Title

Balancing Identity Between Perception and Reality

Presenter Information

Brittany AlsupFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

English Literature

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract/Description

Brittany Alsup

ENG 548

Balancing Identity Between Perception and Reality

In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, the Biafran War profoundly impacts how the characters interact with their world and how they view themselves. In her book, Adichie presents a white man who travels from Great Britain to learn more about the Igbo culture and to fulfill his lifelong obsession with its ancient historical roped pots to write his novel. For this paper, I have focused on the British character, Richard, who transforms his life and challenges his cultural identity by moving to Nigeria before the outbreak of war. In doing so, he aligns with the culture and attempts to assimilate within the Igbo community by redefining himself as a Biafran citizen. Richard meets many obstacles that challenge his idealistic view of his self, and often he cannot see how being white and British in a country recently occupied by the British Empire gives him a significant advantage over the people with whom he wishes to align. In Half of a Yellow Sun, Richard struggles through racial and ethnic constraints to maintain this Biafran identity as a way to become Igbo by default during a time in which this ethnicity is being marginalized and murdered by the Nigerian Government. This paper examines what conversations Adichie is exploring by introducing characters such as Richard in a war-torn country.

Spring Scholars Week 2019 Event

Senior Seminar in Literature: Research Presentations

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Balancing Identity Between Perception and Reality

Brittany Alsup

ENG 548

Balancing Identity Between Perception and Reality

In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, the Biafran War profoundly impacts how the characters interact with their world and how they view themselves. In her book, Adichie presents a white man who travels from Great Britain to learn more about the Igbo culture and to fulfill his lifelong obsession with its ancient historical roped pots to write his novel. For this paper, I have focused on the British character, Richard, who transforms his life and challenges his cultural identity by moving to Nigeria before the outbreak of war. In doing so, he aligns with the culture and attempts to assimilate within the Igbo community by redefining himself as a Biafran citizen. Richard meets many obstacles that challenge his idealistic view of his self, and often he cannot see how being white and British in a country recently occupied by the British Empire gives him a significant advantage over the people with whom he wishes to align. In Half of a Yellow Sun, Richard struggles through racial and ethnic constraints to maintain this Biafran identity as a way to become Igbo by default during a time in which this ethnicity is being marginalized and murdered by the Nigerian Government. This paper examines what conversations Adichie is exploring by introducing characters such as Richard in a war-torn country.