Themes

Trauma and grief

The short story “The American Embassy” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores the theme of trauma and grief. The woman’s experience of having her life torn apart in the course of a few days is traumatic and tragic, and she has difficulty keeping her mind clear and focused:

Two days ago she had buried her child in a grave near a vegetable patch in their ancestral hometown of Umunnachi, surrounded by well-wishers she did not remember now. The day before, she had driven her husband in the boot of their Toyota to the home of a friend, who smuggled him out of the country. And the day before that, she hadn’t needed to take a passport photo; her life was normal… (p. 81, ll. 27-31)

The woman’s personal tragedy is the result of a series of events that left her traumatized. During a short period, her husband fled the country, she saw her four-year-old son get killed in front of her, and she was afraid that her life was also in danger. The shock of the events affects the woman both physically and mentally, as she hints that she depends on tranquilizers to forget about seeing her son get killed (p. 80, l. 14-15). 

Moreover, the woman is advised to use her trauma as a way of obtaini...

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