Style of writing

The language of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story “The Headstrong Historian” is formal and descriptive. The author uses long, complex sentences to evoke the thoughts of her characters: “She thought this strange of him, a prosperous man with only one wife, and she worried more than he did about their childlessness, about the songs that people sang, the melodious mean-spirited words.”

The vocabulary is also complex, as the author uses formal and sometimes old-fashioned words such as: “loathed”, “malevolence”, or “weaklings”. The vocabulary also contains Igbo words, such as: “obi”, and “chi”. These provide authenticity to the text.

Metaphors and similes

Nwamgba remembers that, in the mornings after her husband came to her hut, she was feeling “as if were surrounded by light.” The simile points to Nwamgba’s affection towards Obierika and highlights the strength of their relationship.

When Anikwenwa’s attitude towards the school begins to change, Nwamgba notices that he looks “as if he had suddenly found himself bearing the weight of a heavy world”. This simile marks the start of the character’s change from Anikwenwa to Michael, and how he is now aware of the incompatibility between what ...

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