The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (The Headstrong…
The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Thing Around Your Neck
SECOND PERSON NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE
Addressed the reader as if they were the central character, and are less inclined to question the decisions and behavior of the central character
"cold, lifeless, heavy"
Use of a hendiatris directly symbolises Nkem's life in America and more specificlly, her marriage
Mask is worshiped and glorified, yet the contemporary face is dismissed by the mask being fake
"Nkem feels a fierce possessiveness now, imagining this girl locked in Obiora's arms, on their bed"
"understand the big-big English they speak; they are Americanah now, oh!"
"Americanah" is used to reinforce and describe the passive dismissal of the children's Nigerian culture.
Boasting about "big-big english", how a dismissal of their mother tongue should be praised
"Why did you cut it? Is it the new fashion trend in America?"
"She imagines - and this she imagines herself .. the proud young men wishing they did not have to behead strangers to bury their king, wishing that they could use the masks to protect themselves too"
"she had married into the coveted league of the Rich Nigerian Men Who Sent Their Wives to America to Have Their Babies league"
"She liked it when he said "we", as though she really had a say in it"
"Because America does not recognize Big Men"
"She did not mind that her accent, her foreignness, made her seem helpless to them"
"Obiora often called their lives "plastic", Yet she knew he, too, wanted the children to be like the neighbor's, the kind who sniffed at the food that had fallen on the dirt..."
Whilst Obiora is proposed to display this judgmental facade against America, he is simultaneously trying to emulate them
"In her life, her childhood, you snatched food up, whatever it was, and ate it"
"It's what America does to you, she thinks. It forces egalitarianism on you" "...turn yo your housegirl. And before you know it she is your friend. Your equal"
Preexisting social hierarchy is disregarded as she finds her loneliness to crave human interaction.
"She does miss home though, her friends... she has thought about moving home, but never seriously, never concretely"
Juxtaposition of America against her home, comparing the luxury of America against Nigeria
"America has grown on her, snaked it's roots under her skin."
"snaked" has connotations of how snakes are seen as a figure of treachery or betrayal. Nkem could be culturally betraying her homeland as she comes to America
"It is one of the things she has come to love about America, the abundance of unreasonable hope"
“Hey Madam, why did you waste your fair skin on a boy and leave the girl so dark?”
“My worldly brother”
“I wanted to slap her”
“Mastered the swag of American rap videos”
“They said I should shut up immediately or they would take me to Cell One”
“Bribed the two policemen at the desk with money and with jollof rice”
"Two policemen were flogging somebody lying on the ground under the umbrella tree"
Law enforcement ironically depicts how police themselves use violence
"When, at eleven, Nnamabia broke the window of his classroom with a stone, my mother gave him the money to replace it and did not tell my father"
"Boys who had grown up watching Seasame Street'"...
"Still, when their professor parents saw one another at the staff club or at church or at a faculty meeting, they continued to moan about the riffraff from town coming onto their sacred campus to steal"
“He did it too, because other sons of professors were doing it”
“I picked up a stone near the ixora bush and hurled it at the windshield of the Volvo”
The Headstrong Historian
"She went to her father's
and told him she would run away from any other man's house if she was not allowed to marry Obierika"
"slapped Grace in front of the teachers to show them how he disciplined his children"
"wondered whether she had meddled with his destiny. Was this what his chi had ordained for him, this life in which he was like a person diligently acting a bizrre pantomime?"
"be free of a world that increasingly made no sense"
"white men came at night with their normal-men helpers"
"those weaklings who had spent their lives scrounging off Oberika"
redemption of black heathens
"alarmed by how indiscriminately the missionaries flogged students - for being late, for being lazy, for being slow for being idle.."
"saw angry welts on his back"
"resigned in disgust when the West African Examinations began adding African history"..
Tells stories over multiple generations, underlining the multiple generations and the influence of white culture and religion in Nwamgba's Nigeria
"This sharp-tongued, headstrong daughter who once wrestled her brother to the ground"
"would have to take an English name, because it was not possible to be baptized with a heathen name"
taking his name = taking away apart of his Nigerian identity
"heathen" -> diminish Nigerian culture
"But she had come in search of English, so she walked past him and went to the Catholic mission"
Blinded by her determination to change and demand justice that she misses the harsh implications that are slowly stripping her son of his Nigerian identity
"Perhaps it was because he began to notice the admiring glances his clothes brought in the clan, but Anikwenwa's attitude to school slowly changed"
"he said he would not participate, because it was a heathen custom for boys to be initiated into the world of spirits..."
"feeling an odd rootlessness in the later years of her life, surrounded by her awards, her friends, her garden of peerless roses, would go to the courthouse in Lagos and officially change her first name from Grace to Afamefuna"
"garden of peerless roses" - symbolizes a life of perfection without any hindrance, an abundance of liberty
Grace leads this perfect life yet she obstructs this in order to fully connect with her heritage