At the start of this novel, Adah is a young Nigerian girl who has dreams of getting an education and making something of her life. By the end, she is a battered wife determined to leave her husband, the devoted mother of numerous children, the author of a manuscript that she wants to have published, and a woman determined to be in control of her own destiny.
Adah strikes a fine balance between meeting the demands that Nigerian society places on her and being determined to forge her own destiny. From a young age, she fights to be allowed to get an education. Her tenacity creates a way for her to complete her secondary education, but in her culture, she knows she will have to marry in order to pursue a tertiary education. She becomes Francis Obi's wife and serves as a breadwinner for him and his family throughout most of the story. When she joins Francis in London, she quickly realizes that she will no longer have the same respected role in society that she had in Lagos. In other words, Adah becomes a "second-class citizen."
Throughout the novel, Adah shows herself to be a woman of strength and resourcefulness. Despite her reservations about having more children, she is a dutiful wife who, at least for most of the story, submits to her husband. At the end, however, she breaks free. Despite being pregnant with a fifth child, she resolves to make a life for herself and her children without her abusive, controlling husband.