Table of contents


Chika is the protagonist of the short story as indicated by the fact that the narration only follows her perspective and the events she experiences (past, present, and future).

Her outer characterization tells us that she is an Igbo woman who studies medicine in Lagos, who comes from a rich family, and who has a sister named Nnedi (who disappears during the riots). Her physical portrait tells us that she has a “light complexion”  and that she wears fashionable, Western-style clothes: “She looks down at her own denim skirt and red T-shirt embossed with a picture of the Statue of Liberty…” 

Inner characterization

Her inner characterization is conveyed through her actions and perspective. Firstly, Chika comes across as scared, confused, and shocked by the riots. Unaccustomed to being exposed to violence, she does not know how to make sense of what is happening to her: “...she knows nothing about riots: the closest she has come is the prodemocracy rally at the university a few weeks ago...”; “Riots like this were what she read about in newspapers. Riots like this were what happened to other people.”  This suggests that she did not believe that she would ever be caught in such a conflict.

Secondly, as an educated woman, she knows the politics behind violence and conflict, and is able to understand the larger picture, particularly since her sister studies political science: “…riots do not happen in a vacuum, that religion and ethnicity are often politicized because the ruler is safe if the hungry ruled are killing one another.” 

From her flashback memories about her past, we find out that Chika is used to comfort and wealth, which also makes her very aware of the social differences between her and the woman she is with: “She does not add that the handbag was a Burberry, an original one that her mother had bought on a recent trip to London.” 

Furthermore, we find out that she is uncertain about her career choice, that she does not feel comfortable as a medical student:

She does not add that she often feels attacks of uncertainty, that she slouches at the back of the group of six or seven students, avoi…


The Hausa woman

The unnamed Hausa woman is a supporting character in the short story. She is relevant for the way she and Chika interact despite their differences.

Her outer characterization informs us that she is Muslim and belongs to the ethnic group of the Hausa. She is uneducated and works as a trader (market vendor) and she has five children. Her physical portrait is conveyed on several occasions: “Even without the woman's strong Hausa accent, Chika can tell she is a Northerner, from the narrowness of her face, the unfamiliar rise of her cheekbones; and that she is Muslim, because of the scarf.”; “She unties her green wrapper and spreads it on the dusty floor. She has on only a blouse and a shimmery black slip torn at the seams.”

Inner characterization

The woman’s inner characterization suggests that she is protective and kind, as she is the one who takes initiative and offers to help Chika by inviting her to hide together in the store.

Her language suggests that she is not high…

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