The Thing Around Your Neck Questions and Answers
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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In the story The Thing Around Your Neck, is the narrator making choices about her life or is she driven by circumstances?

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In The Thing Around Your Neck, the narrator speaks to the social, political, and economic realities of being a black immigrant woman in America. In her struggle to adjust to the racist, sexist, classist American system and the interpersonal oppression she faced upon her arrival, the narrator is forced to make choices about how to navigate her new life. These choices are directly related to the circumstances she faces as a Nigerian immigrant woman living among mostly white faces.

Being driven by circumstances and making your own choices are not mutually exclusive realities, and the narrator navigates her life holding both of these realities. She can not escape the oppressions she faces, yet she works to maintain her autonomy as much as she can.

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