19 Critical Introduction

Studying Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Thing Around Your Neck” is a short story worth studying. With complex themes, heart-wrenching characters, and unflinching narration, “The Thing Around Your Neck” touched us all in unique ways, and inspired each of the following thoughtful analyses you’ll read in this critical edition.


Logan White’s Essay “A Collar of Re-Vision and Self-Actualization” is a critical analysis of a short narrative called “The Thing Around Your Neck”. The lens of Logan’s essay is approached from a psychological standpoint giving a unique exploration of identity and self-actualization in the creative process. This essay looks at the psychological factors influencing an individual’s writing, self-discovery and the portrayal of authentic identity. This exploration uses much of the footwork of a foundational understanding of the possible influences of re-vision on Adichie’s work and psychological values. You can expect a thoughtful analysis of the intersection of psychology and literature, shedding light on the writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie by navigating the reflections of personal journeys and how we find psychological values in this compelling narrative.

New Criticism

In “The Cost of Freedom: A Critical Look at The Thing Around Your Neck”, Wyatt Haedt delves into the nuanced themes and motifs present in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story via the lens of new criticism. He highlights how the title, “The Thing Around Your Neck,” symbolizes the various burdens faced by those of African descent who live in America. These include issues of identity, alienation, and disillusionment, that immigrants, particularly women like the protagonist Akunna, face when coming to the United States in pursuit of the American dream. The essay explores the notion of American idealization, only to be shattered by the harsh realities of immigrant life. It also examines the second-person narrative style as a tool to immerse readers in Akunna’s experiences while simultaneously emphasizing her detachment and alienation. Ultimately, the analysis shows how Adichie’s storytelling portrays the complex cost of freedom for immigrants in America.

Cultural Studies

In her essay “Between Worlds: Assimilation and the Voices of Alienation,” Sophia Zahorka analyzes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story “The Thing Around Your Neck” through a cultural studies criticism lens. Zahorka delves deep into the intricate intersections of personal identity and cultural context within Adichie’s short story. Zahorka focuses on the nuanced struggles of assimilation and alienation experienced by immigrants in America. Her essay highlights Adichie’s transformative ability to portray the prevalence of stereotypes, micro-aggressions, and the cultural disconnect that contribute to the alienation experienced by nonwhite immigrants navigating through predominately white communities. Recognizing the transformative power of Adichie’s literature, Zahorka positions “The Thing Around Your Neck” as more than a fictional narrative but rather a significant testament to the resilience of immigrants.


Alize’s essay “Finding Our Voices Under Patriarchal Suppression: A Feminist Reading of ‘The Thing Around Your Neck'” takes a feminist critical approach to analyzing Adichie’s short story. Alize delves into the radical gender themes of this story, from the main character’s sexual assault to her domestic life with her partner. Alize reads Adichie’s story as representative of the larger fight against voicelessness that all women fight every day. The essay focuses particularly on the inherent power imbalance of the relationship between the characters, and addresses how women must overcome patriarchal suppression in order to find their voices and use them to tell their own stories.

Although we took vastly different approaches in our readings of “The Thing Around Your Neck,” there are common threads that every essay manages to find in its own way. The intersectionality that exists across feminism, cultural studies, psychological and new criticism readings becomes obvious when these essays are looked at as a whole, and reading each one lends to a greater understanding of Adichie’s masterful short story.


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Beginnings and Endings: A Critical Edition Copyright © 2021 by Liza Long is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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