Stylistic Analysis Of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half Of The Yellow Sun

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Stylistic Analysis Of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half Of The Yellow Sun


This study is a stylistic analysis of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‟s novel Half Of A Yellow Sun, which comprises four parts with a total number of 37 chapters and 433 pages. The aim of this study is to identify the predominant stylistic devices used by the author in the novel and the effects achieved by using them. To achieve this aim, the researcher uses quantitative stylistic analysis which entails the counting and writing down the number of times each device occurs in the selected chapters of the novel. Review of related literature is also done. The researcher chooses this study because Half Of A Yellow Sun is Chimamanda‟s second and most voluminous novel; it is also an award winning novel and not much has been done on the stylistic analysis of the novel. 24 chapters are selected out of the 37 chapters and tables are used to represent the frequency of occurrence of the predominant stylistic devices used in the novel. Random selection sampling was used in parts two and four respectively to select six chapters from each while part one and part three are selected because they have six chapters each and need no random sampling. At the end, the predominant devices found out to be used by Chimamanda are Compound sentences followed by Compound complex sentences, Parenthetical expression, Italics, Transliteration and Code-mixing. It is then recommended that other young writers should adopt Chimamanda‟s style since the aim of studying style is to improve the vigour of one‟s writing.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of Study

Language is a tool or a code system used for human communication. It is made up of sounds or graphic symbols, which users or speakers have accepted to use as units of communication.

Language is a symbol system based on pure or arbitrary conventions infinitely extendable and modifiable according to the changing needs and conditions of the speakers.

Robins (1985).

According to Lyons (1970) Languages are:

The principal systems of communication used by particular groups of human beings within the particular society (Linguistic community) of which they are members.

The use of language is not restricted to only human beings but for the purpose of this study, the researcher is concentrating on language used by human beings. Language as a human property is used to perform various functions in a society such as communication, instruction and socialization, which is why its study is indispensable. Linguists over the years have studied languages and have actually expanded the wings of language to various levels of Linguistic analysis or description such as phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and Discourse.

The graphic representation of sounds (speech sounds) on paper is called writing. Writing is done in different ways for various purposes and by different people. It is because of this that the study of stylistics becomes necessary and an important area to both linguists and critics.

According to Syal and Jindal (2010)

“Stylistics is that branch of linguistics which takes the language of literary texts as its object of study”.

Stylistics is the study of various styles used in literary and non – literary texts which distinguishes the uniqueness of a writer from another.

Style is a pattern of linguistic features that distinguish a piece of writing from another; it also distinguishes the personality of an author from another. No wonder the French scholar Buffon said “Style is the Man”.

Syal and Jindal (2010) opined that:

Out of the many types of variations that occur in language, it is the variation in literary style that is most complex, and thus offers unlimited scope for linguistic analysis. (61).

Stylistics is very important in Literature because each literary text represents an individual‟s use of language which reflects his unique personality, thoughts and style.

The study of literary styles shows the linguistics repertoire of a writer. We often hear of the style of Armah; the style of Milton and the simplicity that is associated with Wordsworth.

Stylistics looks at the choice of words, the sentence patterns and figurative usage of words by a writer. Figurative expressions which are sometimes called “Rhetorical Expression” helps a writer to be vivid in his description of events and ideas.

According to Ezugu:

Figures of speech, sometimes called “rhetorical” figures are expressions, phrases or words used to convey more than their ordinary literal meaning. These figures, if properly used, not only enrich but strengthen and give life to our writing.

Ezugu (2011)

Some of the features used in a achieving style include:

  1. Diction, figurative usage and various sentence structures such as:
  2. Parenthetical Expressions; These are words, clauses or even another sentence inserted at the middle or end of a sentence such as after thoughts.
  3. Compound Sentence; A compound sentence is one which consists of three or more simple sentences joined together by a co-ordinating conjunction or semi – colon.
  4. Complex Sentence; A complex sentence consists of two parts. The main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.
  5. Compound complex sentence; This consists of two or more main clauses and one or more subordinate clause.

