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The story of Half of a Yellow Sun is set within the Biafran university community and education is a central theme of the narrative. Odenigbo is a university professor and the British expatriate Richard is also an intellectual and a researcher who has settled in Nigeria to write a study on Igbo art. However, the theme of education is most significantly embodied by Odenigbo's servant, Ugwu, who struggles throughout the novel to get an education and find his own voice. In this search, he is particularly inspired by Frederick Douglass's autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, which details his fight against slavery. Ugwu is impressed by how a former slave has managed to become the author of a book. In the same way, he becomes a writer and emancipates himself through education. It is significant that the book on the Biafran war with which the narrative of Half of a Yellow Sun is interspersed (The World Was Silent When We Died) is not written by the white intellectua Richard, but by the African houseboy Ugwu who has become his own master.
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