Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun Part 2, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The story now follows Richard, who is just touching down 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 of emotion from her. Richard walks out of the plane and decides he will propose to Kainene when he reaches Port Harcourt.
Adichie again juxtaposes scenes of horror with scenes of love and optimism. Kainene has another rare outburst like the hug she gave Richard when he left Susan. By setting such scenes next to each other, Adichie shows that love is just as important as war.
Themes
Love Theme Icon
Richard talks to the customs 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 as Nnaemeka. Nnaemeka starts to ramble about his family until a voice calls the passengers to their next flight. Richard bids him farewell.
Richard is feeling especially buoyant after reading Kainene’s note, and he is already imagining their peaceful, happy life together. Nnaemeka then serves to solidify Richard’s feeling of “belonging” in Nigeria.
Themes
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Suddenly soldiers burst into the airport and start yelling for the Igbo “infidels” to identify themselves. One tells Nnaemeka to say “Allahu Akbar,” but Nnaemeka won’t, as he knows his Igbo accent will give him away. Richard sees the terror in his eyes, and then the soldier shoots Nnaemeka. The soldiers go on to shoot everyone speaking Igbo, and then to shoot all the bottles of liquor in the bar. They pull people out of the plane about to leave and shoot them too. Richard vomits and then gets on his next flight.
After the last scene, this is almost surreal in its horror. Nnaemeka had been a pleasant distraction for Richard’s lovestruck optimism, but now he is suddenly watching the man die. Richard has learned Igbo and loves an Igbo woman, but he still has both the privilege and outsider-status of being a white Englishman. He is allowed to get on his flight without being hassled.
Themes
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Richard comes to his old girlfriend Susan’s house in Lagos. She is totally calm and makes small talk with Richard, who is traumatized. Susan knows about the massacres going on, but she isn’t concerned about them. She says the Igbo had it coming to them, as they were acting “very Jewish” and controlling all the markets. She comments on how the Nigerians can’t control their hatred of each other, as they are uncivilized.
Susan has dehumanized all Africans just like many Igbo and Hausa have dehumanized each other, and so she can view the massacre from a detached, unsympathetic point of view. Susan is horribly hypocritical in calling the Hausa uncivilized for their hatred while in the same breath criticizing the Igbo as “Jewish” – the Holocaust was only two decades old.
Themes
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Get the entire Half of a Yellow Sun LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Richard goes into the bathroom and looks at himself in the mirror, feeling ashamed. He feels that he 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.
Now that he has been struck by horrible reality, Richard starts to see how he hasn’t really escaped his English worldview – Kainene has become a real person to him, but the suffering of other Nigerians still seems unreal.
Themes
War and Violence Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
There is another section about The World Was Silent When We Died. The author of the book writes about the political forces that led to this Igbo massacre. When Nigeria was gaining independence, the North wanted to secede from the South, but Britain wanted to preserve the country as a whole because of its oil reserves in the Southeast. It rigged the government so the North would rule, and the South was so eager for independence that they agreed. Nigeria gained independence in 1960, and the author describes it as “a collection of fragments in a fragile clasp.”
The immediate facts of the massacres make them seem like the product of natural religious and ethnic tensions, but the reality is that these tensions were almost non-existent before England mashed together the disparate societies that became “Nigeria.” Nigeria gained its independence years before, but at its very foundations it was always destined for inner strife.
Themes
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon