Homosexuality in The Thing Around Your Neck

In The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, discretely touches on the generally stereotypical views of homosexuality in Africa.
In “On Monday of Last Week,” Kamara is hired as a nanny for a boy named Josh. While she has multiple interactions with the father, she becomes intrigued by the whereabouts of the mother. When meeting Tracy, we see that Kamara not only gets nervous but tries to look her best around her. From sucking in her stomach to wanting to change her hair and the way she is dressed, Adichie makes sure to show Kamara’s interest in Tracy’s ways.
Tracy reciprocates Kamara’s curiosity and from what I understand flirts with Kamara reiterating how beautiful her name is. In return we see that Tracy’s actions have aroused Kamara to the point where she imagines Tracy whispering her name. Although it is not directly shown, Adichie through imagery, using words such as “gleaming” to describe eyes illustrates a connection between the two women. By having Tracy ask Kamara “would you take your clothes off for me” “in a tone as soft as breathe” Adichie touches on the attraction between the two. While Kamara believes she has made an exciting connection with the mother, Tracy, Tracy is quick to put the same moves and approach on Maren the french teacher in front of Kamara.
Although Tracy and Kamara are both married to men, we see that their curiosity wanders leaving themselves to second think twice about their sexuality.
While Adichie hints at the two women being attracted to one another, she also writes about the negative connotations held about homosexuality in Africa.
In Jumping Monkey Hill when the Senegalese woman is talks to her peers about her situation with her girlfriend and telling her parents that she is a lesbian, the black South African gets up and walks away. He “looked alarmed when he heard lesbian.” Adichie is able to depict the sensitivity of the topic of homosexuality. Some people like the South African man, who showed to be conservative did not want to hear about it let alone be associated with homosexuality.
While Adichie does touch on homosexuality, she sticks to lesbian relationships. Why do you think that is? Do you think that there is a sense of female sexualization related to the glorification of lesbian relationships in comparison to gay relationships?

Posted on November 20, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I was a little bit surprised when I was reading “On Monday of Last Week”. The depiction of a lesbian relationship between two married women is just like a female version of the well-known gay theme novel/movie–Brokeback Moutain. I was guessing that maybe Tracy and Neil’s marriage is somehow in a tension because of Tracy’s sexual orientation. The ending of the story gives me such a clear picture of how embarrassing it is! I think that Adichie focuses on lesbian relationships because she does not dig further in gay relationship. I don’t know if this is the case, but I do think that lesbian relationships and gay relationships are very different.

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