Going back to the article I wrote about last week, “History and Ideology in Chimamanda Adichie’s fiction” by Sophia Ogwude, I wanted to further discuss the female roles in the end of this novel. As I mentioned before, Ogwude states that, “the novel bustles with bold and successful full-bodied women with no inhibitions” (120). The portrayal of strong females is carried out until the end. The most discussed women in the last few chapters were Anulika, Olanna and Kainene (even though she is not present).

First, Anulika is pictured as changed and ugly when Ugwu finally sees her again, but she is still strong even after all her pain. Ugwu finds out that his sister was raped by five men, and he now understands her transformation. However, Nnesinachi told him that she fought back. She bit and drew blood from one of the men. The price for attempting to fight off five men could have easily led to her death. Anulika was strong enough to live through such a physical and emotional trauma on top of the death of her mother and others that she loved.

Olanna is also depicted to have strength and bravery through the end. After the soldiers come to their house and force them to lay on the ground while the soldiers eat their food, Olanna is the first to stand up. She had the courage to stand up before any of the men did. The next thing she did was, “she walked into the kitchen and poured the rest of the jollof rice into the dustbin” (424). Even through hard times, there was no way she would eat the food that the soldiers left behind. While these may be minor actions of strength, they still show that after all her losses, she is still moving forward.

Lastly, although Kainene is lost, Richard gives his portrayal of her as he would believe she would be seen now. He says, “She would try to get it back, he was sure, she would write petitions and go to court and tell everyone that the federal government had stolen her house, in that fearless way of hers” (427). In this way, she is almost seen as stronger than anyone in this novel, because even in her absence, her strength is exposed.

While Richard gives up hope of ever seeing Kainene again, Olanna ends the novel with hope. She is not giving up on her sister. Olanna even starts to believe in reincarnation for the hope that in the next life, “Kainene will be my sister” (433). The novel thus ends with the establishment of strength and hope from the female members of the novel.

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About karadim

I am a first year graduate student at American University's MA Literature program.

One response »

  1. Anastasia Person says:

    I think that even before the end of the novel we can see the strength of the female characters throughout this novel. Kainene keeps up her strong appearance all of the time that we see her save for when she saw Ikejide’s decapitation. Even then, however, it brought her a new strength to forgive her sister. Olanna’s strength in general seems to stem from or flow toward her family. Though this concept is slightly difficult to explain, I thought it was an interesting way to look at her. Even Mama has her own sort of strength. Though this, too, can be seen as family-related, her strength seems to be more derived from selfishness. She will use other people and go through any means to get what she wants. Looking back, there really aren’t any female characters that off the top of my head I could classify as a weak woman.

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