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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 377

Freshwater is the debut novel of Nigerian-Tamil writer Akwaeke Emezi. The first 40–50 pages of the novel feature references to Igbo (Nigerian) mythology and its canon, particularly the various deities from that culture. This is an important aspect to the story arc of the novel because the point-of-view of the narration constantly shifts between deities that occupy the protagonist's mind. The protagonist was born in Nigeria and had a dysfunctional childhood.

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Early on in her youth it was already evident that she suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which was previously known as multiple personality disorder. However, it is implied that gods and spirits—collectively called Ogbanje—possessed her body, and this is what led to her multiple personalities. The many "spirits" that occupied and fought each other inside her were a metaphor for mental illness. The warring gods were also a metaphor for the multiple parts of our consciousness and subconsciousness fighting each other, such as the ego and the id.

It could also refer to the turbulent and often-conflicting emotions that the protagonist tried to suppress for many years. There is even a hint halfway into the novel about possible sexual identity confusion and her attempts to suppress her true self. The multiple identities of the protagonist is also a metaphor for the Nigerian diaspora—a group of people who have one foot each in different cultures. When the protagonist moves to the United States for college, the...

(The entire section contains 377 words.)

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