A Private Experience

This study guide will help you analyse the text “A Private Experience” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message, and help you put the text in perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “A Private Experience”
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published in: VQR/The Guardian
Date of Publication: 2004
Genre: Short story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. 1977) is a Nigerian writer. She lives both in the US and Nigeria and is an activist for feminism and African literature. Her works usually focus on African women and their lives. A first version of “A Private Experience” appeared in 2004 in VQR magazine, and a second version was published in The Guardian, at the end of 2008.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 


The title of the short story, “A Private Experience”, suggests the idea of intimacy. The title refers to the way the main character, Chika (who is Igbo) perceives the tears and prayers of a Hausa woman she spends the night with, hiding from street riots between the Igbo (who are Christians) and the Hausa (who are Muslim): “The woman’s crying is private, as though she is carrying out a necessary ritual that involves no one else.”; “She knows the woman is on her knees, facing Mecca, but she does not look. It is like the woman's tears, a private experience...” 

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A Private Experience

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