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half of a yellow sun

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Alexis Jones

on 14 December 2015

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Transcript of half of a yellow sun

Chimamanda Adichie
Chimamanda adichie (CHI-MA-MAN-Dah Ah-dee- chie) was born and raised in Nigeria by her mother and father. She studied pharmacy and medicine at the University of Nigeria. She has a master's degree in creative writing from John's Hopkins University, was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University, and has a MA in african American studies from Yale University. She is also the author of Purple Hibiscus, also a internationally successful novel.
Adichie has a strong connection with the Bifrian war because she lost both of her grandfathers as a result of the fighting. She dedicates her book to her grandfathers that did not survive the war and her grandmothers who told their stories.
Primary characters
Secondary Characters
the author
Post- colonial Trauma Theory
Post colonial society
trauma theory
the theory
Professor of Literature at the University of Nigeria. referred to by Olanna's family as her 'revolutionary lover."He is an educated, outspoken, black man, who sometimes tries to hide the fact that he comes from a village himself. His interpretation of the war as it develops is important because he can recognize the problem and is outspoken in his disapproval of the post-colonial society and the discrimination of Igbo people. He is not a character that has his own perspective in the book, but he always speaks his mind, so a chapter from his point of view is not necessary.

She is in a relationship with Odenigbo from chapter two continuing on to the end of the book. She is often described as a beautiful woman with an oval face and smooth skin. she comes from a very wealthy family who do not like Odenigbo. Olanna has been educated in London, but the college she attended is unclear. At the start of the book she is just returning to Nigeria and starts to teach at the University of Nigeria with Odenigbo before continuing their relationship.
This is the time after a country gains its independence. In this case, it is after Nigeria is given its independence from Britain.
However, the new government is full of corruption and is still under heavy influence of Europeans.
The British character, Richard, comments about this, "They were mostly English, ex-colonial administrators and business people from John Holt and Kingsway....They were reddened from the sun and alcohol. They chuckled about how the tribal Nigerian Politics was, and perhaps these people were not quite so ready to lead themselves after all" (Adichie 66).
Odenigbo views the new independence from a more nationalist view, saying that the British were not wrong in giving Nigeria its independence, but that they put the wrong people in power ( Adichie 75).
He is the house boy of Olanna and Odenigbo. He represents the "uncivilized" part of Nigeria because he is from a small village and is thrust into this more civilized world. when he first comes to live at Master's (Odenigbo's) house, he is confused and delighted of the technology in the house. This first introduction to Ugwa helps the reader to understand the two different sections of reality that colonization has brought to Nigeria. When he first arrives to the University, to the life of village, "Ugwa turned off the tap, turned it on again, then off. On and off and on and off until he was laughing at the magic of the running water and the chicken and bread that lay balmy in his stomach" (Adichie 7). just the simplicity of running water entices him and helps the reader to understand just how little he has had.
Ugwa is also the most transformational characters. when he arrives in Nsukka, he is 13 years old. When the war ends, he is in his in his late teens. As a young man he experiences the trauma of war- starvation, fighting for his country, fear for his life and the lives of those he loves, and the loss of some of his own humanity.
Freud (1926d, p. 166) relates it to the concept of a ‘danger-situation’ that is ‘guided by the actual experiences’ one has undergone, and that allows for an anticipation of the trauma (Zepf 333)
This is saying that actual experiences contribute to the overall destruction and morphing of their identities.
the trauma of war was not just felt by the characters, but it is also a reflection of Adichie's own trauma from losing her grandparents."Adichie is involved in the trauma of her parents and grandparents, who were traumatized directly by the events of the Nigeria-Biafra War. Adichie inherited their trauma, and this novel is her interpretation of their past, and of her own trauma" (May 34)
She is Olanna's half sister and is a very cynical woman. She is always described as being very beautiful, but she is often seen as cold and distant. Yet, she is also confident in herself and her business. the relationship between her and her sister was strained before the book began, and got worse after Olanna slept with Richard, Kainene's lover.
Even though Kainene comes off as a harsh person, in reality she has a strong compassion and kindness about her. When the killings of the Igbo people first started, she helped her friend Madu, escape persecution before he went to join the Biafran army. She opened her house up to refugees, including her twin, during the last year of the war. She even risked her life by trying to trade with Nigerians for food at the end of the book.
Kainene keeps the majority of her thoughts to herself, only saying the blunt and uncomfortable truths in any company. She does not have her own chapters where the reader can see the war through her eyes; yet, she is always there as a back round thought to Olanna and Richard.
Richard originally came to Nigeria to write. when he is first inroduced, he is living with his girlfriend Susan, also white, in Lagos. At one party he is introduced to Kianene and finds her extremely captivating. they eventually have an affair, and from chapter 3 until the end of the book they are together.
The British writer turned Igbo lover. Richard is, in a way, almost as naive as Ugwa in the ways of Nigerian culture. He does not have the close-minded attitude of a conquerors that many other white people have, but he has much to learn about the ways about Nigeria.
From the beginning, Richard is captivated with Igbo culture, and language. He learns the language from Ugwa, goes to different village parades, and festivals, and tries to immerse himself in Igbo life. But from the beginning of the book until the end, he is a character that the reader cannot always relate to. The Biafran war seems not to touch him, he is just a witness to the horror around him because if any British citizens are killed, Britain would become involved militarily.
Historical Context

