Kainene’s disappearance at the end of Half of a Yellow Sun really struck a chord in me. Perhaps it is because she was often portrayed the strongest character and of those who decided to stay in Biafra she seemed to have the most disconnect from the war. Though towards the end her involvement with the refugee camp brought her in contact with those who were suffering the most, she never seemed to face the same hardships as those the war brought to Olanna, Odenigbo, and Ugwu. I think it was a very interesting and a very effective choice by Adichie to have the least vulnerable character become the only one who is eventually lost to war. It enforces the notion that security is an inconsistent state of being, and in times of war no one is truly safe.
Something I also found interesting about Kainene’s disappearance I that it remains just that, a disappearance. By the end of the novel the reader never truly discovers what happened to Kainene, we are left wondering if she is dead or alive. When I finished the novel I was left with a feeling of uncertainty mostly due to the loose ends surrounding Kainene’s disappearance. I wonder if this uncertainty is meant to serve a larger meaning as it is symbolic of the future of the reunited Nigeria. It seems to suggest that as the war has officially come to an end, there are still many loose ends that may never be tied, needs that may never be met, and things that will never be said. I was left with the weird combination of meeting end with no actual finality to it. I realize that I have to be careful of reading too much into events of the novel as metaphors or symbols for larger geopolitical ideals, but I really think that the emotions surrounding Kainene’s disappearance are comparable to the internal political standing of Nigeria after the war.
The third significance I would like to point to in respect to Kainene’s disappearance is the emphasis that it effectually places on the idea of the personal relationship. It is not the material loss that truly upsets Olanna, Richard, Odenigbo, and Ugwu, it is instead the loss of an individual. One may notice that through out the entire novel the turning points are not when houses are taken or when food can’t be bought. The story shifts and characters change every time someone dies, is raped, or in Kainene’s case, disappears. I think that Adichie is trying to stress the significance of bonds that people build with each other. We are not defined by what we own, our class/societal standing, or what we call ourselves, but instead by the individuals we surround ourselves with and whom we choose to love.