Summary of Half of Yellow Son by Adichie Chimamanda [image_0]
The novel takes place in Nigeria prior to and during the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70). The effect of the war is shown through the dynamic relationships of five people’s lives including twin daughters of an influential businessman, a professor, a British citizen, and a houseboy. After Biafra's declaration of secession, the lives of the main characters drastically changed and were torn apart by the brutality of the civil war and decisions in their personal lives.
The book jumps between events that took place during the early and late 1960s, when the war took place, and extends until the end of the war. In the early 1960s, the main characters are introduced: Ugwu, a 13-year-old village boy who moves in with Odenigbo, to work as his houseboy. Odenigbo frequently entertains intellectuals to discuss the political turmoil in Nigeria. Life changes for Ugwu when Odenigbo’s girlfriend, Olanna, moves in with them. Ugwu forms a strong bond with both of them, and is very loyal. Olanna has a twin sister, Kainene, a woman with a dry sense of humor, tired by the pompous company she runs for her father. Her lover Richard is an Englishman who has come to Nigeria to explore Igbo-Ukwu art.
Jumping four years ahead, trouble is brewing between the Hausa and the Igbo people and hundreds of people die in massacres, including Olanna's beloved auntie and uncle. A new republic, called Biafra, is created by the Igbo. As a result of the conflict, Olanna, Odenigbo, their infant daughter, whom they refer to only as "Baby", and Ugwu are forced to flee Nsukka, which is the university town and the major intellectual hub of the new nation. They finally end up in the refugee town of Umuahia, where they suffer as a result of food shortages and the constant air raids and paranoid atmosphere. There are also allusions to a conflict between Olanna and Kainene, Richard and Kainene and Olanna and Odenigbo.
When the novel jumps back to the early 1960s, we learn that Odenigbo slept with a village girl, who then had his baby. Olanna is furious at his betrayal, and sleeps with Richard in a moment of liberation. She goes back to Odenigbo and when they later learn that Amala refused to keep her newborn daughter, Olanna decides that they would keep her.
Back during the war Olanna, Odenigbo, Baby, and Ugwu were living with Kainene and Richard where Kainene was running a refugee camp. The situation is hopeless as they have no food or medicine. Kainene decides to trade across enemy lines, but does not return, even after the end of the war a few weeks later. The book ends ambiguously, with the reader not knowing if Kainene live
Roles and Anlysis of Characters in Half of Yellow son Adichie Chimamanda
Major and Minor Character in Half of Yellow son
Roles and Character Analysis of Ugwu in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
The novel starts and ends with Ugwu. He is a village boy from Opi who later becomes a servant in Odenigbo’s house. Under Odenigbo and Olanna’s guidance, Ugwu is able to continue his education and his literary skills progress throughout the novel. He tries to maintain contact with his mother and sister, Anulika, back in his home village, and is constantly looking out for his mother’s health and wellbeing. His free time is often dominated by his love interests, which include Nnesinachi, Eberechi, and Chinyere. His life is violently interrupted when he is forcibly conscripted into the Biafrain Army. There, he witnesses and participates in gruesome battles and a rape.
Roles and Character Analysis of Odenigbo in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Odenigbo – Odenigbo starts the novel as Professor of Mathematics at Nsukka University. His strong opinions result in some characters labeling him as a “revolutionary.” He favors socialism and tribalism to capitalism and Pan-Africanism or nationalism. After the war forces him to vacate his position at Nsukka University, Odenigbo becomes active in the war cause under Manpower Directorate . His personal life is dominated by his relationship and later marriage to Olanna. He is the father of Baby, though Amala, not Olanna, is Baby’s mother. Odenigbo also has a strong, albeit turbulent, relationship with his mother. “Mama” affects his relationship with Olanna, and Mama’s death starts Odenigbo on a dark path of alcoholism and depression.
Roles and Character Analysis of Olanna in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Olanna – Olanna is one of three characters through which the novel is told (the others being Ugwu and Richard). She is the daughter of Chief Ozobia and twin of Kainene. Olanna was raised in Nigeria, and later attended university in the United Kingdom. She is described as “illogically beautiful,” and her appearance often dictates how others treat her. For example, her parents try to offer sex with her as a bribe to help secure business deals. Consequently, her connection with her parents is weak and she gravitates towards her Aunt Ifeka and Uncle Mbaezi in Kano. Mohammed is her ex-boyfriend and Odenigbo is her husband, and she is the adopted mother of Baby. Professionally, she is a Professor of Sociology at Nsukka University before the war begins. She later works as a school teacher in Umuahia and finally helps her sister care for refugees in Orlu.