• The novel takes place in Nigeria which was never really one homogeneous country due to its widely differing people and tribes
•The British colonized Nigeria in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, setting up administrative structures and law while recognizing traditional chiefs
• Nigeria existed as a number of independent and sometimes hostile national states with linguistic and cultural differences until the early 1900s
• The building of Nigeria as a multi - national state by the British government began with the creation of Northern and Southern Protectorates along with the colony of Lagos, which 6 years later was amalgamated to become the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria
• The British government decided to keep the country united as one in order to effectively control the vital resources for their economic interests
• For administrative convenience Northern and Southern Nigeria were further amalgamated in 1914. The only thing these people had in common was the name of their country since each side had different administrative setups. This alone was an insufficient basis for true unity.
• Under normal circumstances the amalgamation ought to have brought the various peoples together and provided a firm basis for establishing closer cultural, social, religious, and linguistic ties, but instead there was division, hatred, rivalry, and pronounced differences that were created

meaning; God's Gold
The love child of Odenigbo. He was tricked into sleeping with a girl from his mother's village, and Baby was the product of that indiscretion. Olanna decides to keep baby because she cannot/does not have children by Odenigbo. The choice to keep Baby seemed irrational, but it solidifies Olanna's and Odenigbo's relationship by making them a family- however unconventional. They decide to call her Baby until they can agree to a name for her. Toward the end of the book, they decide on Chiamaka.

Odenigbo's mother is always referred to as momma (mother). She is a village woman, and is dismissed by her son. When she has fits against Olanna, he says, "You can see my mother doesn't know what she's doing. She's just a village woman. She's trying to make her way in a new world with skills more suited for the old one" (Adichie 128). She is overlooked because of her more "barbaric" ways
The Rising Sun
the Book
Political Context
• In January 1966, a group of primarily eastern Igbo led a military coup during which 30 political leaders including Nigeria's Prime Minister and the Northern premier were killed
• In July 1966 northern officers and army units staged a counter-coup, where General Yakubu "Jack" Gowon, as the head of the Federal Military Government (FMG). The two coups deepened Nigeria's ethnic tensions. In September 1966, approximately 30,000 Igbo were killed in the north
• Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, proclaimed Eastern Nigeria as an independent sovereign state, named "The Republic of Biafra". Since the federal and eastern governments failed to reconcile, the Eastern region voted to secede from Nigeria
• On July 1967, the FMG launched "police measures" to take over the Eastern Region, which their efforts were initially unsuccessful, but by October 1967, they had regained the land after intense fighting
• Later in October 1969, Ojukwu appealed to the United Nations to mediate a cease-fire and the federal government called for Biafra's surrender. In December, the FMG managed to cut Biafra in half, which caused Ojukwu to flee, leaving his chief of staff, Philip Effiong, to act as the government officer. Effiong called for a cease-fire on January 12th and submitted to the FMG
• More than one million people had died in battle or from starvation, and Biafra was immersed into Nigeria

