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Half of a Yellow Sun | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Early 1960s

    Ugwu becomes Odenigbo's houseboy in Nsukka, and Olanna begins visiting.

    Part 1, Chapter 1
  • A few years later

    Olanna and Odenigbo try to conceive a child; there are widespread labor strikes in Nigeria.

    Part 1, Chapter 5
  • Around 1965

    Amala is pregnant with Odenigbo's child, so Olanna sleeps with Richard.

    Part 3, Chapter 20
  • Nine months later

    Olanna and Odenigbo adopt Baby, and Kainene severs her relationship with Olanna.

    Part 3, Chapter 23
  • January 1966

    An Igbo-lead coup overthrows the Nigerian government.

    Part 2, Chapter 7
  • July 1966

    A counter-coup lead by Northerners installs Gowon in power.

    Part 2, Chapter 9
  • The following weeks

    Massacres and pogroms in the North target Igbos.

    Part 2, Chapter 10
  • Around the same time

    Olanna visits her family's village in Kano and finds them all murdered.

    Part 2, Chapter 11
  • Around the same time

    Richard witnesses a massacre in the Kano airport.

    Part 2, Chapter 12
  • May 1967

    Okjukwu declares Biafra's independence following the failure of the Aburi accord.

    Part 2, Chapter 13
  • A few months later

    Nsukka falls to the Nigerian army and Olanna and Odenigbo flee to Abba.

    Part 2, Chapter 15
  • Weeks later

    Olanna and Odenigbo flee to Umuahia and are married during an air raid.

    Part 2, Chapter 18
  • Late 1967

    The Umuahia school is bombed during an air raid, and Olanna reclaims her power by making soap.

    Part 4, Chapter 25
  • Around the same time

    The Biafran capital Enugu falls and Odenigbo is devastated by his mother's death.

    Part 4, Chapter 26
  • Early 1968

    After Ikejide's death, Kainene and Richard flee Port Harcourt.

    Part 4, Chapter 27
  • Spring 1968

    Kainene and Olanna reconcile, and Biafra scores a victory with the Abanga Ambush.

    Part 4, Chapter 28
  • 1969

    The Biafran capital Umuahia falls, and Ugwu is conscripted and then injured.

    Part 4, Chapter 29
  • A few months later

    Kainene crosses enemy lines to trade for food and salt.

    Part 4, Chapter 33
  • January 1970

    Biafra surrenders, and Odenigbo visits his mother's grave in Abba.

    Part 4, Chapter 34
  • Weeks later

    Olanna, Odenigbo, and Richard continue searching for Kainene, and Olanna consults a dibia.

    Part 4, Chapter 37

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Part 1, Chapter 1 Ugwu is a 13-year-old Igbo boy from the village of Opi. In the early 1960s Ugwu begins working as a houseboy for Odenigb... Read More
Part 1, Chapter 2 Olanna travels to Lagos to see her mother, father, and twin sister Kainene. Her parents are successful businesspeople en... Read More
Part 1, Chapter 3 Having left London to pursue his interest in Igbo-Ukwu art and write a book about Nigeria, Richard has fallen into a cas... Read More
Part 1, Chapter 4 Clearing the table at Odenigbo's, Ugwu pleasures himself by sucking the leftover chicken bones from Olanna's plate. He d... Read More
Part 1, Chapter 5 Odenigbo goes to Olanna's flat to persuade her to return to his house, excusing his mother's behavior because "she's jus... Read More
Part 1, Chapter 6 Richard eats traditional pepper soup at Odenigbo's, and Miss Adebayo comments, "This is proof that Richard was an Africa... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 7 The narrative jumps in time from the early sixties to 1966. Visiting his village, Ugwu finds the food unpalatable and "c... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 8 Olanna postpones her trip to Kano until the fallout from the coup settles. Arize says she wants her unborn daughter to b... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 9 Richard and Kainene attend a party at her parents' house with "many Big Men of the new regime." They have returned from ... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 10 Miss Adebayo brings news of violence in the North. Ugwu is worried because Olanna is in Kano picking up Arize. The radio... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 11 Olanna is visiting with her ex-boyfriend, Mohammed, in Kano when a messenger brings news of a riot, saying, "they are bl... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 12 On the plane from London to Kano, en route to Lagos, Richard reads a love note from Kainene. He vows to propose marriage... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 13 Returning to Nsukka from Kano, Olanna finds herself unable to walk or control her bladder and begins having episodes she... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 14 Richard travels to the home village of Nnaemeka and meets with his parents to tell them he witnessed Nnaemeka's death at... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 15 Ugwu and Odenigbo donate food for refugees at the union office, run by Mr. Ovoko. When Odenigbo says there will not be w... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 16 Richard is shocked at the prospect of war. Kainene is not: "It's the oil," she claims, and calmly suggests he move to Po... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 17 Baby settles in happily to village life in Abba, and Olanna relaxes around Odenigbo's mother, who is their next-door nei... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 18 Olanna is withdrawn after her visit to Umunnachi. Abba's residents are evacuating and Odenigbo announces they'll be leav... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 19 The narrative jumps in time back to the early sixties. Ugwu and Harrison are preparing to travel to Ugwu's village with ... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 20 While Odenigbo's mother and Amala are at Odenigbo's house in Nsukka, Olanna visits her parents after consulting a gyneco... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 21 After sleeping with Olanna, Richard avoids Kainene, fearful he will lose her when she finds out. Despite his awareness t... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 22 In the wake of Amala's pregnancy being revealed, Ugwu is preoccupied with worry about Olanna's absence in the house and ... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 23 Olanna visits Richard to discuss the aftermath of their liaison. They agree it is best not to tell Kainene, because she ... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 24 Richard wants to beat Harrison for inadvertently revealing his liaison with Olanna to Kainene. Harrison happens to menti... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 25 The narrative jumps in time to the late sixties. After Olanna and Odenigbo's wedding is interrupted by an air raid, Oden... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 26 Ugwu is annoyed with the shabby food from the relief center and longs to go there himself to get better provisions, but ... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 27 Harrison shows up at Kainene's house in Port Harcourt. He has used beets to fake a head wound, which earned him rides wi... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 28 Odenigbo has withdrawn from Olanna, ever since his mother's death. He forgoes work to go to the bar every day. When Okeo... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 29 Ugwu leaves the house and is immediately forced into a line of fresh conscripts. Mrs. Muokelu sees him in the street and... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 30 Richard acts as a guide for two visiting American journalists, both named Charles. He is annoyed by their presumptuous, ... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 31 Olanna is desperately worried about Ugwu's fate in the army. She receives a luxurious care package and a gossipy letter ... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 32 Ugwu is in the hospital, somewhat delirious and suffering from extreme thirst. He fears he will die because the hospital... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 33 Odenigbo says "the white man brought racism ... used it as conquest ... to conquer a more humane people," the Africans. ... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 34 A week later Olanna believes Kainene will return as well as Ojukwu, who "would come back with justice and with salt." As... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 35 Ugwu, Olanna, and Odenigbo return to Nsukka and find Odenigbo's books and papers burned, the house looted, and the batht... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 36 At her mother's behest, Richard returns to Kainene's house in Port Harcourt and finds it inhabited by a woman, who threa... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 37 Olanna struggles with Kainene's absence, alternating between having faith she will return and feeling devastated she wil... Read More
Author's Note Adichie writes that many of her characters are based on real people, but that "their portrayals are fictitious as are th... Read More
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