The narrative returns to where it left off in Part One. Ugwu is talking with Harrison and trying to butter him up to ask about getting tear gas. Ugwu heard about tear gas as something police use to make people pass out. He wants some to use on Nnesinachi when he goes home to take Richard to the ori-okpa festival. Ugwu soon realizes that Harrison doesn’t know what tear gas is, so he goes to ask Jomo.
It’s a relief to leave the escalating violence of the late sixties and return to the relative peace of a few years before. There is a sinister foreshadowing about the fact that Ugwu is childishly planning a rape, though.
Jomo laughs at Ugwu when he hears what the tear gas is for. Jomo says to just wait until the time is right and the girl likes him. Ugwu keeps this in mind, and the next day he returns to Opi with Richard. He is heartbroken to hear that Nnesinachi left for the North the week before. Ugwu is irritable and depressed for the rest of the visit, while Richard happily takes notes and photographs the ori-okpa festival.
This is a masquerade festival that involves eating “okpa,” a soy cake. Adichie frames the novel so that we see Nigeria split apart and then jump back in time to see the twin sisters split apart. Ugwu is again frustrated in his desire for Nnesinachi.
Ugwu and Richard drive back to Nsukka, and Ugwu is surprised to find Odenigbo’s mother and Amala at Odenigbo’s house. Even Odenigbo didn’t know they were coming. “Mama” sends Ugwu away, saying she will cook for her son, and she disparages Olanna, who is in London. Ugwu listens to Odenigbo arguing in the other room, criticizing Britain. Ugwu doesn’t understand why white people are always taking things from black people for no reason at all.
Ugwu watches Mama (Odenigbo’s mother) put a packet of spices into Odenigbo’s soup, and he grows suspicious, worrying that she is trying a curse again. That night Ugwu sneaks some of the palm wine that Mama brought, and he gets very drunk and passes out. The next morning he sees Mama rubbing something on Amala’s back, and again he worries about magic. He is apprehensive because Mama seems so cheerful.
Ugwu is already feeling responsible for Olanna’s happiness, and he worries that Mama is trying to disrupt her relationship with Odenigbo through magic or trickery. We see this part through Ugwu’s eyes, and he is confirmed in his beliefs – Mama’s “magic” works.
The next evening Ugwu finds a mass of flies in the sink, which he knows is the sign of something bad. He tries to tell Odenigbo, who seems unperturbed. That night Ugwu keeps waking up, and he starts to clean to keep himself from nightmares. In the early morning he sees Amala leaving Odenigbo’s bedroom. Ugwu is sure that this was the result of Mama’s “medicine,” and he worries what will happen if Olanna finds out.
This is the first great romantic betrayal between the protagonists, and the catalyst for the fighting that will follow. The small moment of Amala leaving Odenigbo’s bedroom is like a mini-version of the first coup in the Nigerian government.