In Second Class Citizen Buchi Emecheta writes about a girl called Adah, who dreams of leaving Nigeria and instead wants to live in the United Kingdom, a country she imagines to be the land of her dreams.
Adah is a free spirit, and does not want to marry—but eventually she gives in and marries Francis, in the hope that he will provide for her and protect her, helping her to reach her dream. However, it is then decided that Francis is to move to the United Kingdom in order to study—ironically funded by Adah’s salary, which means he has become dependent on her, rather than providing her with support and financial stability—a first indication of his failures as a husband. At first, Adah has to stay behind in Nigeria, but then she is finally able to follow him to England with their children.
The initial accommodation that Adah encounters upon her arrival in Britain is utterly hideous. This can be seen as a further failure of Francis as a husband, as he was not able to provide Adah and their family with a proper roof over her head, which is what Adah had expected from her husband.
Francis and Adah don’t have sexual intercourse out of love—Sex is merely oppressive and functional. Francis sees sex as his right, and keeps on wanting more and more children, despite Adah’s reservations. Adah has to comply, whether she wants to or not. Again, this shows how Francis is failing as a husband, as he is only interested in his own goals in life, he does not care about the feelings of his wife at all.
This also links in with the fact that Francis becomes more and more physically abusive towards Adah. He can’t bear the fact that his wife has a life and a will of her own, he even burns the manuscript of Adah’s first novel. This desire to control his wife and not allowing her any freedom is without a doubt Francis’ biggest failure as a husband. Instead of being loving and respectful, Francis is controlling, selfish and abusive towards his wife.