Physical setting

The events described in the short story “The American Embassy” by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie take place in the late 1990s, a few years after the 1993 Nigerian coup d’état. During the military coup, the Armed Forces led by General Sani Abacha forced interim President Ernest Shonekan to resign from his function. The woman’s husband, who is a journalist, writes an inflammatory article in which he criticizes General Abacha’s coup and his crimes between 1993 and 1997:

Everyone supportive of the pro-democracy press knew about her husband, especially because he was the first journalist to publicly call the coup plot a sham, to write a story accusing General Abacha of inventing a coup so that he could kill and jail his opponents. (p. 83, ll. 36-39)

The husband’s article brings him fame among Nigerians, but later endangers his family’s life, as well as his own. 

After her son’s death, the woman sits in line outside the American embassy in Lagos, waiting to apply for an asylum visa. Throughout the story, the man behind her and the other people waiti...

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