Second-Class Citizen

by Buchi Emecheta

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How is the theme of gender discrimination present in the novel?

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Second Class Citizen is a novel written by Buchi Emecheta. It was first published in 1974. It follows the life of Adah, who grew up in Nigeria and then moved to the United Kingdom in order to join her husband there.

Gender discrimination is a very big theme in this novel. For example, Adah encounters gender discrimination in Nigeria from a very early age. While her brother is allowed to go to school, her parents do not allow her to go, just because of the fact that she is a girl. Adah is treated as a second-class citizen merely because of her gender—which is one of the explanations for the title of the book.

Another example of Adah experiencing discrimination because of the fact that she is a woman is in her marriage to Francis. Francis treats her as if she was his property. Francis expects Adah to keep giving him children, and he is not at all supportive or even interested in Adah’s feelings or Adah’s career. In fact, his disdain for Adah's desire to express herself is so great that he destroys the manuscript of Adah’s first book. However, Adah is a very strong woman and keeps fighting for her independence, which culminates in Adah leaving her husband. At this point, Adah has finally managed to overcome the restraints of gender discrimination to become a free woman in her own right.

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