The Biafran War
(6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970)

• The culture of Nigeria is shaped by Nigeria's multiple ethnic groups. The country has over 50 languages and over 250 dialects and ethnic groups

• Nigeria is famous for its English language literature, apart from the 'pure' English speaking population, roughly a third of Nigeria's population speaks Pidgin English which is a simplified form of the language

• The three largest ethnic groups are the Hausa-Fulani who are predominant in the north, the Igbo who are predominant in the southeast, and the Yoruba who are predominant in the southwest

• The rest of Nigeria's ethnic groups (sometimes called 'minorities') are found all over the country but especially in the middle and north regions of Nigeria.

• The Hausa tend to be Muslim and the Igbo are predominantly Christian. The Yoruba have a balance of members that are both Islam and Christianity. Indigenous religious practices remain important in all of Nigeria's ethnic groups; these beliefs are often blended with Christian beliefs.

Cultural Context
The post colonial theme in Adichie's Half of A Yellow Sun reflects the racism and imbalance in status that the Europeans brought to Nigeria. The trauma of war that has scarred Nigeria was a result of colonial intolerance and arrogance.
Purpose of Novel
Other secondary characters
Harrison- Richards Houseboy. He has worked at the University for so long that he thinks less of anyone not cultured like other Europeans. He is one of the only characters that is openly cynical about the original village way of life
Amala- Birth mother to Baby, a victim of Mamma's manipulation. she was supposed to be the key to breaking up Olanna and Odenigbo, but she instead gave them something wonderful
• The story in Half of a Yellow Sun centers on the war (Nigerian-Biafran War).

• Adiche has stated she believes that many of the issues that caused the war remain today. She further commented that the war is talked about "in uninformed and unimaginative ways", and that the war is as important to the Igbo people her book features today as it was then (The Story Behind the Book Adichie).

• Because none of the major political events were changed in the book, Adichie said that the book contained "emotional truth", and that the book showed the war had a significant impact upon the people of Nigeria (The Story Behind the Book Adichie).

Port harcourt- where Kainene and Richard Live for the majority of the novel. Because it is on the Eastern side of Nigeria, It is a part of Biafra. Her house eventually becomes a safe haven when it becomes a refugee camp.
The location of the University of Nigeria. The city and the school were thought to be untouchable because it was where intellectuals from many nations came (Including Americans and British).
Where the first of Igbo Massacres started. Olanna was trapped here and had to smuggle her way back to Nsukka. When Richard was at the airport in Kano, he witnessed the brutal violence that was directed to the Igbo people.
• The literary and history critic Hayden White talks about the importance of language and he tries to explain how history can be written in narrative form and still be considered history.

• White argues that if Half of a Yellow Sun is considered a historical discourse even though it is in the form of a narrative that does not mean that it can only be unrealistic, but that it can also hold factual content because every story/chapter provides the reader with knowledge of the real world.

• White claims that every narration is basically an interpretation of the past which results in there being as many different versions of the past available to us as there are narratives about it.

• While historians will mostly focus on “saying” what the past was like in a more explicit way, a novelist will focus more on the “showing‟ of the past because they know that their “(historical) novel must be as open and multi-interpretable as reality itself is. For this is what we expect of novels: they give us an epiphany of reality itself,” (Ankersmit, p.45). The novelist shows the reader what the world is like, but leaves room for the reader’s own interpretation.


