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The Thing Around Your Neck: Concept of Microagression in Stories of Adichie

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“Cell One” and “Private Experience” are short stories written by Afro-feminist novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. One interesting point of her style of writing is that she does not believe in writing utopian, ideal fiction novels. She incorporates a number of undesirable events and micro-aggression in a number of perspectives that portray an unfortunate yet real world. Both “Cell One” and “Private Experience” show recurring events of these micro-aggression.

Cell One is presumably narrated through the eyes of Adichie. The story draws the life of an ill-minded teenager Nnamabia who steals his mother’s jewelry and attempts to sell it. Nnamabia sets off in a series of such events and ultimately gets locked up in Cell One, the harshest of them all, after being involved in a cult. Nnamabia’s family is a middle-class income family and one that is capable of winding through the corrupt prison system, to get him out of jail. The narrator begins Cell One with scenes of robbery; first by a neighbor and second by her brother, Nnamabia. After Nnamabia fails to sell his mother’s jewelry, the narrator mentions, “It was as if she felt that the least she could have done was get a good price. I wanted to slap her (4)”. I chose this quote because behind the fact that tension mounts within the household, the narrator seems distressed with the fact that her mother is prioritizing the materialistic value of her jewelry more than the moral inadequacy of Nnamadia’s actions.

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Meanwhile, the university of Nsukka has transitioned into a site of terror as the narrator puts as the “season of cults”. “They may have once been benign fraternities, but they had evolved and were now called “cults”; eighteen-year-old who had mastered the swagger of American rap videos were undergoing secret and strange initiations that sometimes left one or two of them dead on Odim Hill (7)”. I chose this quote because of its striking image of violence in an educational environment. It was described as a casual occurrence, which made me think that they were applying no respect in the value of life. Finally, the policeman who frees Nnamabia says, “You cannot raise your children well, all of you people who feel important because you work in the university. When your children misbehave, you think they should not be punished. You are lucky, madam, very lucky that they released him (20)”. This comment by the policeman was definitely a rude wake up call to the troublesome method of raising Nnamabia, but I chose this quote because I think it identified the way how the narrator, both under her femininity and anonymity, was conforming to the norm of not being able to speak up. Instead, there was a sense that the policeman was speaking for her, telling what she was actually thinking of the whole time. The striking images of the lack of moral integrity within the narrator’s household and the juxtaposition of education and violence shocked me into choosing the aforementioned quotes.

Similarly, in the following story, “Private Experience”, struggles persist. Chika and a woman with no name climb into a small store in amidst of a riot. The story continues in the small store as Chika who just lost her Burberry purse realizes that people with different skin colors and religions still share similarities. “Chika wonders if the woman is looking at her as well, if the woman can tell, from her light complexion and the silver finger rosary her mother insists she wear, that she is Igbo and Christian (44)”. Chika expects the woman to notice her religion by framing herself with skin color and materialistic inferences of wealth. She fails in recognizing diversity and has a stereotypical perception of people.

This was a problem I have dealt with in the past, I chose to use this quote. Fortunately, she experiences a shift in her perception. “She hardly ever lies, but the few times she does, there is always a purpose behind the lie. She wonders what purpose this lie serves, this need to draw on a fictional past similar to the woman’s; she and Nnedi are her mother’s only children (50)”. She draws a fictional past that is similar to the woman’s background, subconsciously attempting to catch similarity between them. She therefore realizes that there is in fact no difference between people from different backgrounds, which is why I chose the quote.

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The Thing Around Your Neck: Concept of Microagression in Stories of Adichie. (2023, February 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from
“The Thing Around Your Neck: Concept of Microagression in Stories of Adichie.” Edubirdie, 01 Feb. 2023,
The Thing Around Your Neck: Concept of Microagression in Stories of Adichie. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Oct. 2023].
The Thing Around Your Neck: Concept of Microagression in Stories of Adichie [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Feb 01 [cited 2023 Oct 3]. Available from:
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