Half of a Yellow Sun

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Kainene Ozobia Character Analysis

Olanna’s twin sister, who is less beautiful than Olanna and has something of a dour, sarcastic personality. Kainene is always the less popular of the two, and she builds up many emotional defenses against the world. Kainene also studied in London, and then takes over her father’s business in Port Harcourt. Richard falls deeply in love with her when they meet. She returns his love but rarely displays open affection. Kainene runs a refugee camp during the war.

Kainene Ozobia Quotes in Half of a Yellow Sun

The Half of a Yellow Sun quotes below are all either spoken by Kainene Ozobia or refer to Kainene Ozobia . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of Half of a Yellow Sun published in 2006.
Part 1, Chapter 3 Quotes

“The new Nigerian upper class is a collection of illiterates who read nothing and eat food they dislike at overpriced Lebanese restaurants and have social conversations around one subject: ‘How’s the new car behaving?’”

Related Characters: Kainene Ozobia (speaker)
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

After meeting at one of Susan's parties, Richard becomes infatuated with Kainene. They begin to meet for lunches at one of her father's hotels, which soon lead to somewhat unsuccessful trysts, due to Richard's inexplicable inability to sexually perform. Kainene, however, does not seem upset by his lack of arousal, and they resume their conversations as normal. 

In this quote, Kainene complains about her parents and the social class they occupy. She argues that they are undereducated yet wealthy, resulting in a banality that centers around their "nouveau-riche" purchases like foreign cars and expensive meals. Richard is fascinated with her biting wit and prescient observations, and her strong sense of self despite having grown up in the very social class she is deprecating. Though critical of the nouveau riche (people with "new money," often seen to be tasteless and garish) like her parents, Kainene exhibits some hypocrisy in that she very much benefits from the wealth and education she has received as a result of her family's sociopolitical status. Still, Richard is in awe of her determination to make her own way in the world as a shrewd businesswoman. 

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Part 3, Chapter 23 Quotes

Or she should have told him more: that she regretted betraying Kainene and him but did not regret the act itself. She should have said that it was not a crude revenge, or a scorekeeping, but took on a redemptive significance for her. She should have said the selfishness had liberated her.

Related Characters: Olanna Ozobia (speaker), Kainene Ozobia , Odenigbo
Page Number: 306
Explanation and Analysis:

After Olanna sleeps with Richard, they agree not to tell Kainene what has transpired between them. Olanna tells Odenigbo, who is shaken at the breach in Olanna's loyalty, and the fact that she would discard her morals to the extent that she would sleep with her twin sister's boyfriend. In this quote, Olanna, back at her apartment, wishes she had elaborated more on her feelings about her night with Richard. 

As the more attractive, "agreeable" twin, Olanna is perceived as morally and socially superior to Kainene, to a fault. Kainene, whose slender figure appears masculine to many, acts traditionally "masculine" in what seems to be a response to her sister's personality: she is sharp, sarcastic, and relies on shrewd logic in both her own life and in her career as a businesswoman. In a way, sleeping with her twin's boyfriend and not regretting the act is something that Kainene might have done if Richard cheated on her: challenge one morally reprehensible act with one that might be even more despicable. The danger and general badness of the act is delicious to angelic Olanna, and her lack of regret inspires a "liberation" in her feelings towards herself and Odenigbo's infidelity. Now that they are even--and in fact, she has the upper hand--she can forgive him, and herself. And more importantly, the very act of taking full control of her life and agency over her actions makes this seeming sin into an identity-affirming moment for Olanna herself.

Part 3, Chapter 24 Quotes

“I will never forgive myself if I lose you, Kainene.”
Her face was expressionless. “I took your manuscript from the study this morning and I burned it,” she said.
Richard felt a soar in his chest of emotions he could not name. “The Basket of Hands,” the collection of pages that he was finally confident could become a book, was gone… But it did not matter. What mattered was that by burning the manuscript she had shown him that she would not end the relationship; she would not bother to cause him pain if she was not going to stay. Perhaps he was not a true writer after all. He had read somewhere that, for true writers, nothing was more important than their art, not even love.

Related Characters: Kainene Ozobia (speaker), Richard Churchill (speaker)
Page Number: 324
Explanation and Analysis:

After Kainene finds out that Richard slept with Olanna, Kainene is understandably furious, and Richard spends a fitful night on the couch worried that she will leave him. In this quote, Kainene greets Richard with an eerie calmness the next day, and announces that she has burned Richard's sole copy of his book, which was near completion. Though Richard is aghast at the loss of his work, he mostly feels elation: this act of retribution means that she is not leaving him, presumably to watch his anguish over the loss of the manuscript. Richard realizes he cares more for Kainene than he does for his writing, and wonders if this means that he is not really a "true" writer. 

