Girls at War

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Twelve stories by the internationally renowned novelist which recreate with energy and authenticity the major social and political issues that confront contemporary Africans on a daily basis. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Curriculet Details
41 Questions
43 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring irony, the literary contributions of Chinua Achebe, as well as annotations describing Nigerian culture and folklore, and the Nigerian Civil War of 1967. Students will explore the themes of tradition vs. modernization and the pervasive effects of a country's war on its people. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Before you begin reading this collection of stories, it is important for you to understand a little bit about this famous writer, Chinua Achebe. Watch the video below that was filmed when this legendary literary figure died in 2013.  (This annotation contains a video)

The Madman

You can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers using the "Define" feature. Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Try using it on the word "cudgel." 
Ogili is an African food. This book is a collection of stories about Africa and its culture and therefore will be filled with many words from Africa. Use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words that you come across.  
The man in this story "holds conversation" with the highway, and begs it "not to continue the journey without him." This personification suggests which of the following? 
List three details we've learned about Nwibe. 
It is quite customary for African men to have more than one wife. Mgboye is Nwibe's first wife. Udenkwo is Nwibe's second, or junior wife. 
An adage is a traditional expression that explains a common experience or an observation about life.This must be an African adage. What do you think it means? 
The madman is the unnamed man of the story's beginning. He was kicked out of his hut by two women who later brought four of their village men to intimidate the man into allowing them to use his hut. Nwibe was one of those men. Nwibe was also the man who screamed at him from the lorry and had his children throw rocks at him as he traveled. 
The madman is outrunning Nwibe. What is the writer referring to as "his unaccustomed encumbrance"? 
Irony is when something is the opposite of what's expected. There are different types of irony and they occur frequently both in literature and in life. Watch the video on the different types of irony. Then decide which type is occurring now in this story.  (This annotation contains a video)
Think about the title of this story. Which type of irony is exemplified in this story?  
Which of the following character traits brought about Nwibe's public disgrace and downfall? 

The Voter

This is a political party. 
This highlighted sentence suggests which of the following about the man the villagers of Umuofia voted in at the last election? 
The writer personifies the moon here to suggest what about politics? 
Roof is campaigning for Marcus Ibe to be reelected as the village's Minister of Culture. Their political party is the People's Alliance party, PAP. The opposing political party is the Progressive Organization Party, POP. 
Roof believes that he could vote for Maduko, the political opponent of Marcus. Not only would nobody know, but Roof thinks it won't make a difference in Marcus' certain win. 
All involved in this election seem to know that votes depend on what? 
You know something in this part of the story that Marcus Ibe does not know. What do you call this type of irony? 

Marriage Is a Private Affair

Lagos is a city in Nigeria and one of the fastest growing cities in the world.  (This annotation contains an image)
In what season is December in Nigeria? 
Many countries still arrange marriages.  (This annotation contains an image)
One of the Chinua Achebe's purposes in writing was to reveal the culture of his country to others. List two things you've learned so far about the culture. 
How do the woman of Nnaemeka's village treat Neme? 
Quiz on "The Madman," The Voter," and "Marriage is a Private Affair" 


Use the Define feature on the word enmity. "Amicus" is the Latin root for friendship. Which of the following words is an antonym of enmity? 
Akueke's mother would break off a twig from a cassava tree that has many leaves and the little girl could be protected from the sun.  (This annotation contains an image)
Palm wine is an alcoholic drink made from the sap of various palm trees like palmyra and coconut palms. 
Ani, aka Ala, is the Goddess of Fertility and considered the "Mother" goddess of all. According to the Ibo people of Nigeria, Ani is present when you are born and again when you die.  (This annotation contains an image)
This "swelling disease" that causes the stomach to swell is also mentioned in Achebe's most famous novel, "Things Fall Apart." This classic book is about Okonkwo, a Nigerian Igbo and his life. Click on the link below and watch a student made book trailer of this classic novel.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chike's School Days

The Osu caste system in Nigeria can be traced back to a religious belief system, practiced within the Igbo nation. According to the Igbo's, Osu's are people historically owned by gods. Therefore they are considered to be a 'living sacrifice', an outcast who is looked down upon. 
What is the "white man's religion"? 
This means his religion class was Catholism. 
Which of the following professions would most appeal to Chike? 

The Sacrificial Egg

The writer uses which of the following methods to make the market real for the reader? 
Nkwo is the goddess of the market. Naming market days after goddesses is an Igbo tradition. 
The Niger is the third longest river in Africa. (This annotation contains an image)
This sentence includes an implied metaphor. This means that only one of the two things being compared is revealed; the other thing is for the reader to infer.Who or what are the ants in this implied metaphor? 
According to the article you just read, what was discovered to protect a person from smallpox? 
According to Igbo mythology, Kitikpa is the god of smallpox. Smallpox is one of the deadliest diseases in human history. Click on the link below and look over the timeline on smallpox epidemics. Then click on 5/14/1796 and read the pop-up. (This annotation contains a link)
This is yet another reference to the "swelling disease" that Achebe included in the story "Akueke." Remember, the brothers put Akeuke out in the woods when she had this affliction. This tradition, although horrific, may stem from fear of a disease being contagious as well as supernatural fears often associated with someone struck with an illness. 
What is being personified in this paragraph? 
Mmanwu are the night masquerades in Nigeria. The Igbo masquerades, mmanwu, are traditional performances by young men within the community.  (This annotation contains an image)
What can we infer from this sentence? 

