Characterization of the woman

Outer characterization

The unnamed woman is the main character in the short story “The American Embassy” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She is Nigerian and is married to a journalist who is publicly against General Abacha’s rule preceded by a coup d’état. The woman has a four-year-old son named Ugonna, who was killed by government agents looking for Ugonna’s father. 

The woman also worked as a journalist and attended the university in Zaria, “where she had organized a rally to protest General Buhari’s government’s decision to cut student subsidies” (p. 84, ll. 38-39). Before getting pregnant, she used to write for the Evening News in Lagos (p. 84, l. 40). 

Inner characterization

The woman is traumatized by seeing her son getting killed by the government agents who were looking for her husband. The shock of the moment makes her second-guess the event and imagine that the scene she witnessed was not real: 

It was then that Ugonna started to cry, to run to her. The man in the hooded shirt was laughing, saying how soft her body was, waving his gun. Ugonna was screaming now; he never screamed when he cried, he was not that kind of child. Then the gun went off and the palm oil splash appeared on Ugonna’s chest. (p. 82, ll. 23-26)

She imagines that the blood on Ugonna’s chest is palm oil, an issue that she obsesses over throughout the story: 

… she believed for a moment tha...

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