Half of a Yellow Sun | Study Guide

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Half of a Yellow Sun | Part 2, Chapter 10 : The Late Sixties | Summary

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Summary

Miss Adebayo brings news of violence in the North. Ugwu is worried because Olanna is in Kano picking up Arize. The radio reports "up to five hundred Igbo people have been killed in Maiduguri." Odenigbo says this is impossible.

Two "hollow-eyed men with ... dirt-smeared clothes" appear at Odenigbo's door, and Ugwu recognizes they are Odenigbo's kin. One of them, Obiozo, tells Odenigbo "they are killing us like ants," and the violence started in Kano. The radio tells of a disemboweled pregnant woman, a Catholic church set on fire, and groups of teachers hacked to death. It reports Igbo refugees are fleeing the North and Odenigbo sends Ugwu to the train station to bring bread and tea to the refugees. Ugwu is shocked when he encounters the savagely wounded refugees, and distraught Olanna is not among them.

Analysis

In the wake of the coups, genocidal pogroms against Igbos living in the Northern parts of the country have begun. After the second coup, Gowon, a northerner, assumed control of the military government. The pogroms are retaliation for the first coup, seen as an Igbo action, and are also a long-standing expression of Northern prejudice against the Igbo, who are Christians and business leaders in a Muslim land. Odenigbo, who welcomed the first coup and praised its leaders as men of vision, now rejects the news of these massacres as "impossible" and "rubbish," a position covering his deep distress. As an Igbo in Kano, Olanna's privilege is unlikely to protect her from becoming a victim. Odenigbo is too distracted to eat the food Ugwu prepares, and this symbolizes the end of normalcy within the household. Ugwu is only able to distract Baby, who clamors for Olanna but is too young to understand what is going on, by having her help him prepare potatoes.

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