Structure

The short story “The American Embassy” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a non-chronological structure and jumps back in time, following the main character as she queues in front of the American embassy for a visa interview. 

The story begins in media res and introduces the readers to the main character: 

She stood in line outside the American embassy in Lagos, staring straight ahead, barely moving, a blue plastic file of documents tucked under her arm. She was the forty-eighth person in the line of about two hundred that trailed from the closed gates of the American embassy all the way past the smaller, vine-encrusted gates of the Czech embassy. (p. 80, ll. 1-5)

The beginning of the story also foreshadows the woman’s distress, as she seems detached and uninterested in the things around her: 

She did not notice the newspaper vendors who blew whistles and pushed The Guardian, The news, and The Vanguard in her face. Or the beggars who walked up and down holding out enamel plates. Or the ice-cream bicycles that honked. She did not fan herself with a magazine or swipe at the tiny fly hovering near her ear. (p. 85, ll. 5-8)

Several other elements foreshadow the fact that the woman has been through a traumatic event. F...

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