Half of a Yellow Sun | Study Guide

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Half of a Yellow Sun | Part 2, Chapter 7 : The Late Sixties | Summary

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Summary

The narrative jumps in time from the early sixties to 1966. Visiting his village, Ugwu finds the food unpalatable and "could not wait to get back to Nsukka and finally eat a real meal." His sister Anulika is pregnant and engaged to be married to Onyeka, a village man. She says she wants to have a baby boy. Ugwu doesn't like Onyeka and says "he smells like rotten oil beans." Anulika disapproves of the changes in Ugwu, saying, "You have forgotten where you come from ... you have become so foolish you think you are a Big Man." Leaving, he runs into Nnesinachi, who seems to return his attraction.

Ugwu returns to Odenigbo's, where Olanna is busy with her daughter, Baby. She tells him she will go to Kano to pick up her cousin Arize, so she can have her baby in Nsukka. Odenigbo turns on the radio, and they learn a coup has occurred: revolutionary officers, led by Major Nzeogwu, have overthrown the Nigerian government and established military rule. Olanna is worried about her parents in Lagos.

That night Odenigbo's guests are unusually excited. Olanna is sobered to learn that among those killed in the coup is Chief Okonji, who propositioned her at her father's house. The coup's tribal lines quickly emerge when a guest points out: "the BBC is calling it an Igbo coup ... It was mostly Northerners who were killed." Professer Ezeka counters, "It was mostly Northerners who were in the government." Odenigbo praises coup leader Major Nzeogwu as a man of vision. Ugwu, who feels disdain for politicians, is excited by the coup. His lover, the neighbor's housegirl Chinyere, visits him that night and they have intercourse, during which he imagines she is Nnesinachi.

Analysis

Ugwu has been changed by his life of privilege in Nsukka, and his sister resents these changes. To her, his rejection of village ways is pretentious and foolish. Her attitude implies becoming educated and living in luxury will not change the fact that Ugwu is a villager. Her largest ambition in life is to bear a male child, which will confer status upon her in the tribe. Ugwu is possessive of his sister's sexuality and disapproves of her relationship with Onyeka. His senses have been altered by his life in Nsukka and he dislikes Onyeka's smell as well as his mother's cooking.

The coup occurs on January 15, 1966, and Igbo military leaders kill 22 people, including Prime Minister Balewa, in attacks on the towns of Kaduna, Ibadan, and Lagos. The political becomes personal when Olanna realizes Chief Okonji is among the dead and her parents, being prominent business owners, are likely targets. This is the first time the conflict in Nigeria has directly touched the book's characters. Odenigbo welcomes the coup, seeing it as the overthrow of a colonial puppet government by Igbos who wish to restore power to Nigerians. Ugwu's excitement about the coup reflects his disdain for politicians, which he has learned at Odenigbo's house.

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