Roles and Character Analysis of Kainene in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Kainene – Kainene, Olanna’s twin, seems to be at first very different from Olanna. She is the type of strong-headed woman, independent, cold, very calculated. Kainene lives in Port Harcourt where she runs her father’s business. Her father, very proud of her, tells one of his friends that she is “not just like a son, she is like two.” In the beginning of the war, she is a war profiteer. However, after she witnesses the war’s cruelty, she changes completely as a character and instead of running her father’s business, she runs a refugee camp. She remains fearless and in the end decides to trade with the enemy, putting her life at risk.
Roles and Character Analysis of Richard Churchill in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Richard Churchill – Richard is an English writer who comes to Nigeria to explore Igbo-Ukwu art. At first he associates with other expats, especially Susan who becomes his girlfriend. However, once he meets Kainene at one of the parties Susan drags him to, he becomes fascinated with her. Richard moves to Nsukka where he teaches at the Nsukka University and attempts to write a book about the Igbo-Ukwu art. Olanna invites him to be part of Odenigbo’s circle of intellectuals. Richard is glad to witness Biafra’s birth, thinking it would actually make him Biafran. He starts writing a book about the war, but soon realizes that it is not his story to tell. Adichie has said in an interview that the idea of Richard came from Frederick Forsyth, a staunch supporter of Biafra: “Richard isn’t at all like him, of course, but just the sense of an Englishman who became more Biafran than Biafrans themselves, was really an idea that came from him, Forsyth.”
Roles and Character Analysis of Ugwu's aunty in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Ugwu's aunty – Cleaner at Nsukka University, she introduces Ugwu to Master Odenigbo.
Roles and Character Analysis of Anulika in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Anulika – Anulika is Ugwu’s sister. She is preparing to get married before the war, but a war-time tragedy changes her plans.
Roles and Character Analysis of Nnesinachi in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Nnesinachi – Ugwu’s first crush from his village of Opi. Ugwu and Nnesinachi reconnect after the war.
Roles and Character Analysis of Ugwu's mother in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Ugwu's mother – Ugwu’s mother suffers from illness in Ugwu’s home village of Opi. She seeks treatment in Nsukka with Odenigbo’s help. Ugwu often worries about her during the war.
Roles and Character Analysis of Miss Adebayo in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Miss Adebayo –Yoruba professor at Nsukka University. Sexual tension between Miss Adebayo and Odenigbo create an awkward relationship between Miss Adebayo and Olanna. As the war starts to break out, Miss Adebayo’s ethnicity creates a gap between her and other professors.
Roles and Character Analysis of Dr Patel in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Dr Patel – Indian Professor at Nsukka University. Dr. Patel is a friend of Odenigbo and Olanna.
Roles and Character Analysis of Professor Lehman in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Professor Lehman – American Professor at Nsukka University. Professor Lehman’s views are often criticized by Odenigbo.
Roles and Character Analysis of Professor Ezeka in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Professor Ezeka – Professor at Nsukka University who later becomes Director of Mobilization in the Biafran Army.
Roles and Character Analysis of Okeoma in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Okeoma – A friend of Olanna and Odenigbo in Nsukka. Okeoma is a renowned poet, as one point called, “the voice of our generation.” He cites Olanna as his inspiration. Okeoma later becomes an officer in the Biafran Army and stops writing poems.
Roles and Character Analysis of Edna in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Edna – Olanna’s neighbor in Nsukka. Edna is an African American woman with strong opinions on racial and gender injustice.
Roles and Character Analysis of Jomo in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Jomo – Jomo works as the gardener at both Richard’s house and Odenigbo’s house in Nsukka. He is one of Ugwu’s first friends in Nsukka and is also often feuding with his rival, Harrison.
Roles and Character Analysis of Harrison in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Harrison – Richard’s houseboy. Harrison’s talkative nature at first annoys Richard, and later gets him into trouble.
Roles and Character Analysis of Chinyere in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Chinyere – Works in a house near Master’s in Nsukka. Maintains late night visits with Ugwu until the war starts.
Roles and Character Analysis of Mama (Odenigbo's mother) in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Mama (Odenigbo's mother) – A village woman from Abba. She is opposed to the relationship between Odenigbo and Olanna because they are not officially married (no bride price paid yet) plus Olanna is an unnatural woman.
Roles and Character Analysis of Amala in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Amala – A village girl who works for Mama, Odenigbo’s mother. To break up Olanna and Odenigbo Mama makes Amala sleep with Odenigbo. Amala gets pregnant but after giving birth, she refuses to take the child and sends her back to Mama.
Roles and Character Analysis of Chief Okonji in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Chief Okonji – Friend of Olanna and Kainene’s parents. Chief Okonji claims a romantic interest in Olanna, but is thoroughly rebuffed by Olanna.
Roles and Character Analysis of Chief Ozobia in Half of Yellow son by Adichie Chimamanda
Chief Ozobia – Prominent businessman in Lagos and father to Olanna and Kainene. Chief Ozobia manipulates his daughters for financial benefit. He also keeps a mistress, and eventually leaves Nigerian during the war.