Other features of style include:

  1. Graphology; The analysis of hand writing to interpret character and personality. Aspects of which are ”Italics, Bold sentence” and capitalization”.
  2. Code Switching; A system of switching from one linguistic code to another.
  3. Code – Mixing; A systematic way of mixing two or more linguistics codes in an utterance or writing.
  4. Transliteration; This is the literal translation of the syntatical structure of a language into another language

1.2 Statement of Problem

Although many works have been done on stylistics, little work has been done on style used in Chimamanda Adichie‟s

Half of a yellow sun which was published in 2006. Most of the works done were based on general analysis of how her works reflect the realities of the society. To the knowledge of this researcher, no work has been done on the stylistic analysis of the devices used in her work, hence, the decision of the researcher to investigate the style of the author in this her second widely acclaimed novel Half of A yellow Sun.

1.3 Objective of the Study

This study aims at an identification of the predominant stylistic devices used in Chimamanda Adichie‟s Half Of A Yellow Sun and the effect these devices have in the over all evaluation of the novel.

1.4 Significance of Study

This study will enable readers identify the predominant stylistic devices used by Chimamanda Adichie in her novel Half Of A Yellow Sun as well as the effect achieved by the use of these devices.

The study will, in addition, encourage writers to adopt the style of Chimamanda Adichie in their writing.

Finally, it will provide material for researchers in this field.

1.5 Scope of Study

This investigation is limited to an analysis of the predominant stylistic devices employed in Chimamanda Adichie‟s novel Half Of A Yellow Sun . The novel comprises four parts namely: PART ONE: The Early Sixties; PART TWO: The Late Sixties; Part Three: The Early Sixties‟ PART FOUR: The late sixties. These four parts are made up of a total number of the thirty seven (37) chapters but the researcher has selected twenty four chapters for analysis.

The analysis is restricted to such stylistic devices as compound sentences; compound complex sentences, italics, code – mixing, parenthetical expression and transliteration which the researcher encountered several times in the course of reading the novel.

1.6 Research Methodology

The method used in this investigation was intensive study of related materials from the library and close textual analysis of the novel Half Of A Yellow Sun using quantitative anaysis. Quantitative analysis entails identifying counting and writing down the frequency of occurrence of each of the identified stylistic devices covered in the scope of study.

Furthermore out of the thirty seven chapters that make up the novel, twenty four chapters are selected by random sampling. All the chapters in parts one and part three respectively of the novel are selected since they contain six chapters each but in part two and part four, six chapters are selected from each part by simple random sampling since they contain more than six chapters each.

Part two contains twelve chapters while part four contains thirteen chapters.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

As mentioned earlier in this research work, stylistics is the study of linguistic features of a language and style is a pattern of writing that distinguishes one category of writing from another. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‟s novel is distinguished because of the following devices: compound sentence, compound complex sentence, italics, parenthetical expression, transliteration and code – mixing which she employs in her novel Half of A yellow sun.

By carefully manipulating these devices, she reveals the disastrous effects of the Nigerian civil war and the feelings of a group who have been maligned and disadvantaged in the Nigerian society.
According to Joyce Carol Oates, “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‟s Half of A yellow sun is a remarkable novel in its compassionate intelligence, as in its capacity for intimate portraiture. This novel is a worthy successor to such twentieth century classics as Chinua Achebe‟s Things Fall Apart.


Chimamanda‟s division of the novel into four parts could be to capture and explore vividly the different phases and events that led to the Nigerian civil war. The parts of the novel cover the early sixties and the late sixties which is from the period of independence to the coup d‟etat, the counter coup d‟etat and the subsequent secession which necessitated the civil war.

5.2 Conclusion

It is important to conclude that these stylistic devices; compound sentence, compound complex sentence, parenthetical expression, italics, transliteration and code – mixing used by Adichie served the purposes for which they were employed. They helped in portraying the author‟s feeling and the disastrous effect of the civil war in the post – colonial Nigeria society.

5.3 Recommendation

The researcher, therefore, recommends that more writers, especially young and developing writers should adopt this style of compiling lxixe their novels into four parts by breaking up a story into parts and concluding it at a later part. This heightens the effect of the narrative by creating suspense.

The variety of sentences used by Chimamanda Adichie is equally recommended because of the suspense it creates.

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