Half of a Yellow Sun deals with political and historical events but it is also deeply personal, particularly in the love between its characters. The romantic relationships between Olanna and Odenigbo, Kainene and Richard, and Ugwu’s infatuation with Eberechi are at the center of the novel, as well as the sibling love between Olanna and Kainene. As with everything in the book, the personal is affected by the political and vice versa: Olanna’s love for Odenigbo brings her into his world of radical politics, and Richard’s love for Kainene causes him to cross racial and political boundaries.
The love between the sisters becomes a sort of symbol for the unity of Nigeria, as they painfully cut off ties but are eventually reunited. Ugwu’s longings for Nnesinachi and Eberechi are thwarted by the war, and then as a soldier he commits the atrocity of rape – the ultimate corruption of love. The love between Kainene and Richard and the love between the sisters seems the most enduring of the book, which makes it all the more tragic when Kainene disappears. Ultimately Adichie delves into all the deep aspects of the human experience: sex as well as violence, romance as well as cruelty, and though she shows great injustice and pain she also portrays love that can withstand such suffering.
Love Quotes in Half of a Yellow Sun
Ugwu suddenly wished that Master would not touch his mother because her clothes smelled of age and must, and because Master did not know that her back ached and her cocoyam patch always yielded a poor harvest and her chest was indeed on fire when she coughed. What did Master know about anything anyway, since all he did was shout with his friends and drink brandy at night?
She would not let him make her feel that there was something wrong with her. It was her right to be upset, her right to choose not to brush her humiliation aside in the name of overexalted intellectualism, and she would claim that right. “Go.” She gestured toward the door. “Go and play your tennis and don’t come back here.”
She watched him get up and leave. He banged the door. They had never had a quarrel; he had never been impatient with dissent from her as he was with others. Or it may simply be that he humored her and did not think much of her opinions in the first place.
Olanna had wanted to give the scent of his mother’s visit some time to diffuse before telling him she wanted to have a child, and yet here he was, voicing her own desire before she could. She looked at him in wonder. This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles.
She opened the calabash.
“Take a look,” she said again.
Olanna looked into the bowl. She saw the little girl’s head with the ashy-gray skin and the braided hair and rolled-back eyes and open mouth. She stared at it for a while before she looked away. Somebody screamed.
The woman closed the calabash. “Do you know,” she said, “it took me so long to plait this hair? She had such thick hair.”
The train had stopped with a rusty screech. Olanna got down and stood in the jostling crowd. A woman fainted… She thought about the plaited hair resting in the calabash. She visualised the mother braiding it, her fingers oiling it with pomade before dividing it into sections with a wooden comb.
“You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?” Aunty Ifeka said. “Your life belongs to you and you alone, soso gi. You will go back on Saturday.”
Or she should have told him more: that she regretted betraying Kainene and him but did not regret the act itself. She should have said that it was not a crude revenge, or a scorekeeping, but took on a redemptive significance for her. She should have said the selfishness had liberated her.
“I will never forgive myself if I lose you, Kainene.”
Her face was expressionless. “I took your manuscript from the study this morning and I burned it,” she said.
Richard felt a soar in his chest of emotions he could not name. “The Basket of Hands,” the collection of pages that he was finally confident could become a book, was gone… But it did not matter. What mattered was that by burning the manuscript she had shown him that she would not end the relationship; she would not bother to cause him pain if she was not going to stay. Perhaps he was not a true writer after all. He had read somewhere that, for true writers, nothing was more important than their art, not even love.
“Yes, good. There’s something very lazy about the way you have loved him so blindly for so long without ever criticizing him. You’ve never even accepted that the man is ugly,” Kainene said.
Richard showed them Kainene’s picture. Sometimes, in his rush, he pulled out the picture of the roped pot instead. Nobody had seen her… On the drive back, Richard began to cry.
Madu got up. Richard reached out and grasped his arm. Come back, he wanted to say, come back here and tell me if you ever laid your filthy black hand on her. Madu shrugged Richard’s hand off…
Darkness descended on him, and when it lifted he knew that he would never see Kainene again and that his life would always be like a candlelit room; he would see things only in shadows, only in half glimpses.