The Thing Around Your Neck


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Thing Around Your Neck can help.
Themes and Colors
Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Stories and Representation  Theme Icon
Family and Lies Theme Icon
Colonialism and Violence Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Thing Around Your Neck, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles

Many of the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck focus on fraught relationships between men and women. Specifically, Adichie explores the roles women are asked to play within their birth families and then in their romantic relationships. Most of the coupled female characters subsume themselves in favor of their husbands or partners and lose sight of their own identities and sense of agency in the process. The stories question how and why this happens…

read analysis of Women, Marriage, and Gender Roles

Stories and Representation

Adichie's collection splits its time between America and Nigeria, primarily in the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s. As the Nigerian characters encounter white Americans, black Americans, and other Nigerians of different economic classes, they run up against differing ideas about what Nigeria is again and again. As such, many of the stories concern themselves directly with what it means to be Nigerian and the problems that arise when others have very narrow views of what…

read analysis of Stories and Representation

Family and Lies

For many of the book’s characters, love and family are driving forces in their lives. While several of the stories are concerned specifically with romantic (and often married) relationships, Adichie also explores the inter-generational relationships between parents, children, siblings, and grandparents. Specifically, she explores the instances in which individual family members lie or tell stories in order to preserve their family, break it down, or attempt to earn the love of other family members. These…

read analysis of Family and Lies
Get the entire The Thing Around Your Neck LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Thing Around Your Neck PDF

Colonialism and Violence

As a coastal region, people in what is now Nigeria experienced contact with Europeans early. Nigeria became an official British colony in 1914, and in 1960, Great Britain granted Nigeria its independence as a Commonwealth country. From 1967-1970 the country experienced a civil war, which pitted the conservative Nigerian government against the secessionist state of Biafra. The Biafran Conflict figures into a number of stories in the collection, as does the ongoing religious and ethnic…

read analysis of Colonialism and Violence

The American Dream

In the story “The Thing Around Your Neck,"” Akunna's family members in Nigeria are absolutely thrilled that she won the "visa lottery" and gets to go to America. Upon her departure they celebrate that she'll soon have a big house and a big car. Once in America, however, she finds these dreams to be unrealistic and unattainable. Disillusionment at the realities of life in America touches most of the characters in the book…

read analysis of The American Dream