Vengeful Creditor

Mrs. Emenike seems like a bit of a snob. List two specific details from the text that support this statement. 
"Free primary" means education, or public school. In America we often take a free education for granted. Sending your child to school in America is compulsory, not a choice or privilege. 
The writer uses this ________________ to show that Nigeria's children have parents who care about them. 
The exchange among the Cabinet leaders shows Achebe's ______________ of them. 
There are several sides to the government's program of free primary education. Explain Veronica's side.  
Which of the following words best describes Mr. Emenike? 
What does Vero not understand? 
Explain what Mr. Emenike is implying with the highlighted proverb. 
As a reader, you understand that Vero tried to kill the young little boy because she wanted what? 
The writer is conveying the theme of this story through Martha's thoughts. Which of the following best states this theme? 

Dead Men's Path

Onitsha is a bustling, cultural center in southeastern Nigeria. The Onitsha Market is one of the largest markets in West Africa.  (This annotation contains an image)
Do you foresee that Obi, the headmaster, is making a mistake and should leave the path alone? 
This paragraph reflects what aspect of the old Nigerian culture? 
"Let the hawk perch and let the eagle perch."In your own words, explain what the priest means by this saying.  
Which phrase shows that the Supervisor disagrees with Obi's actions? 

Uncle Ben's Choice

What is Ben afraid of? 
This is a Raleigh bicycle of the 1920's.  (This annotation contains an image)
White Horse is a brand of blended whiskey. 
"The Lady of the River Niger" is more African mythology and folklore.  (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz on "Akueke," Chike's School Days,""Dead Man's Path," "Uncle Ben's Choice," "Vengeful Creditor," 

Civil Peace

This story, along with much of Chinua Achebe's writing, is about the Nigerians' struggle with the Civil War in 1967. The war was a fight between the Muslims of Nigeria and the Igbo's who were Christians. Led by Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu, several states formed Biafra and fought for their independence. Watch the video below which include pictures from this historic war.  (This annotation contains a video)
Akara balls are a food made of ground beans. They are then deep fried.  (This annotation contains an image)
The people are unable to pronounce the Latin phrase, "ex gratia" which means "as a favor." Jonathan gets the twenty pounds in exchange for turning in rebel money to the Treasury.  
The Civil War being referenced is the civil war between Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra. Biafra seceded from Nigeria in 1967. After three years and many deaths, Nigeria took back control of Biafra. 
Considering that the war is finally over, what literary device does the title of this story "Civil Peace" represent? 

Sugar Baby

The narrator is telling you that they like to sit around and compare stories of hard times. It is clear these characters appreciate what they have like bread, butter, and sugar, and they do not want to forget how lucky they are. 
"It is clear to me that an African creative writer who tries to avoid the big social and political issues of contemporary Africa will end up being completely irrelevant --- like the absurd man in the proverb who leaves his burning house to pursue a rat fleeing from the flames." In your own words, interpret this proverb and what Achebe is implying by using it. 
Why is Father Doherty so enraged? 
Tate and Lyle is one of the leading manufacturers of cane sugar in the world. The narrator is joking that Cletus would promise everything to his wife, except his beloved sugar. 

Girls at War

This is a reference to Biafra. 
During the war, Biafra did not have the money to import enough food to feed its people. Many died of starvation and malnutrition. 
List three words or phrases the writer uses in the highlighted section to reveal the starvation the people are experiencing during the war. 
The main character, Nwankwo, thinks what has happened to the girl is tragic because she once was passionate about the cause of the war. Now it seems she is allowing herself to be used by a rich man who is profiting from the war. 
Why do the occupants of the car jump out and go into the bush? 
Do you think it is a type of "war sickness" or might the girls be willing to sleep with men for survival reasons? Nwankwo's is speaking from a man's perspective. 
Consider Nwankwo's earlier remark about girls during war. Is he now taking advantage of Glady's fear? 
This story has a third-person limited point of view. It is written using Nwankwo's thoughts and actions, so you only see Gladys through Nwankwo's eyes. Explain how this story would be different if told from an omniscient narrator. 
Of all the stories in this collection, this seems to be Achebe's most searing depiction of the war and its damaging effects. 
This is a crude reference to wearing a condom. This is more evidence that this young girl has been hardened by the war. 
Nwankwo is seeing Gladys more sympathetically now. He seems to see her innocence even though she tries to mask it. 
This young disabled soldier probably symbolizes which of the following? 
The young soldier cannot get out of the car. He cries out, and Gladys stops and runs back to help him. Nwankwo keeps running into the bush. Then there is a huge explosion. 
Quiz on "Civil Peace," "Sugar Baby," "Girls at War"