Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun Part 4, Chapter 32 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrative returns to Ugwu, who is badly wounded but alive. Some soldiers carry him to a hospital, and he is excruciatingly thirsty but no one brings him water. He feels himself bleeding, and has visions of Eberechi and of Death as a “complete knowingness.” One night a priest comes, and Ugwu recognizes him as Father Damian, a priest who worked with Olanna in Nsukka. Father Damian promises to tell Odenigbo about Ugwu, and he gives him some milk and sugar.
More characters return from the old peaceful days, for better or for worse. The hospitals are clearly stretched beyond capacity, as little can be done even for a wounded soldier – and even less attention is paid to civilians.
Themes
War and Violence Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
A few days later Richard comes for Ugwu and takes him away in his car. Ugwu’s wounds are exacerbated by the bumpy car, but finally they reach a hospital more equipped to deal with its patients. Richard rambles and Ugwu is comforted by the sound of his voice, as it reminds him of the old days in Nsukka. Richard says that Ugwu said the name “Eberechi” many times in his sleep, and he asks Ugwu about her.
In his near-death experience Ugwu clings to the things most important to him – his love for Eberechi, and his happy memories with Olanna and Odenigbo in Nsukka.
Themes
War and Violence Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Richard asks if Ugwu was afraid in the war. Ugwu answers that he found the Frederick Douglass book, and was “so sad and angry for the writer.” Richard says he will use this in his own book, and Ugwu asks him about it. Richard tells him the title. Ugwu says “The World Was Silent When We Died” to himself, and he is haunted by the face of the bar girl.
Another thing still sacred to Ugwu in his numbness is the Frederick Douglass book. This is an especially poignant example of the power of art and writing in times of great despair. Now that he has some distance from war, Ugwu is horrified by the rape he committed.
Themes
War and Violence Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
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When Ugwu comes home Olanna and Odenigbo hug him, which they have never done before. Ugwu starts to cry and tells the story of his experiences, using “words like enemy fire and Attack HQ with a casual coldness.” Olanna tells him that Okeoma is dead, and that Adanna died of kwashiorkor. Ugwu has a wound in one of his buttocks, so he lies on his side for weeks. Olanna feeds him and keeps up his will to live.
All the divides between “houseboy” and “master” have been broken down by now. This is a time of relief, but also a time to assess how truly horrible the situation is – this is a teenage boy numbly discussing his war experience and being told about children starving to death.
Themes
War and Violence Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
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Ugwu relives his battle experiences over and over, along with the face of the bar girl. Once he dreams of her, but her face is Eberechi’s. He wakes up and hates himself. Ugwu decides to give himself time to redeem himself, and to then go find Eberechi. If she is still waiting for him, it will be a sign that he has atoned for his sins.
Ugwu’s past experiences with girls – his lust for Nnesinachi and desire for tear gas, his love for Eberechi and wish to respect her, and his imaginings of a monstrous Hausa soldier raping his loved ones – all come to a head as he is haunted by his great sin.
Themes
War and Violence Theme Icon
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As Ugwu heals he starts working at the refugee camp during the day and writing at night. First he writes letters, then a poem, and then he starts to write about his experiences. Ugwu laments that he will never be able to capture the essences of the boys hunting for lizards, or the bombs falling on hungry people, but he resolves to try. The more he writes, the fewer nightmares he has.
Ugwu was saved from total despair and numbness by the Frederick Douglass book, and now he turns again to art and writing to keep himself from giving up the will to live. His struggle to write about the suffering Biafrans becomes Adichie’s own struggle, and we see the enormity of the thing she is trying to portray.
Themes
War and Violence Theme Icon
One day Kainene learns that Father Marcel, a priest working at the refugee camp, is the father of a young girl’s child, and he has been sleeping with many of the refugees before giving them food. Kainene throws him out, growing “magnificent in her rage.” Ugwu is ashamed and thinks that Kainene, Olanna, and Eberechi would all hate him if they knew what he had done.
Ugwu feels (rightfully) that he has betrayed his own former self and all the women in his life, but he becomes determined to bring some good out of the evil he has suffered and caused. Father Marcel is yet another example of the lows humanity can sink to in times of great need.
Themes
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
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At night Ugwu listens to Olanna and Kainene talk, creating “their own world” that Odenigbo and Richard can never enter, and he uses their words as inspiration for his writing. Harrison sometimes sits with Ugwu, and is respectful to him now that he has fought for Biafra. When they listen to the radio Ugwu walks away, as he cannot stomach the false optimism of the Biafran propaganda.
Ugwu starts to see things clearly, things which Adichie has shown all along but none of the characters have accepted – that the sisters’ most important relationship is with each other (not with their romantic partners) and that the Biafran propaganda is mostly lies at this point.
Themes
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
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One day Ojukwu is about to give a speech, but Ugwu tells Harrison to turn the radio off – he would rather hear the birds. Harrison is offended and says that it will be a great speech, and Ugwu says “there is no such thing as greatness.” Ugwu watches four children playing War. Yesterday they had been five, but one had died of kwashiorkor. That child, whose name Ugwu cannot remember, had once been left out with his mother during an air raid, and Ugwu had run out and grabbed him. Ugwu gets up and goes to help dig a grave for the child.
Ugwu’s numbness seems like a sign of PTSD, and at the very least he has been totally desensitized to Biafran propaganda and false hope. This is the bleak ending to possibly the book’s most important (and most powerful) chapter, where Ugwu and Biafra both hit rock bottom, but Ugwu struggles against his despair and self-loathing and tries to cling to humanity and love.
Themes
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon