Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun Part 4, Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Baby’s hair keeps falling out even though Olanna brushes it gently. A week has passed since Kainene’s disappearance. There are rumors that Ojukwu didn’t leave in search of peace, but instead ran away. Olanna refuses to believe this. Ugwu comes in and Olanna tells him that she keeps thinking about the braided hair of the child’s head in the calabash. Ugwu writes down her story. Olanna suddenly feels that his writing makes her story important, and she keeps talking.
Despite Olanna’s attempts to protect Baby from the world, the child is still dangerously close to starvation and kwashiorkor. We now start to suspect that the author of “The World Was Silent When We Died” isn’t Richard at all. Olanna gains confidence by knowing that her story is important and will be heard.
Themes
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
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Odenigbo and Richard return from searching for Kainene, but they have no success. A few days later Olanna goes to check the mortuary for her sister’s body, though she knows that even if Kainene is dead she wouldn’t be there. People are crowded outside the mortuary, crying to identify dead family members. Olanna gets in with a note from Madu. As she looks at all the dead women, she thinks of the line from Okeoma’s poem: “If the sun refuses to rise, we will make it rise.” She vomits.
Olanna still has a little privilege even as she goes to try and identify her sister’s body. She knows that Kainene won’t be in a Biafran mortuary, but she feels the need to take some kind of action in the face of such horror and uncertainty. Okeoma’s inspirational poem now seems tragic considering his own fate and the fate of Biafra’s yellow sun.
Themes
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War and Violence Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Later that day a woman suddenly rushes into the family’s yard carrying a green branch and saying that the war is over. Odenigbo turns on the radio. An unfamiliar voice defends the Biafran cause but says that there is no option left but to surrender, as the suffering of the Biafran civilians has grown too great. Olanna gets dizzy and cannot believe it. After a while she says that now she can go find Kainene.
Olanna, like many Biafrans, has been clinging to hope even in the midst of a living hell, and so this surrender comes as a surprise to her. The war is finally over – starvation, famine, violence, and foreign antagonism have broken Biafra at last.
Themes
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Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
A week passes before Olanna sees some Nigerian soldiers. They are smartly dressed and laughing, promising to give girls food if they marry them. The roads are still closed between Biafra and Nigeria, but Odenigbo wants to pack so they can go look for Kainene as soon as they open.
The contrast between the well-fed, well-dressed Nigerian troops and the starving Biafrans is especially heartbreaking. Now begins the painful reunion of the shattered country.
Themes
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Race and Culture Theme Icon
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Olanna’s cousin Odinchezo staggers into the compound on his way to another town. He says that the Hausa soldiers didn’t give him trouble on the road, though they asked him to urinate on a picture of Ojukwu. Odinchezo says he has heard that the government will take over all Biafran bank accounts. Soon the markets are full of food again, and Olanna stares at it all in disbelief.
The Nigerian government doesn’t exactly welcome the Biafrans back with open arms. Nigeria did indeed liquidate all Biafran bank accounts, no matter how wealthy the person was before, and they gave every Biafran 20 Nigerian pounds with which to start their lives over.
Themes
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Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Richard leaves on the night that the roads open. Olanna and Odenigbo go the next morning, leaving a note for Kainene if she should return there. The family heads towards Nsukka, and they pass a few checkpoints without incident. Olanna marvels at all the Nigerian vehicles that the Biafrans destroyed. Olanna still cannot believe that Biafra lost, and she feels cheated. They finally reach their old house, which is still standing. Mama has been buried in the yard by Odenigbo’s cousin.
The themes of loyalty and betrayal again expand to the political, as the divided country attempts to reunite, and Olanna feels cheated by Biafra itself – having invested so much hope, suffering, and struggle in what was ultimately a lost cause. Richard starts to drift further away from reality and his friends as Kainene’s loss tortures him.
Themes
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Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
They keep driving into Nsukka and are stopped by a belligerent Nigerian officer. The officer makes Odenigbo and Ugwu get out of the car and carry wood, and he slaps Odenigbo for resisting. Then he makes Olanna get out and work too. Olanna warns a man leering at her not to touch her, but the officer says that his troops are well trained, unlike the Biafrans, and no one will touch her.
The Nigerian soldiers can basically act with impunity and treat the “rebels” as badly as they want. The officer’s jibe about his troops being well-trained is especially poignant because of the truth behind it – Nigerian soldiers did rape civilians, but so did the Biafrans (like Ugwu).
Themes
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Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
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They watch the officer stop a man wearing glasses, remove him from his car, and flog him. Odenigbo had removed his glasses earlier, to avoid looking like an intellectual The Nigerian assumes the man with glasses wrote propaganda for Ojukwu. The officer finally sends Odenigbo and Olanna on their way.
Far from being a peacefully united country, there is still rampant violence and ethnic hatred. The distrust of the Igbo will take a long time to go away, and even still exists in present-day Nigeria.
Themes
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Loyalty and Betrayal Theme Icon
War and Violence Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon