Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Half Of A Yellow Sun Characters, Analysis, Themes, Book Review & Summary Pdf.

Novel Summary:

"Half of a Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, features Nigeria during the 1960s and the struggle of the people trying to come to terms with a dual nature and culture. The book opens by focusing on a young 13-year-old Igbo boy named, Ugwu. He is going to work in the city at a rich professor's home. The professor's name is Odenigbo. The boy's aunt walks him to the residence and sends him in, alone. Ugwu soon settles in and is almost treated as if he is family by Odenigbo and his fiance, Olanna. Olanna is the daughter of a businessman in Lagos, and also has a background of extreme wealth. She has only just returned from London where she has been obtaining a degree is sociology.

The reader is introduced to a wide range of characters who parade past Ugwu his first few months there. Each weekend there is a political meeting in the den where Odenigbo entertains dissidents and fellow radicals who are unhappy about the English colonization of their country. Richard Churchill is the only white Englishman in Odenigbo's circle of friends. He is involved with Kainene the brusque younger sister to Olanna. His former girlfriend, Susan, a snobbish Englishwoman, berates Richard for his choice in women. Richard doesn't see it that way. The reader sees that Richard is in love with the country and identifies with it, though he understands that he might always remain an outsider. The reader also meets Odenigbo's mother, whom everyone calls "Mama." She disapproves of Olanna because Olanna's mother didn't breastfeed her, and thus insinuates that Olanna is a witch. This upsets Olanna very much, but once Mama leaves, her love for Odenigbo overrides her disappointment. They begin trying to have a child. The reader also meets Olanna's former boyfriend, Mohammed, a wealthy Hausa, and Olanna's Aunt and Uncle who live in Kano.

Several years later, in the midst of a governmental overthrow of the Nigerian government, there is great civil unrest. The two dominant tribes, the Hausa and the Igbo both accuse one another of instigating the overthrow. Both are pointing fingers at the other. Olanna and Odenigbo have had a child, whom they simply call "baby." The violence escalates and moves towards a purge of all Igbo living in the area. Olanna's beloved Aunt and Uncle are murdered while she is visiting them with the baby due to this escalation. She just manages to escape onto a train. When she reaches Nsukka the violence has reached there too and she sees a woman carrying the severed head of her dead child in a basket. Once in safety Olanna learns from Richard that there were massacres that took place at the airport that morning. The area still held by the Igbo people declares its independence, calling this area the Republic of Biafra.

Nigeria reacts badly to this declaration and vow to never allow the succession. England and Russia immediately send arms to the Hausa held Nigerian government and the violence becomes commonplace. Fearing for their safety Olanna, Odenigbo, Ugwu, and baby move to the outer lying areas where there are food shortages and neither Olanna nor Odenigbo have access to their money. Olanna and Odenigbo decide to make their union official and have a quick wedding, which is cut short by a bombing at the reception.

The reader will often have the linear plot line interrupted by the inclusion of sections from a book titled, 'The World Was Silent When We Died.' These selections are placed in ostensibly to show what is also going on globally at the same time as the Biafran War. After this first selection, the reader is returned to the ongoing story, but it takes place at a time before the war. In a flashback the reader sees Olanna as she is leaving Odenigbo's home to go back to London to finish up her last year of schooling. Mama, Odenigbo's mother, plots to break them up by having her serving girl, Amala seduce Odenigbo. She is successful and Odenigbo sleeps with her. Olanna finds out about it and moves all of her things out. Later, Olanna finds out that Amala has borne Odenigbo's child. In her grief Olanna gets drunk and seduces Richard, who sleeps with her. In the morning they realize their mistake and make a bargain not to tell Kainene. However, Olanna does tell Odenigbo.

Odenigbo realizes his mistake and he and Olanna get back together. Together they adopt Amala's child, whose real name is Chiamaka, but her nickname is Baby. In the meanwhile, Kainene finds out about Richard and Olanna's indiscretion and is so furious that she burns Richard's book manuscript. They make up afterwards and stay together.

In the present day, war-torn Biafra is in a tailspin and the rebellion is going badly. People are starving and the level of violence is nightmarish. Nigeria has instituted a siege of the major cities and isn't allowing food, medicine, or supplies into any of the cities. When Olanna asks Richard why the global community is not helping them, Richard can offer no excuse. Richard tries to do his part by writing news articles that are immediately picked up by the international community. Kainene starts a refugee camp and Olanna assists her. Odenigbo's mental state is not good. His mother has been killed in the violence and unable to deal with the grief and the likely loss of the war, he begins drinking and slides into a deep depression.

Kainene and Olanna make amends and they are able to resume their former close relationship. Ugwu, now 16, falls in love with a girl, but before he can go much further with her he is drafted into the Biafran army. The reader watches as a brilliant, sensitive, gifted young man is turned into a killing machine. The ultimate turning point for him is when he willingly participates in the gang rape of a girl from a bar one night. Later, he is wounded in battle and everyone fears that he is dead.

Olanna's family can no longer stay in Lagos and move in with Kainene and Olanna. While visiting friends in the hospital Olanna and Kainene find Ugwu. They take him home. Children begin dying of starvation in the refugee camps and Kainene vows to do something. Olanna is worried that her sister will do something foolish. Unbeknownst to her family, Kainene steals out at night to cross enemy lines to see if she can find food for the children. She is never seen again, though Richard and the others frantically search for her.

Starving and disease-ridden, the Biafran resistance gives up and Nigeria is unified once more. Olanna's family return to their mansion only to find everything nearly destroyed. All of their savings in the banks have been confiscated, and they are devastated. Ugwu, now well, returns to his village to see what is left of it. It is here that he learns the devastating news that his sister had been gang raped by some soldiers. As a way to cope with the news and the violence he has lived through, he begins to write a book, which he titles: "The World Was Silent When We Died."

Half Of A Yellow Sun Characters:

Ugwu:  Ugwu is a teenage Igbo from a traditional village who comes to live with Odenigbo and his family as their houseboy. Ugwu becomes part of the family, as well as a teacher and a writer.

Olanna: Olanna is a privileged, British-educated Igbo woman born to parents who are part of Nigeria's business elite. She chooses to stay in Biafra through the war with her revolutionary socialist lover-turned-husband, Odenigbo, an experience that changes her by both traumatizing her and making her stronger.

Richard; Richard Churchill is a British man who is drawn to Nigeria by his fascination with ancient Igbo art. He becomes Kainene's partner and struggles with his identity as an outsider and a writer.

Kainene: Kainene is Olanna's less beautiful but more confident twin sister and Richard's girlfriend. She runs her father's businesses before the war and a refugee camp during the war before disappearing after going behind enemy lines to trade.

Odenigbo: Odenigbo is a revolutionary socialist mathematics professor at the University of Nsukka, Olanna's husband, and Baby's father. An Igbo who has escaped village life by means of education, Odenigbo is a passionate supporter of Biafran independence until his mother's death during the war.

Abdulmalik: Abdulmalik is a friend of Olanna's Uncle Mbaezi in Kano, in the north. A simple villager and a Muslim Hausa, during the war Abdulmalik participates in the violent pogrom on his Igbo neighbors and brags to Olanna, "We finished the whole family! It was Allah's will!" when she returns to find her uncle and his family slaughtered.

Professor Achara:  A physics lecturer and friend of Odenigbo's from the University of Nsukka, Professor Achara finds housing in Umuahia for Odenigbo and his family after they flee Nsukka during the Nigerian invasion. The house he finds for Odenigbo is decrepit and cramped, while Professor Achara's own house is "large and painted a dazzling white."

Adanna;  Adanna is Baby's young playmate in Umuahia. When she gets kwashiorkor, her mother believes it is malaria and Olanna gives her milk and sardines to treat the protein-deficiency illness, but it eventually claims her life.

Adanna's mother:  Adanna's mother is a native of Umuahia who is shamed by the refugees for begging for food for her young daughter, who has kwashiorkor. She believes Adanna's illness is malaria until Olanna tells her it is not, at which point she gathers antikwashiorkor leaves because she has no food to give her daughter.

Adaobi:  Adaobi is major Madu Madu's wife.

Miss Adebayo: Part of Odenigbo's circle of intellectual and politically minded friends from the university in Nsukka, Miss Adebayo's advocacy of Pan-Africanism and cooperation with British diplomacy rather than Biafran secession, as well as her Yoruba ethnicity, causes Odenigbo to dismiss her opinion as irrelevant. She spends the war in Lagos unaware of the suffering in Biafra until she travels to London, where she learns of the famine and returns to Nigeria to assist in smuggling food into Biafra.

Nwafor Agbada:  The dibia, or traditional Igbo healer of Abba, Odenigbo's childhood village, Nwafor Agbada rouses enthusiasm in a crowd of refugees during a required meeting in the town square by invoking past victories: "Abba has never been defeated by anyone," he says, claiming, "We will never run from our homeland. Our fathers forbid it."

Half Of A Yellow Sun Themes:

Colonialism and Nigerian Politics
Half of a Yellow Sun mostly deals with the Nigerian Civil War (also called the Biafran War), which took place between 1967 and 1970. Nigeria had only recently freed itself from British colonial rule at the time, and the country of Nigeria was itself an arbitrary unification (by its colonizers) of over 300 different ethnic groups.

Loyalty and Betrayal
On the political level, Adichie shows a “betrayal” within Nigeria through the massacre of the Igbos, and also in the secession of Biafra and the powerful Igbo devotion to the Biafran cause. The book focuses mostly on the individual level, however, and its main characters experience personal loyalty and betrayal as well. 

War and Violence
Most of the novel centers around the Nigerian Civil War, and the excessive cruelty and violence of this conflict affects all of the characters. This war was sparked by the massacres of Igbo people in 1966, when angry mobs killed soldiers and citizens as “retribution” for a government coup.

War and Violence Theme Icon
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Race and Culture
Much of the conflict in Nigerian politics and between the characters of the novel has to do with race and culture. The root cause of this is the racist, oppressive colonization of Nigeria by the British Empire. This is illustrated in characters like Susan, who sees all Africans as less-civilized and inferior to white people. Colonialism also exacerbated cultural conflicts among the Nigerians themselves, as the country’s borders are a “unified” region created by… (read full theme analysis)

Half of a Yellow Sun deals with political and historical events but it is also deeply personal, particularly in the love between its characters. The romantic relationships between Olanna and Odenigbo, Kainene and Richard, and Ugwu’s infatuation with Eberechi are at the center of the novel, as well as the sibling love between Olanna and Kainene.

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