Like most short stories, “A Private Experience” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is structured around a single event—two women spend a night in a shop hiding from a violent riot on the streets of Kano, Nigeria. The plot revolves around religious and ethnic conflicts and, as a result, it has an important social component.

The short story has a fragmented structure—present events overlap with future ones, a plot technique called flash-forward (or prolepsis).


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...”

This suggests that while sorrow and religious beliefs should be something private, the situation the women are in makes it impossible for them not to witness these actions and to subsequently form a bond. Furthermore, the title subtly suggests that religion should be something private and not a reason for public violence and ethn...

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