The Thing Around Your Neck

The Lasting Impact of Colonialism in Western Perceptions of The Global South: Race and Gender in 'The Thing Around Your Neck' College

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck follows Akunna, a young Nigerian immigrant, as she adjusts to life in America. While there she begins a relationship with a white man who is eerily fascinated by African culture, and encounters the multiple skewed perceptions that Americans have of African countries, in particular Nigeria. Akunna and her boyfriend’s strikingly different views of Africa represent the lasting impact of colonialism both in western countries and the Global South, and also reveal the danger of the Single Story perspective. In presenting such radically different characters, Adichie critiques the dominant western perception of Africa and African women and reveals the lasting impacts of settler colonialism on race and gender.

Adichie’s depiction of Akunna and her boyfriend reflect the lasting impacts of settler colonialism on both colonized and colonizer nations. Akunna’s boyfriend is obsessed with Nigerian culture, to the point where it seems as though he’s claiming the Nigerian identity for himself. He “told [Akunna] he had been to Ghana and Uganda and Tanzania, loved the poetry of Okot p’Bitek and the novels of Amos Tutuola” (120). While Akunna initially “wanted to feel disdain… because white...

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