An analysis of the short story “The Headstrong Historian” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shows that it follows a mostly chronological plot structure. However, at times, flashbacks and foreshadowing moments interrupt the flow of the narrative.

The main character is Nwambga, a Nigerian woman who becomes a widow after her husband, Obierka, is poisoned by his cousins. Other important characters are Anikwenwa, Nwambga’s son, and Grace, her granddaughter, as the two shows contrasting attitudes towards their contact with Western culture.

The physical setting of the story is a village in Nigeria. The story spans many years, as it starts in the late 1800s and moves even to the 1970s, when mentioning Grace’s life. The social setting looks at the clashes between white people and the local population, especially when it comes to customs and religion.

The story is told from the point of view of a third-person narrator. Although the narrator follows mostly Nwambga’s perspective, there are also instances when the reader knows more than the characters.

The language is formal and descriptive. Many of the words evoke the customs of Nwambga’s people. Symbols, such as the Igbo name Nwambga gives to Grace, highlight the story’s main themes. 

You can read a more detailed analysis in the following pages. 


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Grace’s string of achievements in her attempt to give the Nigerian people a voice as well as her desire to claim a place among them can be considered a direct result of Nwamgba’s struggles and of the lessons that she passes on to her granddaughter ...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in