Freshwater

by Akwaeke Emezi

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What motivates Asughara to manipulate Ada in Freshwater?

Quick answer:

Asughara's motivation for manipulating Ada is a warped desire to protect Ada by leading her into so much pain that Ada will actually kill herself and then be safe. Asughara also desires revenge against the people who have hurt Ada.

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In Akwaeke Emezi's novel Freshwater, Asughara is the ogbanje that arises in Ada after the latter is raped by Soren. Asughara is the exact opposite of Ada, for she is cruel, loud, selfish, and angry. Asughara is supposed to protect Ada from ever again being hurt by others, but really, Asughara longs for revenge and for Ada's own self-destruction.

Asughara pushes Ada into all kinds of destructive behavior because Asughara thinks that Ada would be better off dead. Only then would she really be safe. Under Asughara's influence, Ada drinks to an extreme, harms herself, becomes sexually promiscuous with men who are cruel and even dangerous, develops an eating disorder, and even attempts suicide. Asughara wants Ada to feel pain—so much pain that she will kill herself just to end it all. Then, Ada will never feel pain anymore, and perhaps, in some strange way, she will find her revenge on those who have hurt her as they watch her self destruct.

Of course, Asughara's manipulations are extremely dangerous for Ada. Ada tries to get Asughara to leave her alone, especially after Ada marries Ewan. But Asughara will not leave. Ada has let Asughara have too much power over her for too long. She has allowed herself to be manipulated, and Ada has to return to Nigeria and embark on a spiritual journey before she is finally free of Asughara and at peace with herself.

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