The Thing Around Your Neck

We will work with the short story "The Thing Around Your Neck". In this learning path, you will learn more about why we should read literature from different English-speaking countries, some new facts about Nigeria, and analyze the short story. At the end, you will be asked to write your own short story.

Competence aims:

Why read literature from different English-speaking countries?

What can we learn from reading literature? What kind of literature do you usually read?

TED-talk: "The Danger of a Single Story"

Whether we are conscious of it or not, stories influence our understanding of other people and places. In “the Danger of a Single Story”, one of the most viewed Ted Talks of all time, the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about the connection between literature and identity. 

In her TED talk, what does Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie mean when she refers to a 'single story'? What is the main point that Adichie makes when she describes her experience of reading Western children's books?

Adichie is from Nigeria. What do you know about Nigeria from before?

Quick research: Nigeria

You might not have heard much about Nigeria before. In order to learn more about Nigeria, research online to find out:

- What status does the English language have there?

- Which ethnic groups are the population divided into? What effect do you think this has?

- How many Nigerians have emigrated to the USA? Why do you think they choose to go to America?

Useful websites: 

Important terms when reading short stories

Repetition on literary terms

Important terms when reading literature

Setting - when and where the story takes place. Why has the author chosen this setting?

Plot - the action: what happens in the story? (should be summarized briefly)

Narration - point of view - who tells the story? 

Characters - the main character is the protagonist. We learn about the characters and are able to characterize through their appearance, speech, thoughts and action in the short story. It is important to consider whether a character changes throughout the story (a dynamic character) or not (a static character).

Conflict - what is the main conflict in the story? Character vs. character? Character vs. society?

Themes - what are the main ideas of the short story?

Read more on: 

and watch the video below

"The Thing Around Your Neck"

The short story is written by a Nigerian author and the protagonist is a Nigerian girl. Consider what you read about Nigeria and the title of the story. What do you expect this short story to be about?

The short story "The Thing Around Your Neck"


What is the plot of the short story? Write a brief summary (10-15 sentences)

How would you describe the main character in the short story? (Focus on both appearance, thoughts, actions and speech) How does she change throughout the story?

What American stereotypes did you recognize in this short story? What Nigerian stereotypes did you recognize? What function do stereotypes have in the short story?

In your opinion, what are the main themes of the short story? Explain how the themes are portrayed throughout the short story.

After reading: creative writing task

Essay task

Essay task:

Write a short story where you imagine how a Norwegian girl or boy would experience their trip to and new life in America or Nigeria. 

Try to include the main elements of a short story: few characters, a limited setting, a climax and a turning point at the end.