Twinhood, Allegory and the Ambivalence of the Postcolonial Nation: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

  • Douglas Kaze Department of English, University of Jos, Jos, Nigeria
Keywords: twinhood, allegory, nation, ambivalence, postcolonial nation


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ has been widely read as a historical novel interested in retelling a national story. In the novel, Adichie returns to the story of the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-1970. She interrogates Nigeria’s state of postcolonial nationhood through the experiences of twin sisters Olanna and Kainene and their family and friends, whose lives have been drastically transformed by the war. This article discusses the interweaving of these personal lives and the national narrative in the novel, arguing that the author’s use of twins and other forms of pairing allegorizes the complex temporalities of the modern postcolonial nation. To conduct this discussion, the article draws theoretically on Frederic Jameson’s conception of national allegory, a view that places “Third World” narrative fiction as inherently representative of the national, and Homi Bhabha’s idea of the ambivalence of the nation, which proposes a narrative doubleness that combines historicist and everyday temporalities of the nation as a means to understanding modern nationhood. Engaging ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ from this perspective, the article positions the text as a novel that, despite narrating a conflict between two opposing national forces, constructs the postcolonial African nation as a complexity that defies binaristic reading.

Author Biography

Douglas Kaze, Department of English, University of Jos, Jos, Nigeria

Department of English

University of Jos,

Jos, Nigeria