What is the role of Richard and how important is he to the development of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun?

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lprono | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Richard's point of view is one of the three used to tell the story of the novel. Although the story is narrated in the third person, the narrator alternatively identify the point of view with that of three characters: the college lecturer Olanna, the houseboy Ugwu and the white British expatriate Richard. Richard is a British writer who has come to Nigeria to write about Igbo art and finds himself involved in the Nigerian-Biafran conflict. In the course of the novel, he increasingly distances himself from the white expratriates' community and aligns himself with the Biafran cause, ending up writing for the Department of Propaganda during the war. He also falls in love with Olanna's sister, Kainene, who reciprocates his feelings. However, at least at the beginning of the novel, Richard is blocked both as a writer and as a lover. In addition to Richard's sexual inadequacy, his relationship with Kainene is severely tested when he has sex with her sister Olanna. Throughout the novel, readers get the impression that Richard is well-meaning, but pompous and constantly out of place. However, as he starts to work for the Biafran government, there seems to be some development in his character and he becomes at least more aware of his inadequacies. Towards the end of the novel he thinks that "his life would always be like a candlelit room; he would see things in shadows, only in half glimpses" (page 430). Also, in spite of his efforts to write, the book excerpts that are intervowen through the narrative (The World Was Silent While We Died) are finally revealed to be Ugwu's and not Richard's.

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