From the moment Richard was born to apathetic parents, Richard has been apologetic and guilty about his very existence, particularly based on the privilege he receives as a white Englishman in postcolonial Nigeria. Both his writing and his love for Kainene become his only anchors to the world in a way nothing else has before. He hopes to do some good for the world by writing a book about a Nigeria suppressed by the British, but finds himself falling deeper in love with Kainene than he ever could with Igbo-Ukwu artifacts. When Kainene announces that the book has been burned, he realizes his relief is significantly greater than his anger, and that he values her more than his writing. His existence, it seems, can perhaps be justified by his love for another person, not just what he will leave behind. 

Part 4, Chapter 31 Quotes

“Good?”
“Yes, good. There’s something very lazy about the way you have loved him so blindly for so long without ever criticizing him. You’ve never even accepted that the man is ugly,” Kainene said.

Related Characters: Olanna Ozobia (speaker), Kainene Ozobia (speaker)
Page Number: 486
Explanation and Analysis:

At Kainene's house in Orlu, Olanna complains to her twin about how Odenigbo has seemingly changed into someone else since the war began. She voices her complaints about his excessive drinking and her suspicions that he slept with Alice. In this quote, Kainene replies that she is happy Olanna has finally stopped blindly accepting her love and confidence in Odenigbo without criticism.

As a beautiful and rich woman, Olanna has rarely questioned the good things that come to her, such as a university degree, jobs, and men. The major choices she has made in life lately have all involved Odenigbo, such as when she left Mohammed and when she decided to forgive Odenigbo after he slept with Amala, more for her sake than his. Kainene, who has had an equally charmed life albeit without Olanna's good looks and eager-to-please personality, has always been more shrewd and discerning regarding decisions that relate to her personal life. She praises Olanna for finally criticizing Odenigbo without loving him and his flaws blindly, a moment of bonding for two sisters who have been distant for so long. 

Part 4, Chapter 33 Quotes

Richard showed them Kainene’s picture. Sometimes, in his rush, he pulled out the picture of the roped pot instead. Nobody had seen her… On the drive back, Richard began to cry.

Related Characters: Richard Churchill (speaker), Kainene Ozobia
Related Symbols: Roped Pots
Page Number: 510
Explanation and Analysis:

After Kainene has been missing for two days, Olanna and Richard drive around in search of her. In this quote, Richard asks passersby if they have seen her, using a picture he keeps in his wallet to jog their memories. Occasionally, he accidentally pulls out the photo he keeps of the roped pot that inspired his move to Nigeria. No one has any information for Olanna or Richard, and when they drive home, Richard cries in despair.

While there have been many false alarms for the loss of the four narrative characters--Olanna and Odenigbo's impending break-up, Olanna's visit to Kano during a massacre, Ugwu's near-death experience--it is in fact Kainene whose disappearance remains a mystery in the final pages of the novel. She is the one main character whose voice we never hear as a narrator: like Richard's roped pots, she is objectified, othered, and analyzed by each of the other characters, in particular Olanna and Richard. The fact that Richard keeps the picture of the roped pots alongside his photo of Kainene symbolizes the fact that though he indeed loves Kainene and is lost in her absence, he has never quite shed his fascination for Nigeria due to his "othering" of its culture, a remnant of his native Englishness and white skin. 

Part 4, Chapter 36 Quotes

Madu got up. Richard reached out and grasped his arm. Come back, he wanted to say, come back here and tell me if you ever laid your filthy black hand on her. Madu shrugged Richard’s hand off…
Darkness descended on him, and when it lifted he knew that he would never see Kainene again and that his life would always be like a candlelit room; he would see things only in shadows, only in half glimpses.

Related Characters: Richard Churchill (speaker), Kainene Ozobia , Madu Madu
Page Number: 537
Explanation and Analysis:

After Kainene's disappearance, Richard goes to Lagos to see Kainene's parents. At their home, he also encounters Madu. After years of pent-up anger and jealousy towards Madu, Richard summons up the courage to ask him if he loves Kainene, to which Madu replies that he does. Richard asks him if he has ever "touched" (slept) with Kainene, and Madu only laughs. Richard feels condescended to by Madu, and in this quote, he thinks a variety of furious, even racist thoughts towards the man he believes may have slept with the woman he loves. Instead of saying these things, he punches Madu, who punches Richard in return and causes him to fall unconscious.

