Second-Class Citizen

by Buchi Emecheta

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Discuss the theme of determination in the novel Second-Class Citizen.

In Second-Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta, Adah exhibits great determination from the time she is a child. Through determination, she gets an education, decides whom she will marry, follows her husband to England, pursues a writing career, and vows to care for her children after her husband leaves the family. Adah's determination helps her survive.

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In Buchi Emecheta's novel Second-Class Citizen, Adah often seems like the embodiment of determination. Even as a young girl, she is determined to go to school. While her family thinks that school is unnecessary for her because she is female, Adah begins attending school on her own and is allowed to continue. She remains in school even after she goes to live with her uncle's family. In his home, she is treated like a mere servant, but she is determined to continue her education, and her uncle allows it, mostly because education will allow the family to ask a higher bride-price for Adah.

Adah's family has plenty of ideas about whom she should marry, too, but Adah's determination again guides her. She chooses Francis Obi, a young man who cannot even pay her bride-price. Francis goes to study in England, and at first his parents prevent Adah from joining him. As always, however, Adah is determined to go, and she does.

Adah needs more determination than ever when she arrives in England. She and her family are treated as second-class citizens and face a great deal of discrimination. Adah gets a job, perseveres through hardships (including her daughter's serious illness), and deals with her husband's abuse. Along the way, she educates herself further and even writes a novel. Eventually, Francis leaves her and refuses to claim or support their children, but Adah is still determined to make her way in the world and care for her children.

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