Half the Sky

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Harper McConnell Character Analysis

Harper McConnell is a young white American woman whom Kristof met in war-torn Congo. She lives full time in Congo, speaks Swahili, and dedicates her time to projects with HEAL Africa, a hospital that gives exceptional care to Congolese women. Harper represents the type of dedication to combating global injustice that the authors wish to see in more young Americans.

Harper McConnell Quotes in Half the Sky

The Half the Sky quotes below are all either spoken by Harper McConnell or refer to Harper McConnell. 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:
The Oppression of Women  Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Half the Sky published in 2010.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Young people often ask us how they can help address issues like sex trafficking or international poverty. Our first recommendation to them is to get out and see the world. If you can’t do that, it’s great to raise money or attention at home. But to tackle an issue effectively, you need to understand it —and it’s impossible to understand an issue by simply reading about it. You need to see it firsthand, even live in its midst. One of the great failings of the American education system, in our view, is that young people can graduate from university without any understanding of poverty at home or abroad.” Chapter 5

Related Characters: Nicholas D. Kristof (speaker), Sheryl WuDunn (speaker), Harper McConnell
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

The authors have just introduced Harper McConnell as a young American who exemplifies engaged, sensitive commitment to human rights work in Congo. In this quote, the authors make the case that the best engagement with humanitarian issues occurs when those issues are intimately known, through personal exposure. This position relates to the point made elsewhere in Half the Sky, that the best aid groups aren’t stuck in abstract dialogue about human rights, at conferences or bureaucratic events, but are on the ground listening and learning about issues firsthand. Kristof and WuDunn encourage readers, and all Americans, to leave their comfort zones and develop more worldly priorities. Moreover, the authors lightly criticize the insular nature of universities, which ostensibly make students more worldly and cultured, yet don’t necessarily expose them to economic realities.


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Harper McConnell Character Timeline in Half the Sky

The timeline below shows where the character Harper McConnell appears in Half the Sky. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
The Complexity of Aid Theme Icon
Solutions to Address the Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...WuDunn describe HEAL Africa as a “sanctuary of dignity” from the misogyny in Congo, where Harper McConnell, a young American women, among others, gives important help to patients. Using Harper as... (full context)
Universal Benefits of Women’s Empowerment  Theme Icon
Solutions to Address the Oppression of Women Theme Icon
After Harper graduated from the University of Minnesota, unsure of what to do with her life, she... (full context)