits of expensive watches and rings.

Finally, at JC Penney, they take heaps of clothing with them into the dressing rooms and play a game where they dress up for different occasions. After a while, another woman comes in to try some clothes on and the girls decide to leave the mall, leaving a mess of clothes behind. They race back to the car, staring openly at a woman wearing a hijab in the parking lot. As they stare, Kristal brings up the kid who brought a gun to school, but then she doesn’t say anything further and they wave at the woman until she drives away.

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