In class we discussed how the troublesome relationship between Kainene and Olanna could be metaphorical for the tumultuous Nigerian-Biafran relationship. Going off of that, it seems fitting that one of the two sisters would be removed from the equation once the war was officially over and Biafra had been defeated.

Throughout the end half of the novel, Olanna and Kainene were rebuilding their relationship. The war had brought them closer together and there was an air of hope surrounding their newly re-found friendship. During this time, the Biafran radio was filling its people with hope that the Biafran side was winning. While things were still dark and foreboding, the presence of hope both personal and public was felt.

However, when Biafra falls and the war ends, Kainene goes missing, and is eventually believed to be dead. The hope of an independent Igbo nation dies as the hope of a sustained healthy relationship between twin sisters dies as well. The parallel between the specific sisterly relationship and the overarching national struggle is a big part of the novel and its look at the individuals affected by a war.


Another loss within the novel is the loss of innocence and childhood. Ugwu starts the novel as a young thirteen-year-old village boy who can’t speak English. He is pretty much a clean slate. By the end of the novel, he’s seen war, he’s raped, and he’s lost happiness in almost every way. The only thing he has by the end of the war is his newfound hobby of writing. Similarly, Baby has grown up mostly only knowing war and hunger. Toward the end she is regaining a more normal lifestyle, but she has become fiercely independent. She rejects Ugwu’s help and is content to do her own thing. This independence stems from her exposure to basic survival mentality at a young age. The developmental leap from youth to a more solitary mentality can be seen as the cause of such a traumatic and threatening upbringing.


About lnds-y

I'm an alumna of American University, where I received my B.A. in Literature.

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