Structure

The short story “The Headstrong Historian” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie follows mostly a chronological plot structure. The events are centered around the main character, Nwamgba and follow her throughout her life.

The story could be broken into three parts. The first part presents the relationship between Nwamgba and Obierika, following it from how they met to Obierika’s death. The second part describes Nwamgba’s struggles with Obierika’s cousins, and her decision to send Anikwenwa to a school run by white people. The third part shows how Anikwenwa distances himself from his own people and from his mother, and how Nwamgba gets a second chance with her granddaughter, Grace, who will later honor her grandmother’s legacy.

The beginning of the story highlights Nwambga’s strong connection to her husband, Obierika, and how she remembers him fondly even after his death: 

Many years after her husband had died, Nwamgba still closed her eyes from time to time to relive his nightly visits to her hut, and the mornings after, when she would walk to the stream humming a song, thinking of the smoky scent of him and the firmness of his weight, and feeling as if she were surrounded by light.

The reader’s attention is drawn towards Nwamgba’s tight re...

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