The narrative now follows Olanna. Odenigbo shows up at her house and tries to dismiss the incident, saying that his mother is “just a village woman” trying to deal with the modern world. Olanna is still very upset, though she isn’t sure why. Odenigbo declares that he will stay at Olanna’s tonight, but she decides to say no to this. He is shocked, but she feels suddenly like she wants to be free of him, and she tells Odenigbo to leave. He storms out.
Another important arc to the novel is the less-confident characters (Olanna and Richard) finding their voices and becoming independent. Unfortunately this usually comes about through betrayal and conflict – just like the real “independence” of Nigeria will involve Civil War and horrible violence.
Olanna realizes that they have never fought before, and she wonders if Odenigbo really values 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 silent in response, and finally Olanna changes the subject and hangs up.
Olanna is trying to assert her independence and right to be offended, but she still can’t help leaning on others in her distress. The initial distance between the sisters seems to involve Kainene being both jealous of and disappointed in Olanna.
Olanna wishes she was more confident and didn’t need someone to lean on, but she tries to call Mohammed anyway even though she knows he isn’t home. Olanna is suddenly struck with the realization that she wants to have Odenigbo’s child. They had never discussed children before. Odenigbo then shows up and apologizes, and Olanna tells him to stay with her.
Adichie’s characters are wonderfully complex in their inner contradictions and spontaneous, often unreasonable decisions that still always fit with their personalities. This is Olanna’s first assertion of independence during her relationship with Odenigbo, but she remains loyal and faithful.
When Odenigbo’s mother leaves, Olanna moves back into his house. Ugwu is concerned, as he saw a black cat near the house, and he warns Olanna and Odenigbo that “Mama” might have tried to curse Olanna. Olanna reassures him that “nothing can divide” her and Odenigbo, but she wonders to herself if this is true.
Ugwu is already becoming responsible and almost paternal in his protectiveness of Olanna and Odenigbo’s relationship and happiness. They represent stability for Ugwu, but we get to see Olanna’s point of view, where the relationship is still fragile.
One day Richard knocks on the door when Odenigbo is out. Olanna answers and tries to engage him in conversation, but he is awkward and shy. The next morning Odenigbo tells Olanna that they should have a child together. Olanna feels that this is a kind of miraculous coincidence of love, as she hadn’t told Odenigbo about her new desire for a child. She agrees, and they stay in that morning to have sex. Olanna starts to worry that something is wrong with her body though, and that she won’t be able to conceive.
We know from Richard’s sections that he finds Olanna very attractive, and Olanna is used to this kind of attention from men but she finds the shy Richard sympathetic. After their first argument, this coincidence of Olanna’s and Odenigbo’s desires returns the hope and excitement to their relationship. There is deeper love here as well as sexual desire and intellectual admiration.