Trauma from war
Traumatic effects of war in the book were experienced by characters and felt by the reader.
"One of the women had a baby boy tied to her back. she adjusted the wrapper that held him and said, 'we were on our way back to the market when we discovered the vandals has occupied the junction and were shelling inside the village. we could not go home. we had to turn and run...I dont know where my two children are, the one's i left to go to the market'" (Adichie 363).
Mey, Joke De. The Intersection of History Literature and
Zepf, Siegfried, and Florian D. Zepf. "Trauma and Traumatic
Works Cited
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Half of a Yellow Sun.New
She [Olanna] stopped when she saw the bodies. Uncle Mbaaezi lay facedown in an ungainly twist, legs spayed... Aunty Ifeka lay on the Veranda. the Cuts on her naked body were smaller, dotting her arms and legs like slightly parted red lips" (Adichie 186)
York:Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print.
Trauma in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun. Ghent: Ghent UP, 2011. Print.
Ekeh, Peter K. "Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A
Theoretical Statement. "Comparative Studies in Society and History. Vol. 17. N.p.: Cambridge UP, 1975. 91-112. Print
Mullan, John. "Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi
Adichie." The Guardian [London] 16 Oct. 2009: n. pag. Print.

Rushton, Amy. Trashing National Identity: The Portrayal of Ethnic
Conflict in the Contemporary African Novel. , Goldsmiths, University of London. University of London, n.d. Web. 03 June 2013. <http://www.gold.ac.uk/glits-e/2011-2012/contentspage/trashingnationalidentitytheportrayalofethnicconflictinthecontemporaryafricannovel/>.
Neurosis: Freud’s Concepts Revisited." The International Journal of Psychoanalysis 89.2 (2008): 331-53. 28 June 2008. Web. 28 May 2013. <http://iiiprxy.library.miami.edu:9033/doi/10.1111/j.1745-8315.2008.00038.x/full>.
Focus Question
How does Adiche depict the post colonial effects of war in Africa through the perspectives of the characters in Half of a Yellow Sun?
Stories about the past will give the reader information about how a culture views its own past, what is considered factual about it, what is most important about it, and what kinds of stories have to be told about it.
Adichie writes about the emotional effects of war and how much they can change people. Olanna was traumatized by seeing how others lives were destroyed. Ugwa lost his innocence and some of his humanity by raping a young girl with other soldiers.
The ethnic conflicts that existed between the people of Nigeria caused them to become vulnerable to the colonization of the Europeans due to their lack of unity.
Adichie uses some of her characters to represent the Western point of view and how the inner struggle against their elite upbringing has a lasting impact/influence on the mentality of other characters which akes it difficult for them to truly grasp the seriousness of Nigeria’s political situation.
Hayden White
How does Adiche depict the post colonial effects of war in Africa through the perspectives of the characters in Half of a Yellow Sun?
Focus Question:
Jomo- Odenigbo's gardener and friend of Ugwa. He is soft spoken and helpful, but disappears once the war is declared
Krishnan, Madhu. Biafra and the Aesthetics of Closure in the Third
Generation Nigerian Novel. Biafra and the Aesthetics of Closure in the Third Generation Nigerian Novel. The University of Nottingham,UK, n.d. Web. <http://rupkatha.com/V2/n2/BiafraandNigerianNovel.pdf>.
Sheeshy, Rebecca. "Half of a Yellow Sun, Part II."
Introduction to World Literature (2012): n. pag. Introduction to World Literature. Web. 03 June 2013. <http://worldliteraturecourse.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/half-of-a-yellow-sun-part-ii/>.
UK Essays, comp. "Half Of A Yellow Sun Chimamanda Adichie English
Literature Essay."Half Of A Yellow Sun Chimamanda Adichie English Literature (n.d.): n. pag. Half Of A Yellow Sun Chimamanda Adichie English Literature Essay. Web. 03 June 2013. <http://www.ukessays.com/essays/english-literature/half-of-a-yellow-sun-chimamanda-adichie-english-literature-essay.php>.
"Later [Richard] watched Odenigbo wave around a copy of the "Daily Times," shouting, 'It is now that we have to begin to decolonize our education! Not tomorrow, now! Teach them out history!' and thought to himself that here was a man who trusted the eccentricity that was his personality, a man that was not particularly attractive, but who would draw the most attention in a room full of attractive men." ( Adichie 94)
"Half of a Yellow Sun." YouTube. YouTube, 12 Mar. 2007. Web. 04 June
2013. <
John Mullan, an English professor at the University College in London, points out the structure of the novel and compares how the structure of each chapter is similar to the fragmented lives of many of the characters.
According to the author, due to the structure of the novel, having each chapter be told from a single viewpoint and each break between chapters involving a shift to the viewpoint of a different character helps us understand their personalities.

