If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

BEFORE YOU WATCH: The Danger of a Single Story

Use the “Three Close Reads” approach as you watch the video below.
Use the “Three Close Reads” approach as you watch the video below (next in the lineup!). If you want to learn more about this strategy, click here.

First read: preview and skimming for gist

Before you watch, you should skim the transcript first. The skim should be very quick and give you the gist (general idea) of what the video is about. You should be looking at the title, thumbnails, pictures, and first few seconds of the video for the gist.

Second read: key ideas and understanding content

Now that you’ve skimmed the video transcript and taken a quick peek at the video, you should preview the questions you will be answering. These questions will help you get a better understanding of the concepts and arguments that are presented in the video. Keep in mind that when you watch the video, it is a good idea to write down any vocab you read or hear that is unfamiliar to you.
By the end of the second close read, you should be able to answer the following questions:
  1. What kinds of characters did Adichie write about as a young girl, and what did these characters do? Why is it significant that Adichie chose to write about those characters and their lives?
  2. Why did it matter that Fide’s brother had made a beautiful patterned basket? How did that affect Adichie’s understanding of the story of Fide’s family?
  3. What expectations did Adichie’s roommate have about Nigeria and Africa more broadly? According to Adichie, what gave her roommate these expectations? How does it relate to Adichie’s previous point about the story of Fide’s family?
  4. Why did Adichie’s professor think her novel lacked authenticity?
  5. What did Adichie witness during her trip to Guadalajara that surprised her? Why was it surprising to her? What did this make her realize?
  6. Why would starting a story with “secondly” affect different communities? What are examples that Adichie gives?
  7. Why did Adichie tell the student that it was a shame that young Americans were serial murderers? What was different about Adichie’s understanding of America versus the student’s understanding of Nigeria?
  8. Adichie describes negative experiences she and her family and friends have experienced in Nigeria, including poor healthcare and education, limited water, repressive governments, and poverty. She also mentions war crimes and unemployment. How, according to Adichie, do these stories fit into the stereotype of Africa as a “continent full of catastrophes.”? What, according to Adichie, is the problem with stereotypes?
  9. What are some examples Adichie gives of stories that challenge stereotypes?

Third read: evaluating and corroborating

Finally, here are some questions that will help you focus on why this video matters and how it connects to other content you’ve studied.
At the end of the third read, you should be able to respond to these questions:
  1. Adichie claims that power affects which stories are told, how they are told, and which stories become “definitive” accepted and believed. Using evidence from the video and anything else you have learned in this unit, give an example of a story which has been accepted because a powerful group had told it in a certain way.
  2. Adichie argues that beginning a story with “secondly” can completely change the story. How does order and context affect stories? Using evidence from this unit or other historical contexts, give an example of a story which can become a completely different story if you change the context or order.
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to watch! Remember to return to these questions once you’ve finished watching.

Want to join the conversation?

No posts yet.