Though Richard has found a home in Nigeria, and then Biafra, in a way that he never felt at home in England, this inner monologue reveals that he still feels an "otherness" for the Nigerian people. So great is his love for Kainene--at times, a kind of fetishization of the way she looks and acts, so different from what he looks like and his own personality--that he thinks the very worst thoughts he can towards Madu, which in his trauma easily descend into racism. Though perhaps subconsciously still ingrained with racist ideas, Richard would never deign to say these things out loud, and instead he expresses his grief through a punch, which the powerful, confident Madu responds to with an even stronger punch. As Richard slips in and out of unconsciousness, he thinks about how his world will be entirely different now without Kainene by his side, a symbol of how both she and Biafra have forever shaped who he is, despite his worries towards the contrary. He had defined his life around Kainene and Biafra, and now both are lost.

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Kainene Ozobia Character Timeline in Half of a Yellow Sun

The timeline below shows where the character Kainene Ozobia appears in Half of a Yellow Sun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 2
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
...to have dinner with her parents and Chief Okonji, the finance minister. Her twin sister Kainene is there too. They have a fancy meal and the family laughs at all of... (full context)
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Kainene then comes to Olanna’s room and sarcastically discusses Olanna being used as “sex bait.” Kainene... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
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At one of Susan’s parties Richard meets Kainene. At first he watches her and wonders why she is at the party, but then... (full context)
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...nouveau riche (newly rich and flashy). Richard is suddenly irritated by Susan, and he watches Kainene, her parents, and Olanna across the room. He and Kainene lock eyes once but Richard... (full context)
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A few days later Richard calls the operator and finds Kainene’s number. He asks her for a drink and she invites him to a hotel owned... (full context)
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...which inspired him to want to come to Africa, but he decides not to tell Kainene this yet. He tells her that he has always been a “loner,” and he came... (full context)
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Richard and Kainene meet for lunch for several days after that, and Richard feels a deep connection with... (full context)
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...they try to have sex again, but this time Richard immediately climaxes. Richard apologizes, and Kainene invites him to dinner with her family that night. Richard agrees. Chief Ozobia asks Richard... (full context)
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...with Susan. He thinks of his relationship with Susan as a “reassuring stability,” while with Kainene he is alternatingly ecstatic and totally insecure. Richard keeps putting off telling Susan about Kainene,... (full context)
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...go off to see more of Nigeria, as he originally wanted to. Richard doesn’t mention Kainene. He packs his things and leaves Susan’s house, feeling overjoyed. (full context)
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The next day Richard again fails to have sex with Kainene, and he thinks about finding some African herbs to help him. They are both going... (full context)
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Richard tells Kainene that he has left Susan. She is silent for a while, then says that Richard... (full context)
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Richard visits Kainene in Port Harcourt and she shows him into her spacious house and around the grounds.... (full context)
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Richard is amazed at how busy Kainene is running her family business. She wants to do better than her father did. One... (full context)
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Madu invites his friend over, Major Ekechi Udodi, who is very drunk. Udodi criticizes Kainene for “following white men” and disgracing herself. Madu apologizes for him and takes him away.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
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...her opinions or has just been humoring her. She eats some rice and then calls Kainene. They chat and finally Olanna asks Kainene why they don’t really talk anymore. Kainene is... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
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Richard goes to Port Harcourt to see Kainene, and on his second day there she asks him what’s bothering him. He tells her... (full context)
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Kainene cancels their dinner plans with Major Madu so they can stay in. She tells Richard... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
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...says she wants her baby to be smart and educated like Olanna. Arize brings up Kainene but Olanna changes the subject. It becomes clear that the twin sisters are not speaking... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
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Richard and Kainene go to a lavish party with many “Big Men of the new regime” and Kainene’s... (full context)
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...well), but Madu always answers in English. Madu has been promoted to Colonel. He and Kainene discuss business and Richard says he thinks there will be another government coup. Madu says... (full context)
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Two weeks later Richard and Kainene are in Nsukka, and Richard is reading a letter from his cousin, who discusses Richard... (full context)
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...says that Northern officers have taken over and Igbo officers are being killed in Kaduna. Kainene is distraught, as Madu is in Kaduna. Days pass and Kainene continues to worry about... (full context)
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Two weeks later Madu shows up at Kainene’s house, looking starved. Kainene is overcome with joy. Madu says he was saved by his... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
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...in Kano after his visit to London. He is reading a note he found from Kainene, which seems to profess her love for him. Richard smiles and cherishes this rare outburst... (full context)
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...officer, who is from the Southeast. Richard talks about his work in Nigeria and describes Kainene as his fiancée. He talks to the man in Igbo, and the man introduces himself... (full context)
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...should be transfigured by seeing such horrors, and he feels guilty about worrying only about Kainene while Nnaemeka was being killed. Richard washes his face and starts to cry. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13
