Half of a Yellow Sun | Study Guide

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Half of a Yellow Sun | Part 4, Chapter 32 : The Late Sixties | Summary



Ugwu is in the hospital, somewhat delirious and suffering from extreme thirst. He fears he will die because the hospital is overcrowded and undersupplied. He tries to imagine what death will be like but cannot. Father Damian visits and recognizes Ugwu from Nsukka. He says he will let Odenigbo know Ugwu's whereabouts. A few days later Richard comes and gets him. He takes him to a better hospital to see a doctor. Talking to Richard, Ugwu says he was sometimes afraid, but had found Fredrick Douglass's autobiography and "was so sad and angry for the writer."

Reunited with Odenigbo, Olanna, and Baby, Ugwu breaks down in tears. Olanna tends to him in his convalescence, and he is troubled by his memories of the war, especially his rape of the girl in the bar. He is hopeful he will soon reunite with Eberechi. When he recovers, he works at the refugee camp. He also starts writing about the people he knows and how the war has affected them. Kainene is enraged when she discovers a priest at the camp is demanding sex from the women before he distributes their rations, and Ugwu realizes all the women he knows would hate him if they knew he raped a girl. Ugwu refuses to listen to the news on the radio. Watching a group of boys play at war, he realizes one has died of starvation since the previous day. Ugwu recalls saving this boy from an air raid, and he goes to help dig the grave.


Back with the people who have become his family, Ugwu struggles to process his experiences. The war has made him vulnerable—he is both physically and psychically wounded, but he has also become strong in his convictions. To protect himself from further wounding, he turns his attention away from politics and back to nature, refusing to hear the news. It is all a sham to him: "There is no such thing as greatness," he tells Harrison. He is only concerned with the suffering of others; the war has made him even more empathetic. Ugwu quickly finds an authentic voice as he begins to write about the tragedies and the moments, large and small, that have moved him during the war. He has become a hero, "one of 'our boys'; he had fought for the cause," but rather than engaging in self-congratulations, he tortures himself over his rape of the girl in the bar and focuses his keen attention on his surroundings in order to commit them to paper. Despite his commitment to crafting a narrative that captures the full essence and emotional reality of the events and people he describes, Ugwu realizes that this is an impossible task, but one that must be undertaken nevertheless, for his own sake and for the sake of history: "He would never be able to depict the very bleakness of bombing hungry people. But he tried." This paradox is the same one that Adichie faced in undertaking to chronicle her people's history in Half of a Yellow Sun.

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