Characters

The main character in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story “The Headstrong Historian” is Nwamgba, a Nigerian widow. Throughout the events, Nwamgba presents herself as determined and strong-willed. The story focuses on her struggles as well as the three relationships that define her: with her husband, her son, and her granddaughter.

Another important character is Nwamgba’s son, Anikwenwa. He plays an important role in the story, as he completely abandons the way of his people in favor of what he is taught at the Catholic school. His granddaughter, Grace, is his complete opposite, as she wants to honor Nwamgba and her people and give them a voice, despite what she is being taught by those around her.

You can read a full characterization of Nwamgba, Annikwenwa, and Grace in the following pages.

Excerpt 

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

Similarly, Grace is capable of self-examination. This is why she begins to think of her own education and how she was influenced by what she was taught:

It was Grace who would begin to rethink her own schooling: How lustily she had sung on Empire Day, “God save our gracious king. Send him victorious, happy and glorious. Long to reign over us.” How she had puzzled over words like “wallpaper” and “dandelions” in her textbooks, unable to picture them. How she had struggled with arithmetic problems that had to do with mixtures, because what was “coffee” and what was “chicory,” and why did they have to be mixed?
Grace, therefore, understands that her education focused on a culture that was not hers and could not be compatible with her identity. 

Nwamgba, Grace’s grandmother, ...

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