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Olanna’s parents and Kainene come to visit her, and Kainene cries for the first time since they were children.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
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Richard is nervous about what Kainene thinks of his article, as she has been acting distant again, but she says it... (full context)
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...a Nigerian, because he was here for the birth of Biafra. He intends to ask Kainene to marry him, but he cannot say it aloud. (full context)
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Back at home, Richard describes Ojukwu to Kainene, and he tells her that he saw Olanna at the conference. Kainene responds by saying... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16
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Richard is surprised at the announcement of “police action,” but Kainene says that Nigeria wants all the oil in the Southeast. She is confident that the... (full context)
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...Richard is struck by a memory of his first manuscript, The Basket of Hands, which Kainene burned under a tree. (full context)
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Kainene criticizes Ojukwu and the handling of the army – soldiers have been getting free food... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 17
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...are planning to go to London. She says they have made passports for Olanna and Kainene, and she hopes they will come. Olanna respectfully declines the offer, saying that the war... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 20
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...for talking to her father, and Olanna is strangely proud to have spoken forcefully like Kainene would have done. Olanna’s mother then changes the subject to try and set Olanna up... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 21
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Winston Churchill dies, and Richard is relieved to have an excuse to avoid Kainene for another weekend, as he decides to go to Lagos for a memorial service. Richard... (full context)
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...to lunch afterward and Susan starts to ramble, but Richard is lost in thoughts of Kainene. Susan says she has had heard about his “lady love,” and she tells him that... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 23
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...Richard’s house. They talk nervously and both decide to keep what happened a secret from Kainene. Soon afterward Olanna tells Odenigbo, though, after he asks her to move back in with... (full context)
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Olanna gets up and calls Kainene to make sure Richard hasn’t confessed. Kainene is her usual sardonic self, making fun of... (full context)
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...it is a bad idea when she calls her, but Olanna is resolved. She calls Kainene, who at first is sarcastic, but then says she thinks it is very brave. Olanna... (full context)
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...this. She says she wants the baby’s name to be Chiamaka, “God is beautiful,” which Kainene suggested. (full context)
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Olanna tries to call Kainene a few times that evening, and finally she picks up. Kainene immediately says “you fucked... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 24
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...keep his mouth shut. In the process of boasting about his own cooking, he told Kainene that Odenigbo yelled at Richard, and Richard isn’t allowed at Odenigbo’s anymore. Kainene asks about... (full context)
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Later that night Kainene tells Richard that she spoke to Olanna. She says it would have been forgivable with... (full context)
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The next morning Richard wants to talk, but Kainene says they will talk when she is ready. Later in the day Olanna and Odenigbo... (full context)
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Kainene then tells Richard that she took his manuscript and burned it that morning. Richard is... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 25
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...of ancient warriors defeating the vandals. Olanna likes her because her fearlessness reminds her of Kainene. Olanna shows her a picture of Kainene, but Mrs. Muokelu says the twins don’t look... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 27
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Harrison hopes he can stay with Richard and Kainene, and Richard agrees, as only one of Kainene’s stewards is left, a man named Ikejide.... (full context)
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...Richard feels especially attached to the town, as it is the place where he and Kainene have been happy together. (full context)
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Kainene comes home and laughs at Harrison’s beet story. She says she got a letter from... (full context)
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...Von Rosen greets Richard and offers him some cheese. He says he has heard about Kainene, and Richard shows him a picture of her and then of the roped pot, saying... (full context)
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Richard and Kainene go to visit their new house being built in Orlu, and on their way out... (full context)
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As they drive on Kainene criticizes the Biafran propaganda, which whips up paranoia about saboteurs and bombs being hidden in... (full context)
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Richard and Kainene return to Port Harcourt, and Madu calls. He says people have been attacking British people... (full context)
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...is no cause for alarm!” Later that day Richard hears shelling nearby, and he and Kainene decide to evacuate. Richard cannot find the notes for his latest article about the ogbunigwe,... (full context)
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...Ikejide drag their suitcases outside as an air raid begins in Port Harcourt. Richard and Kainene hide under an orange tree and Harrison falls flat on the ground, but Ikejide starts... (full context)
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They reach their house but the carpentry work still isn’t finished. Kainene finds a new carpenter, but the man wants to be paid in food. He says... (full context)
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Kainene becomes the food supplier for the refugee camp in Orlu, and she seems to gain... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 28
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One afternoon Kainene appears. Olanna embraces her uncertainly, feeling self-conscious about her squalid room. The two sisters sit... (full context)
