Half of a Yellow Sun Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does sex relate to violence in the text?

    There are hints of sexual shame in the pleasures of the body throughout the text. During one of Olanna and Odenigbo’s sexual encounter, there is distinct hidden themes of sexual violence as a reflection of the slaying of Arize. Sex in this narrative is always in some way connected with an act of violence, whether it be through colonization or undertones of rape. Ugwu desires control in sexual experiences, for example, he wanted to buy tear gas to subdue a victim. The social structure within the narrative seems to identify sexual autonomy in women as overtly incomprehensible. But there is something very difficult about how Richard views the women he has sex with. With both Olanna and Kainene he is utterly infatuated with them, with Olanna he’s more infatuated with the idea of her because afterwards he is overwhelmed by shame. In the conversation just before they have sex Olanna inquires about the violence in Kenya, she questions regarding a victim that Richard wants to write about, “didn’t they cut off testicles” (292). With the brash statement of castration right before they have sex and with Richard’s feelings of shame soon after, Richard appears to be taking the feminine role of shame and loss of sexual autonomy.

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