As was the case with mostly all of the works we’ve looked at this semester, Adichie’s short stories touch on the subjects of America vs. Nigeria, religion, and sexuality. However, her story A Private Experience gives a slightly different commentary on religion. While the background action of the story follows the same pattern of religious violence that can be found in Adichie’s other work Half of a Yellow Sun as well as Abani’s novel GraceLand, Adichie’s short story shows a more hopeful side of the religious wars that pull Nigeria apart. I believe this switch to a more hopeful tone about religion can be attributed to Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” TEDtalk. In this talk her discussion about dispelling single stereotypes about certain groups allows Adichie to write this story from a different angle.

Within this story, Adichie’s protagonist, an Igbo woman named Chika, hides with a Muslim woman in an abandoned store during a religious riot in the Kano marketplace. The two make best of their situation and are able to bond over their missing loved ones. The woman even prays to Allah for both her daughter and Chika’s sister to survive this riot. By allowing these two women to bond over the normal reactions to a situation like this, Adichie shows that, regardless of religion, each person is essentially the same in their reactions and concerns relating to specific experiences.

A similarity between Half of a Yellow Sun and A Private Experience is also present. In both cases, close sisters are torn apart. Chika’s sister is lost, and, at the end of the story, Chika resolves to the fact that she will never find her sister again. I’m not sure if when Adichie wrote this story predates or postdates the publication of Half of a Yellow Sun, but I wonder why Adichie chooses to have this happen to her characters. Kainene’s disapperance held more weight due to following the entirety of Half of a Yellow Sun’s events, but, in a short story, the disappearance of Nnedi does not fully resolve much of the story’s conflict. This makes me question the importance of Nnedi not being found.

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About lnds-y

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

One response »

  1. erinwp89 says:

    I think that one of the possible significances Nnedi’s disappearance is the relationship between her disappearance and the disappearance of the woman’s daughter. Both Chika and the woman have lost a loved one in the riot. It does not matter what religion or ethnicity a person claims, in times of violence and turmoil everyone, on all sides, suffers loss and hardship. I think Chika’s loss also reinforces the necessity of prayer and hope which both Chika and her family, and the woman in the store need to get through their losses. It is interesting that the shared experience of prayer and hope can bring people together in such intimate ways, and yet religion also has the capacity to insight violence and oppression.

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