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Kainene says she should stop calling the child “Baby,” but call her Chiamaka instead, and Olanna... (full context)
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A few days later Olanna goes to Orlu, and Harrison greets her. Kainene is there, and she hugs Olanna. Kainene says that Richard left early, probably to avoid... (full context)
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Kainene takes Olanna to the refugee camp she runs, and shows her around. Inside the smell... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 29
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While Olanna is away visiting Kainene, Ugwu overhears Odenigbo talking and laughing with Alice. The next day Odenigbo and Alice sit... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 30
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The Americans ask about the women in Nigeria, and Richard defensively mentions Kainene. They reach the refugee camp and the Americans are horrified to see a group of... (full context)
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Richard goes home and tells Kainene his title. She is wary of the word “we,” and he counters that the Nigerian... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 31
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...man in an outhouse. When she gets home there is an army jeep outside, and Kainene tells her that Ugwu has died. Olanna can only say “no” and shake her head.... (full context)
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They reach Kainene’s house in Orlu and unpack their things. They have dinner with Kainene and Richard. Richard... (full context)
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Olanna then comes back out and talks to Kainene. She tells her that Odenigbo “has become somebody else,” drinking all day and possibly sleeping... (full context)
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In the morning Kainene and Olanna share some face cream and then go to the refugee camp. The children... (full context)
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Kainene then asks Olanna why she was always so eager to please their parents. Olanna says... (full context)
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...children. Their starvation makes them start losing their memories, and their hair starts falling out. Kainene tries to start a garden, but the soil is too dry and nothing grows. The... (full context)
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Olanna and Kainene always walk home together, discussing Odenigbo and the war. Kainene affirms that Biafra will win,... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 32
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One day Kainene learns that Father Marcel, a priest working at the refugee camp, is the father of... (full context)
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At night Ugwu listens to Olanna and Kainene talk, creating “their own world” that Odenigbo and Richard can never enter, and he uses... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 33
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Richard sits with Kainene, Olanna, and Odenigbo as they eat and laugh together. Richard has started to enjoy these... (full context)
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Kainene says that she wants to cross over to a Nigerian-occupied market to trade for things.... (full context)
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The next morning Richard and Kainene wake up early to see a crowd kicking at a young soldier – half of... (full context)
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Richard visits “Big Men” all day, but when he comes home Kainene is still gone. He talks to Olanna, who criticizes the Biafran plan to rely on... (full context)
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Odenigbo asks Richard about Kainene and then turns on the radio. Ojukwu is announcing that he will go abroad in... (full context)
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Two days pass, and Richard starts to slip into despair. Odenigbo says that Kainene is probably just held up on the other side, as delays happen all the time,... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 34
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...hair keeps falling out even though Olanna brushes it gently. A week has passed since Kainene’s disappearance. There are rumors that Ojukwu didn’t leave in search of peace, but instead ran... (full context)
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Odenigbo and Richard return from searching for Kainene, but they have no success. A few days later Olanna goes to check the mortuary... (full context)
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...and cannot believe it. After a while she says that now she can go find Kainene. (full context)
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...between Biafra and Nigeria, but Odenigbo wants to pack so they can go look for Kainene as soon as they open. (full context)
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...that the roads open. Olanna and Odenigbo go the next morning, leaving a note for Kainene if she should return there. The family heads towards Nsukka, and they pass a few... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 35
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...returns to Nsukka but doesn’t tell Olanna about Anulika. Olanna is still preoccupied with finding Kainene, and is convinced that she is still alive. Ugwu cleans the house and then goes... (full context)
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...with him. Richard says he will look for it. He is going to search for Kainene in Port Harcourt, Umuahia, and Lagos. (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 36
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...the house now, and she won’t even let Richard in to look for photographs of Kainene. (full context)
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Richard then goes to Kainene’s old house in Port Harcourt, only because Kainene’s mother asked him to. She had originally... (full context)
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Richard then goes to Lagos, where Kainene’s parents greet him. After lunch Richard goes onto the veranda with Madu. Madu says the... (full context)
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...helps him up and examines his nose. Richard suddenly realizes that he will never see Kainene again, and his life will be dark and shadowy from now on. (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 37
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Olanna experiences mood swings between great hope and crippling despair. She cannot even grieve for Kainene, because she still doesn’t know where she is or whether she is alive or not.... (full context)
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...erased, and she feels naked without all her savings. She starts looking for signs about Kainene’s fate in Baby’s questions, and she even consults a dibia (medicine man). (full context)
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...old Igbo belief that people are reincarnated, and she declares that in her next life Kainene will be her sister. The book ends with the dedication of The World Was Silent... (full context)