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"the Joys of Motherhood" Response

Essay by review  •  December 12, 2010  •  Essay  •  547 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,282 Views

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"The Joys of Motherhood" Response

"The Joys of Motherhood" by Buchi Emecheta provides the reader with a detailed insight into the life of an Ibo family in the mid 20th century through the story of the tormented character Nnu Ego. The clash between the traditional Ibo culture and that of the modernized culture in Lagos is the strongest theme throughout the novel and provides the backdrop for all of the action in the story. By far the most interesting aspect of the book however, is the impact that this clash has upon the traditional roles and responsibilities of Ibo manhood and womanhood respectively.

As the story progresses in Lagos the traditional Ibo roles for both male and female are challenged again and again. It is obvious that this is the struggle Emecheta wanted to dealing alluding to the roles of male and female. In the novel many of the things that were typical measures of manhood and womanhood "manly" work, fertility, etc. were in direct conflict with the circumstances surrounding a modern life in Lagos. For example, in Lagos, as in today's society, providing for one's family is one of the most critical measures of manhood, regardless of the job. Obviously some jobs are more respected than others, but a washer is no less manly work than anything else because it pays the bills just the same. Naife's job however, horrifies Nnu Ego because it is most definitely traditional woman's work and leads her to question Naife's manhood.

A woman's role in the culture was questioned more than anything else through the emphasis upon fertility. The more children the better for a woman's reputation, but it also becomes increasingly hard to provide for them all. This was the primary conflict which tormented Nnu Ego throughout the story. At the beginning of the story she wants nothing more than a child, both for herself and to fulfill her perceived role as a child-bearer. When her first born later dies she is so crushed that she attempts suicide. Later in the book, when she has 7 children to call her own, her life looks even more hopeless than in the beginning. Traditional mantras should have emphasized her fulfillment in her fertility, but the struggles of providing for a family in Lagos, especially while Naife is gone to war, eats away at her until she regrets having children in the first place. The action that takes place in between these

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