The American Embassy is a short story set in Nigeria precisely during the time of General Abacha’s regime. The story revolves around a woman who looses both her son and her husband although in different ways due to the regime. Her husband’s life is under threat due to some anti government articles he writes in his newspaper. He has to flee the country and she helps him escape by driving him to his co-editor’s house in the trunk ot ner car. This leaves ner as all as ner tour year old son vulnerable when the soldiers come for her husband.
In their frustration and onfusion about their inability to find her husband, the soldiers kill her son. All alone, she applies for an asylum visa to leave Nigeria but realises that she is not ready to sell the story of her son’s death for an asylum. She struggles with the feeling of guilt that she has disappointed her son. She leaves the embassy in the middle of her interview probably heading for her village as dreamt of doing. 2- Her name is not mentioned probably for the sake of mystery. It can also be because she represents a whole group of people and not Just herself.
In other words what she went through could have happened to lots of other Nigerian women living in that same era. The author therefore does not want readers to regard her situation as a peculiar one but to understand that it was a common occurrence at that time hence the use of the pronoun she which represents every female worldwide. 3- The term allegory originates from the Greek word allegoria which means speaking otherwise. It is an extended metaphor in which principles or ideas are abstractly represented through the use of characters, figures or events.
Fictional characters and actions are used to understand and express aspects of concepts relating to human existence. Her husband allegorizes selfishness, false heroism and cowardice. This can be seen in how wants to be regarded as a Messiah in the eyes of Nigerians but cannot be a hero to his own family to which he owes the greatest allegiance. When danger comes his way he quickly escapes leaving his wife to deal with his mess while he is safe. A true hero would have seen to the welfare of his family before thinking of his own well being.
The female character in the short story allegorizes bravery and selflessness. Her selflessness is displayed in how she helps her husband escape without paying much regards to her own safety. She puts his interests above hers, a true act of selflessness. The people at the embassy represent the struggles of the Nigerian people and their desperation during General Abacha military regime. Her four year old son allegorizes innocence. He shows that during wars and conflicts it is the innocent that suffer even more than those who have an active role in the onflict.
This four year old boy probably knew nothing of what was going on but he ended up loosing his life. The story nas an open ending and ends abruptly. Thee issues raised are not tully resolved and readers are left in suspense about what happens next with regards to the main character’s next actions and also what happens to her husband. Many themes are raised in the short story. One of them is the theme of violence. Violence is displayed in how the soldiers mistreat and maltreat the Nigerians at the embassy without any remorse or regrets.
It can also be seen in how an innocent four year old boy is killed without much remorse. There is also the theme of selfishness against selflessness. Selflessness on the part of the female character and selfishness on the part of her husband. Although she was an anti-government activist before she had her son she gave it all up when she gave birth while her husband was unwilling to make the same sacrifice. There is also the theme of heroism against exaggerated selfishness.
Whilst most Nigerians considered her husband a hero because he was supposedly brave enough o write what everyone else was thinking, she considered him as merely selfish, someone who wanted to be regarded as hero but who when it comes to the heart of the matter is as cowardly as everyone else. The theme of suppression is also displayed. The people had been so suppressed that they had even become used to the sight of seeing others being beaten by soldiers for doing nothing wrong. They simply accepted it as the state of affairs and while some tried to fght against it, most Nigerians took it as it was.