The Thing Around Your Neck

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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What assumptions does Chika make about the Muslim woman in "A Private Experience"?

Quick answer:

The kinds of assumptions that Chika makes about the Muslim woman in "A Private Experience” pertain to the woman’s socioeconomic status, her opinion on the riot, and her relationship with her body.

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An assumption that Chika makes about the Muslim woman in “A Private Experience” connects to socioeconomic status. Based on the Muslim woman’s scarf, Chika assumes that she doesn’t have a lot of money. She describes the woman’s scarf as “flimsy.” She notes that it has the “garish prettiness of cheap things.”

Chika’s assumptions about the Muslim woman’s class status are reinforced by her green wrapper. The woman puts the wrapper on the dirty floor for both of them to sit on. Chika presumes that the woman doesn't own many wrappers, so she resists sitting on the wrapper, as she doesn’t want to get it dirty.

A second assumption that Chika makes about the woman relates to her thoughts about the riot. The Muslim woman tells Chika, “It is the work of evil.” Chika isn’t sure that this is an accurate reflection of the woman’s beliefs. Perhaps the Muslim woman is moderating her opinion so as not to create conflict with Chika, who’s an Igbo Christian.

A third assumption that Chika makes about the Muslim woman links to her body. When the woman mentions the burning in her nipples, Chika has to “swallow the bubble of surprise in her throat.” The woman then unhooks her bra and bares her breasts. The scene seems to disprove Chika’s assumption that the Muslim woman might be uncomfortable discussing or revealing certain body parts.

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