Second-Class Citizen

by Buchi Emecheta

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Examine the significance of the return of the lawyer Nweze from his studies abroad in Second-Class Citizen.

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In Buchi Emecheta's Second-Class Citizen, the return of the lawyer Nweze to Nigeria is significant because it deepens Adah's dream of going to the United Kingdom and because it shows readers a great deal about the varied reaction of the people of Adah's tribe to the Western customs affecting their lives.

Adah is only eight years old when Nweze returns from England having finished his education and become a lawyer. Adah is extremely excited by this because of her own deep desire for education and her own dream to go to the UK one day. Someone from her own village has now done so, and it now seems possible for Adah as well. Adah has already reached out for an education, but she is keeping her UK dream a secret for now, even though it gives her hope for her future. If Nweze can do it, so can she, she believes.

Nweze's return also gives us a glimpse into the varying ideas of the people of Adah's town. They are both excited and appalled by Nweze. Some are pleased at his success, and the women give him quite a welcome. He has represented them well, and he has made something of himself. Yet he has chosen to come home and serve his people, and they expect him to make things better for them.

Others, however, are not as thrilled. Adah's mother, for instance, has little respect for Western law or customs. She is disgusted by women who try to look more Western. Adah's father thinks that Nweze has probably become weak from his time in England. Indeed, there is a split among the people about whether one of their own should or should not get a Western education and embrace Western practices, and Nweze's return sets this split into sharp relief.

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