The Thing Around Your Neck

This study guide will help you analyze the text “The Thing Around Your Neck” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme, and message, and we will help you put the text into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Thing Around Your Neck”
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published in: “Prospect” 99 (magazine)
Date of Publication: 2009
Genre: Short Story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. 1977) is a Nigerian writer who writes in English. She was born as part of the Igbo people and she studied medicine at the University of Nigeria, but moved to the United States, where she eventually studied at Eastern Connecticut State University, Johns Hopkins University, and Yale. She currently spends her time writing and giving lectures regarding feminism or cultural differences. The short story “The Thing Around Your Neck” is part of a short-story collection with the same name, in which she explores the many facets of the Nigerian identity.


Below, you can read a small extract from our study guide:


The title of the short story might be misleading at first, as readers might expect the title to refer to a piece of jewelry, an accessory, or a mark around someone’s neck. The story reveals that the title is, in fact, metaphorical and that it expresses the suffocating feeling that captures Akunna ever since her arrival in America has shattered her American dream: “At night, something would wrap itself around your neck, something that very nearly choked you before you fell asleep.”

Later on in the story, Akunna reveals that her suffocating feeling begins to disappear after becoming more comfortable with her boyfriend: “The thing that wrapped itself around your neck, that early chocked you before you fell asleep, started to loosen, to let go.”

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The Thing Around Your Neck

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