The most important characters in the short story “A Private Experience” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are the two women, Chika and the Hausa woman. They are also the only active characters in the present action. The rest of the characters (Chika’s sister, her aunt, and the Hausa woman’s children) are only mentioned and are not actively involved in the plot.
Chika is the protagonist of the short story as indicated by the fact that the narration only follows her perspective and the events she experiences (past, present, and future).
Her outer characterization tells us that she is an Igbo woman who studies medicine in Lagos, who comes from a rich family, and who has a sister named Nnedi (who disappears during the riots). Her physical portrait tells us that she has a “light complexion” and that she wears fashionable, Western-style clothes: “She looks down at her own denim skirt and red T-shirt embossed with a picture of the Statue of Liberty…”
Her inner characterization is conveyed through her actions and perspective. Firstly, Chika comes across as scared, confused, and shocked by the riots. Unaccustomed to being exposed to violence, she does not know how to make sense of what is happening to her: “...she knows nothing about riots: the closest she has come is the prodemocracy rally at the university a few weeks ago...”; “Riots like this were what she read about in newspapers. Riots like this were what happened to other people.” This suggests that she did not believe that she would ever be caught in such a conflict.
Secondly, as an educated woman, she knows the politics...