The story returns to Ugwu, who is with Odenigbo delivering food for refugees. The man at the office says that people have stopped giving food, and that “it will be a disaster if war comes.” Odenigbo snaps at him that there will be no war. Ugwu is saddened that Odenigbo is always short-tempered lately. Later that day he hears Odenigbo arguing loudly with Miss Adebayo, accusing her of having no sympathy for the Igbo plight because she is Yoruba. Miss Adebayo storms out.
The peaceful scenes at Odenigbo’s have now come to an end. Odenigbo is still filled with blinding loyalty to Biafra, so he continues to deny the reality that Biafra is unprepared for war. Even friends like Odenigbo and Miss Adebayo are driven apart by the ethnic tension caused by the massacres, secession, and looming war.
Ugwu then hears Okeoma reciting one of his poems, “If the sun refuses to rise, we will make it rise.” Olanna angrily tells Odenigbo that he must apologize to Miss Adebayo, and he finally relents. Olanna and Odenigbo leave, and then Chinyere stops by to say goodbye to Ugwu, as her master is evacuating. They have hardly ever spoken before, but they tell each other to “go well.” Ugwu is distraught by all the changes happening so quickly.
Okeoma’s poem is an eloquent comment on the desperate hope the Igbo have in Biafra. The half of a yellow sun is not actually predicting a glorious future for Biafra, but in the hearts of its fervently optimistic people it seems to be. Ugwu’s relationship with Chinyere has never moved beyond the sexual.
Many people have been leaving the university, hoping to avoid war, but the men are not allowed to leave so as not to start a panic. Ugwu’s Aunty arrives and says that Anulika will be married soon. She wants to do it before the war starts. Ugwu looks forward to going home for this, as he plans to finally sleep with Nnesinachi. That night the radio says that Nigeria will begin a “police action to bring back the rebels of Biafra.”
This “police action” is the first real step towards civil war. Part of the forced optimism and denial of reality that plagues Biafra is this reinforcement that “there is no cause for alarm.” Even when a town is about to fall, people are prevented from escaping in time because it might cause a panic and loss of hope.
One day Olanna and Ugwu are cooking, and Olanna talks about how there have been “reprisal killings” of Northern soldiers in Biafra. Ugwu says that the Biafrans are still better than the Hausa, but Olanna says everyone is capable of the same things. Suddenly they hear distant booms, and realize that the Nigerians are advancing. A car pulls up and a man shouts that everyone in Nsukka should evacuate immediately.
This is the same cycle of dehumanization that led to the Igbo massacres in the first place, and which only serves to further the hatred between groups that had previously lived together peacefully. After denying the possibility of defeat for so long, suddenly Nsukka crumbles.
Olanna, Odenigbo, and Ugwu hurriedly gather up their precious possessions and leave with Baby. Biafran soldiers at the town gates wave them through, and Ugwu wishes he was one of the soldiers. They look proud and brave in their uniforms, with half a yellow sun on their sleeves. The road is crowded, and Ugwu laments that he has again failed to have sex with Nnesinachi. The family finally arrives in Abba.
The Biafran flag and the half of a yellow sun is still a symbol of great hope for the Igbo, even as Olanna’s family evacuates their home. Ugwu now idealizes the soldiers, but their images will become tarnished as the war progresses.