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The Headstrong Historian

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Headstrong Historian” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Headstrong Historian” (2008) 
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
Genre: Short story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. 1977) is a Nigerian writer currently living in the United States. Adichie’s works often focus on Nigerian customs and the relationship between modernity and tradition. Adichie wrote three novels, of which Americanah (2013), is considered the most notable. She also wrote several short stories, many of which she published in collections such as The Thing Around Your Neck (2009). The short story “The Headstrong Historian” first appeared in the magazine The New Yorker in 2008.

Excerpt

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Social setting

The social setting deals with the conflicts between Nigerians and Europeans, especially from a religious point of view. Nwamgba sends Anikwenwa to a Catholic mission school, whose main purpose is to convert Nigerians and other African people to Christianity. This serves as a point of division not only between white people and the native populations, but also between the natives who choose to be Christian and those who do not. 

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The Headstrong Historian

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