A theory presented by Mullan was idealism which is any system or theory that maintains that the”real” is of the nature of thought or that the object of external perception consists of ideas.
Likewise, with each chapter in the novel being told in the viewpoint of a different character, there is a tendency for the character to represent things in an ideal form or as they might or should be to the character rather than as they truly are.
This allows for uncertainty to be presented to the reader because there could be lingering bias since we are only looking through the lens of one character.
Although uncertainty arises within the novel with a shift in character perspectives for each chapter, it is the reader who comes to understand the character on a more personal level because you are getting an insight of how the person acts as well as why they behave/believe what they do.

John Mullan
According to Becca Sheehy, Olanna seems to be a representation of the Western point of view because she he is Igbo/Biafran, but also has been raised in a Westernized environment.
Olanna has had an English education, speaks English fluently, and has lived with relative wealth her entire life.
She sees the unfairness that runs throughout Nigeria, and she empathizes. However, her elite upbringing makes it difficult for her to truly grasp the seriousness of Nigeria’s political situation.
When Olanna vists Arize and her family in their village, her daughter Baby plays with the village children, and “Olanna did not want Baby to touch those children in their torn clothes, milky mucus trailing from their noses, but she didn’t say so; it shamed her that she felt that way” (Half of a Yellow Sun 162). Here Olanna is demonstrating her inner struggle with her elitist upbringing and her want for social change.
Sheehy comments on how Olanna recognizes that her elitist mentality is not an appropriate for a revolutionary's (Odenigbo) partner to have.
She claims that it is only after seeing her dead relatives that Olanna’s eyes are opened to the severity of the Igbo’s situation in Nigeria/Biafra.
Madhu Krishnan focuses on the structure of the novel and how it falls under the category of a third generation Nigerian fiction book.
According to Krishnan, “Half of a Yellow Sun” is an example of third generation Nigerian fiction, a genre that goes against the typical structure that novels must have an effective ending that serves as a conclusion for the narrative — they are what “shed light, retrospectively, on the text as a whole, allowing it to mean and resonate” (Biafra and the Aesthetics of Closure in the Third Generation Nigerian Novel 186).
In the third generation Nigerian novel, narratives don’t necessarily come to a clean end, which prevents the reader from moving on from a story.
Nigeria has been “repeatedly violated by colonialism, sectarian violence, ethnic conflict and military intervention after military intervention” (Biafra and the Aesthetics of Closure in the Third Generation Nigerian Novel 193), which is why expecting a happy ending is something unrealistic, Krishnan would argue.
By refusing to finish the story in a tidy way, and instead choosing to “end with conflicts hung in stasis and characters suspended in time” (Biafra and the Aesthetics of Closure in the Third Generation Nigerian Novel 186), the novel keeps readers involved in the text and considering the current state of Nigeria, “forcing a lasting engagement with history and its effects” (Biafra and the Aesthetics of Closure in the Third Generation Nigerian Novel 186).
Madhu Krishnan
By: Alexis Jones and Janette Alvarez
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