Fiction Across Cultures
Dr. Shauna Kirlew
12 March 2015
Explore the portraiture of womanhood and women's bodies in the literature
A woman's body is the most sacred entity in the world, and possesses much power. The body of a woman endures so much but remains a beautiful work of art. As seen in Chimamanda Adichie's works Nigerian women have endured every hardship possible and are the most vulnerable group. In many parts of society the female body has been used and abused by men to obtain things such as money, land, and even contracts. In the novel and also in the movie, Half of a Yellow Sun, Adichie documents the mutliple struggles of women trying to free themselves from sexual abuse, exploitation, and humiliation. Sexual abuse to the woman's body is the traumatic and shameful experience of women's experiences in the novel. Although the female body endures strong suffering in the novel the main three characters exhibit great perseverance In overcoming their difficulties. So, Adichie projects womanhood in a positive light. We constantly see women's determination to survive despite violence, extreme starvation, senseless brutality and ongoing threats to their lives and property.
From the beginning of the novel, the exploitation of the female body stifles Olanna and Kainene. The father of these women, is a rich politician and businesman, and views Olanna as an asset to his business. His attempt to convince Olanna go basically prostitue herself so that he may recieve contracts from other businessmen shows the reader that even as her father what her body csn do for his fortune is mofe important than her as a human being. He also puts her on public display for the men to see and have her in exchange for money and tenders. These women were merely seen as sexualised offerings to rich men. Richard's first impression of Kainene was not due to her educatikn and personality, but it was her physicality. These women were seen as exotic objects that fascinated rich British men.
During the Nigerian-Biafran war women were undured deep torture from soldiers and recruits seen in the novel. The scene where the soldiers are hanging out in the bar and a young bar girl is gang raped by soldiers and Ugwu partakes in this degradation of the female body. These soldiers overpower her and force her to have sex with them. "The bar girl lying on her back on the floor, her wrapper bunched up at her waist, her shoulder held down by a soldier, her legs wide, wide ajar. She was sobbing, 'please, please, biko...' between her leg, High-Tech was moving." Soldiers seem to have a personal victory when raping women during war situations. Rape is always that horrendous psttern of violence against women. According to Adichie, the women during the Biafran war were also referred to as 'food.' Not only were they raped by the Biafrans themselves, bht also the white mercenaries.
Women were sexually exploited by the men who were in power, then dumped, and left on their own despite the risk of preganancy and the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, during a time they needed the most care and protection. The commander of the Biafran army, who is a white mercenary, raped young defenseless girls at his own pleasure. Embarrasing and humiliating these young women, by exposing their vulnerable bodies to all the soldiers around. Father Marcel also participates in the horrendous act sexual exploitation and his is among young underage girls in exchange for food. I believe Adichie is shining light on the treatment of women, how they negatively bear on them, and jabs society to review the way it treats women.
Adichie, turns it around for the reader because she portrays womanhood in a positive light. In Half of a Yellow Sun, these women have held on to the values they deem important and have made agonising situations , especially during the Biafran war bearable. She also publicizes these highly educated, freethinking, resilient and