(Short Stories for Students)

Class Conflict
In "Vengeful Creditor" the interests of the middle class are pitted against those of both the rich and the poor. The Emenikes, with their civil service jobs, are certainly comfortable enough, although they are neither as wealthy as Mr. Ememke's friend Mike Ogudu, who owns a shipping line, nor as powerful as the Cabinet Ministers whom Mr. Emernke serves as a Permanent Secretary. Compared with the poor, however, who have barely enough to stay alive, the family is extremely well off. Because of the desperate poverty of the majority of the country's people, the Emenikes are easily able to exploit their unfortunate servants. Veronica's mother, for instance, is paid only £5 for the girl's services for an entire year, although another more knowledgeable applicant for the baby-nurse position demands a salary of £7 per month. Similarly, Mrs. Emenike feels cheated by one of the young males in the family's service who should, according to her, forfeit a month's pay in lieu of his notice to quit Yet when the gardener tries to give notice, she refuses it and finds another excuse to deny him the wages she owes him.

One of the most glaring consequences of class difference involves access to education. The middle class and the rich can afford to pay school fees, and, of course, all of the Emenike children attend school. The poor, however, are unable to pay these fees; the only educational opportunity they enjoy is the' 'free pnmadu" briefly offered by the government and then subsequently withdrawn. The middle class refuses to support this program because it would necessitate a tax increase that would confer no benefits on their own group and also because education for poor children would eliminate the vast pool of cheap, unskilled labor that serves the middle class.

The Emenikes, particularly Mrs Emenike, are barely able to contain their contempt for the poor. Mrs. Emenike is disgusted by the "grumbling cripple" who carries her packages at the market. She disapproves of "old men running little boys' errands," and seems to feel that a youngster in that position would not be complaining about having to do "monkey work" and would perhaps be more grateful for the meager tip she dispenses. When a member of the domestic staff outwits her and disappears with a full month's pay, Mrs. Emenike refers to him as a "little rat" and vows to avoid treating future servants with kindness, since in her experience, it simply does not pay. But this contempt is returned by Martha at the story's end when she expresses, if...

(The entire section is 1042 words.)