Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Ihuoma (ee-hew-OH-mah), Emenike’s twenty-two-year-old wife, married to him for six years. Before her marriage and move to Omakachi, she lived in the nearby village of Omigwe, where her parents, Ogbuji and Okachi, still reside. She spends the majority of her time caring for her three children and her husband. Emenike dies suddenly of “lock-chest,” and Ihuoma is left a lonely widow with her husband’s land to tend and few future marriage prospects. Her beauty, strength, and kind nature endear her to everyone, especially a young man named Ekwueme. At first, she fights off his advances, knowing that he has been promised to someone else. The village medicine man, Anyika, tells Ekwueme that Ihuoma had inhabited the spirit world as the Sea King’s wife until she preferred to live with mortals; the Sea King becomes jealous when any man loves her, killing the man and leaving her forever alone on Earth. This fate proves to be true for Ihuoma when she finally gives in to Ekwueme after his promised wife, Aruhole, “poisons” him with a love potion. Ihuoma nurses him back to health with her presence, but her son accidentally shoots Ekwueme with an arrow, killing him and again leaving Ihuoma without a husband.


Ekwueme (ay-KWEW-ay-may), the son of Adaku and Wigwe. He is an accomplished trapper and is well-liked in Omakachi. After Emanike’s death, he realizes his fondness for Ihuoma and begins to visit her regularly. Although an arranged marriage with an Omigwe woman, Aruhole, looms in his future, Ekwueme pursues Ihuoma and eventually asks her to be his wife. Ihuoma’s refusal on the grounds of tradition crush him, but he still hopes to change her mind until his parents convince him otherwise; they remind him of his duty and obligation to uphold family honor. Ekwueme submits, marrying Aruhole, an overly emotional and often irrational mate. He languishes in this unhappy...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Banyiwa-Horne, Naana. “African Womanhood: The Contrast Perspectives of Flora Nwapa’s Efuru and Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine.” In Ngambika: Studies of Women in African Literature, edited by Carole Boyce Davies and Anne Adams Graves. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1986. Gives a strictly feminist reading of the writers’ contrasting portrayal of their female protagonists. Concludes that Amadi’s perspective is male oriented and therefore limiting.

Gikandi, Simon. “Myth, Language and Culture in Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God and Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine.” In Reading the African Novel. London: Heinemann, 1987. Suggests a reinterpretation of the narrowly held view that, in Achebe’s and Amadi’s novels, myth is simply an expression of a community’s fears, hopes, or expectations.

Obiechina, Emmanuel. Culture, Tradition and Society in the West African Novel. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975. Discusses The Concubine as one of ten major West African novels. This classic study gives a comprehensive analysis of many aspects of the novel—characterization, setting, language, and aesthetics.

Osundare, Niyi. “As Grasshoppers to Wanton Boys: The Role of the Gods in the Novels of Elechi Amadi.” African Literature Today 11 (1980): 97-109. An insightful essay on Amadi’s preoccupation with fatalism. It examines how supernatural forces shape human action and control the plots of Amadi’s novels.