The book Second-Class Citizen was published by Buchi Emecheta in 1976. The novel tells the story of Adah, a young Nigerian woman. Since she was a young girl, Adah had dreamed of moving to the United Kingdom, studying there, and becoming a writer. At that point in time, Nigeria was...
The book Second-Class Citizen was published by Buchi Emecheta in 1976. The novel tells the story of Adah, a young Nigerian woman. Since she was a young girl, Adah had dreamed of moving to the United Kingdom, studying there, and becoming a writer. At that point in time, Nigeria was a colony within the British Empire.
From the beginning chapters, Adah regularly faces obstacles to pursuing her dreams. As a young woman, her purpose within her family is to be useful, to survive, and to marry well. Adah resists the pressures of her native culture and repeatedly attempts to avoid matrimony. However, she eventually realizes that marriage might give her an excuse to move to the United Kingdom. Adah sends her husband, Francis, to England to study while Adah stays in Nigeria to support her family. Eventually, Adah devises a plan and convinces her father-in-law that she should move to England with her two children to be with Francis.
The relocation proves difficult, as Adah originally hailed from a higher class in Nigeria and becomes a minority in England. Adah must devote her time and energy to supporting her family. She struggles emotionally with racism and classism in her new home, combined with Nigerian cultural expectations and poor treatment from her husband. These multiple issues force Adah to put her dreams on hold. She continues to bear more children in her devotion to motherhood. Throughout these hardships, Adah shows strength and never abandons her dreams.
In the last chapter of the book, Adah finally turns her dreams of writing into reality. Adah is not sure of the age at which she first became aware of her dream in life, because her native culture forced her to suppress her individual aspirations in favor of being useful as a woman. The narrative in Second-Class Citizen tells an impressive story of feminine strength as Adah balances external expectations with her own internal aspirations.