The Thing Around Your Neck

by

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Nigerian Food Symbol Icon

For the characters in the United States, food is a way to connect with the life they left behind in Nigeria. Characters like Akunna derive comfort from discovering their local African foods store, while others like Chinaza attempt to bring as much food as they can from home to the United States with them. When customs seizes some of Chinaza's food items for fear that she'd attempt to plant some of the (dried and dead) seeds, it shows how unyielding the United States can be to its immigrant population. Chinaza's husband, Ofodile, joins the cause of customs by insisting that Chinaza not cook traditional Nigerian dishes, so that they won’t be known as "the people who fill the building with smells of foreign food," indicating that though traditional food is undeniably comforting for people like Chinaza and Akunna, for others it's an unpleasant and unwelcome reminder of their ties to another country.

Nigerian Food Quotes in The Thing Around Your Neck

The The Thing Around Your Neck quotes below all refer to the symbol of Nigerian Food. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of The Thing Around Your Neck published in 2009.
The Shivering Quotes

Staid, and yet she had been arranging her life around his for three years... Staid, and yet she cooked her stews with hot peppers now, the way he liked.

Related Characters: Ukamaka, Chinedu, Udenna
Related Symbols: Nigerian Food
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nigerian Food Symbol Timeline in The Thing Around Your Neck

The timeline below shows where the symbol Nigerian Food appears in The Thing Around Your Neck. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Cell One
Stories and Representation  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
The Cell One narrator describes the Enugu police station. Mother bribes the officers with food and money, and they allow Nnamabia to sit outside with his family. Nnamabia looks like... (full context)
Imitation
Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Family and Lies Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...skin as punishment, and Nkem thinks that it's hard to find real yams at the African grocery in America. She thinks about how similar her own childhood was to Amaechi's, and how... (full context)
The Thing Around Your Neck
Stories and Representation  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...the boy says he is, and then is pleased he fooled the owner. Akunna cooks onugbu soup and the boy vomits later. Akunna doesn't mind, because the boy is vegetarian, and now... (full context)
The Shivering
Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Family and Lies Theme Icon
...even though Ukamaka had been planning her life to accommodate his wishes. Ukamaka cooked with hot peppers to please him, even though she didn't like them. (full context)
Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Family and Lies Theme Icon
Ukamaka asks if the stew is too peppery, and explains that she only started cooking with hot peppers when she... (full context)
The Arrangers of Marriage
Stories and Representation  Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...tired from her flight from Lagos to New York, and the experience of having her foodstuffs confiscated at customs, that she can only agree. (full context)
Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Family and Lies Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...the next day he brings Chinaza an American cookbook and tells her to cook American food. Chinaza thinks about the cookbook as they have sex that night, and she struggles to... (full context)
Tomorrow is Too Far
Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Family and Lies Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
...narrator suggested Nonso climb the avocado tree. Nonso was heavy from eating all of Grandmama's food. Grandmama constantly reminded the children that she made the food for Nonso, as if the... (full context)