It is amazing to me how much war affects people. All of the characters in Half of a Yellow Sun changed in significant ways throughout the novel. The characters who changed the most I think are Odenigbo and Olaana. Odenigbo became quiet, reserved, and sad after the death of his mother. He no longer was passionate, happy or sure of himself. Olaana misses her reassuring and loving husband and grows to resent him, but what she does not realize is that she has changed even more drastically than Odenigbo. Olaana used to be carefree, happy, and rational. By the time the war is over, she is has extreme and constant anxiety. No longer carefree, Olaana is more stern and rational as well as sad. Most shocking though is her renewed belief in the old ways of her people. Her grief over losing Kainene leads to a new faith in the old superstitions, the superstitions she refuted throughout the novel. You realize how lost Olaana has become when she says “Our people say that we all reincarnate, don’t they?…When I come back in my next life, Kainene will be my sister.”(pg 540-541) Throughout the novel Olaana has put down all of the beliefs of her people seeing them as irrational and unrealistic, it is only when she loses her twin that she clings to the fundamental beliefs of the society she grew up in. Ugwu also changed significantly by the end of the novel. He is no longer the innocent and naïve village boy we meet in the first chapter who keeps chicken wings in his pants pockets. He has grown up during the war. He has loved, lost, and fought. I think the ending where we find out that it is Ugwu who has written The World was Silent When We Died is so perfect. It is really his story all along. He has watched the war, watched Olaana and Odenigbo, and he has learned so much. It is also fitting that he has surpassed his master because in the new Nigeria it will be up to Ugwu’s generation to build from the ashes. He is the ‘big man’ now. I also think that Ugwu gives a voice of the voiceless. His book tells the stories of so many who were hurt through the war. He provides voices to all classes of society from middle class intellectuals (Odenigbo) to bush women (his sister).


About Bethany

I am a Junior at American University, pursuing a degree in International Studies. I am particularly interested in development in Africa, especially when it comes to education. I am going abroad to Senegal for the spring semester and will be writing about my adventures here.

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