Extract Question – Change in Olanna and Odenigbo – Baby

Extract 1    Extract 2     Extract 3     Extract 4 (Example Response)

Discuss the following passage in detail, paying particular attention to ways in which Adichie presents the characters and the change in their relationship.

“Sorry,” Odenigbo said, when he got in. He did not say anything about what he and his mother had talked about until they were driving past the campus gates in Nsukka, an hour later. “Mama doesn’t want to keep the baby.”

“She doesn’t want to keep the baby?”

“No.”

Olanna knew why. “She wanted a boy.”

“Yes.” Odenigbo removed a hand from the steering wheel to roll his window farther down. She found a guilty pleasure in the humility he had cloaked himself in since Amala gave birth. “We’ve agreed that the baby will stay with Amala’s people. I’ll go to Abba next week to see them and discuss—”

“We’ll keep her,” Olanna said. She startled herself by how clearly she had articulated the desire to keep the baby and how right it felt. It was as if it was what she had always wanted to do.

Odenigbo turned to her with eyes widened behind his glasses. He was driving so slowly over a speed bump that she feared the car would stall. “Our relationship is the most important thing to me, nkem,” he said quietly. “We have to make the right decision for us.”

“You were not thinking about us when you got her pregnant,” Olanna said, before she could help herself; she hated the malice in her tone, the renewed resentment she felt.

Odenigbo parked the car in the garage. He looked tired. “Let’s think about this.”

“We’ll keep her,” Olanna said firmly.

She could raise a child, his child. She would buy books about motherhood and find a wet nurse and decorate the bedroom. She shifted this way and that in bed that night. She had not felt sorry for the child. Instead, holding that tiny, warm body, she had felt a conscious serendipity, a sense that this may not have been planned but had become, the minute it happened, what was meant to be. Her mother did not think so; her mother’s voice over the phone line the next day was grave, the solemn tone that would be used to talk about somebody who had died.

“Nne, you will have your own child soon. It is not right for you to raise the child he had with a village girl he impregnated as soon as you travelled. Raising a child is a very serious thing to undertake, my daughter, but in this case it is not the right thing.”

Olanna held the phone and stared at the flowers on the centre table. One of them had fallen off; it was surprising that Ugwu had forgotten to remove it. There was truth in her mother’s words, she knew, and yet she knew, also, that the baby had looked like she had always imagined her and Odenigbo’s child would, with the lush hair and widely spaced eyes and pink gums.

“Her people will give you trouble,” her mother said. “The woman herself will give you trouble.”

“She doesn’t want the child.”

“Then leave it with her people. Send them what is needed but leave the child there.”

Olanna sighed. “Anugo m, I’ll give this more thought.”

She put the phone down and picked it up again and gave the operator Kainene’s number in Port Harcourt. The woman sounded lazy, made her repeat the number a few times and giggled before connecting her.

Example Response

Author: Mr Sir

Although I've only been teaching Literature since 2011 and did my degree in History, I think that makes me better placed than many Lit teachers to provide notes that make sense and aren't garbled and wrapped up with inaccessible terminology and effluent nonsense. After adventures in Uganda and Uzbekistan, I am now settling down in the Netherlands. However, currently I am just about as unsettled as I have ever been, with a new job, a new baby, a new country and a hundred other things going on! Ask me a question, collaborate or abuse me.

4 thoughts on “Extract Question – Change in Olanna and Odenigbo – Baby”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *