Adah the heroine of second class citizen is portrayed as an intelligent and ambitious young girl who had to fight against substantial odds to achieve education in Lagos. As a child, she had to inject herself into the class of the friendly neighboring teacher before she was enrolled in the School. This is so because her parents had fears about sending girls to school. Life became tough for Adah when her liberal father died shortly after her registration at the school. After a life of object misery and exploitation as well as hard work and proper self-motivation, Adah was able to win a scholarship in the highly competitive secondary school entrance examinations. She later obtained a job as a librarian at the American consulate in Lagos, which gave her the comforts of middle -class life. She later married Francis Obi in order to obtain essential protection, support and love. Francis Obi decided to go Britain to continue with his studies and Adah accepted his idea because it offered an opportunity for her to accomplish her own childhood dreams of going to study in England. Adah followed her husband together with their three children and her life in England changed significantly. Therefore, the paper will discuss how going to England influenced Adah and how her new experiences improved on her life.
Going to England made Adah learn to be an independent woman. This is so because she had to support her family and her own dreams due to the irresponsibility of her husband. When she arrived in England, she realized that her husband who was earlier dependent on her was even worse and manipulative. This is so because his lifestyle was characterized by gross antisocial behavior, a feeling of inferiority, idleness and unreliability. She tried to support the family and take care of the home, but became clear to her that her husband's irresponsibility was direct proportion to his desire to create more children. For instance, when Adah confronted him with the domestic problem, Francis became defensive and started abusing her (Emecheta 32). Therefore, in order to end the abuse and irresponsibility of her husband, Adah aimed to become independent. Therefore, the irresponsibility of Francis motivated Adah to become independent In England in England.
Meanwhile, she changed from being naïve to a courageous woman who wanted to fight for her right by being independent. This is so because violence from Francis, who thought it was adios fault made her to change. Adah argues, “Typical Igbo way of thinking. It is always the woman’s fault if there’s been a fight between a husband and his wife” (Emecheta 3). Therefore, Adah changed in order to become a better writer and independent woman by freeing herself from the exploitative marriage. To achieve this she had to create own identity and try to understand human relationships better. This is so because Adah asserted her independence in a manner that indicate that she was ready to control her own and her children’s lives.
Her decision to be separated from her husband changed her opinion that ‘all it takes to have a successful marriage is to be married to a young spouse of modest means”( Emecheta 35). Although Francis denied the existence of Adah and children, she was determined to accept responsibility for the children. She understood that she was completely wrong looking up to Francis as a source of support. She realized in order to succeed in both her creative endeavors and rearing of her children, she had to take full control of her life. Therefore, it is clearly going to England changed Adah and her experience with Francis improved her life because she learns to be independent.
Going to England made Adah learn to accept her identity. Therefore, acceptance of her identity changed Adah and experiences with racism improved her life. Despite racism in England, Adah had the determination to move forward in the community that did not accept her. This is so because having moved from family hierarchy in the upper class in Lagos, she had to accept her new identity as second class citizens in England. By accepting her identity, she was able to improve her life via own gritty strength and intelligence. She resisted adapting new culture and internally fought prejudice, which she experienced. She persistently searched for freedom in order to obtain her dream and be accepted as part of society in the England. This is so because she realized that England was not want she expected and in order to survive in the racism society she had to accept her identity. This made her stronger than she would have been in Lagos and was extremely grateful.
In order to be accepted in society, she had to fight against England society and its concept about women. She had to accept her identity because in England, she was referred to as second class citizen. For instance, when she decided to go to England her husband says, “the day you arrive in England, you will be a second class citizen, and you cannot discriminate against your own people because we are a second class” (Emecheta 37). Adah did not seem bothered because she was out for success and determined to show everyone that she can become first-rated in England.
Therefore, in order to prove her identity, Adah looked for the first class job in order to be respected in the new society. Although Adah did not regard herself as a second-class citizen in England, she was adversely affected by discouraging words from Francis. For, instance, her husband's words had a psychological effect on her because whenever she went into large clothes stores, she would target the counters with soiled and discarded items (Emecheta 27). This is so because she was afraid of what white people could react. Similarly, she would purchase the substandard goods, even if she had enough money for standard ones.
Racism is another factor that changes Adah. Adah as a child was determined to fulfill her own childhood dreams of going to study in England. For instance, her encounter with Trudy, she learns that white people have the same shortcomings like other people in Nigeria. Therefore, Adah eludes the issue of racial stereotypes by indicating white people were just like Nigerians. This is so because she learns that white people can be just dishonest and irresponsible as other people in the world. She learns that going to England should not necessarily be a pinnacle of her dream. For instance, Her nanny Trudy made Adah realize the true nature of racism during her experience with France and house hunting in London. Trudy despite her living standard used to treat Adah’s children badly. Her immoral values made Adah conclude that white people have the same shortcomings like other people in Nigeria (Emecheta 52). Another example is when she was exposed to petty jealousy and envy from fellow Nigerians living in London. These characters who included landlord and landlady of the Ashdown Street were also just like white full of spite and malice, which were meant bring Adah down to the inferior level (Emecheta 52). This is so because they allowed white people to relegate them. It is portrayed that because of their hateful attitude toward Adah qualify for the roles of detractors of the heroine.
Similarly, Adah thought that since Nigeria people are like the missionaries it could be easy to adopt in the England. This is so because she thought her coming to UK that people would also be like missionaries and accept her freely. Therefore, she struggles in England just like in Nigeria in order to improve her quality of life. Although it was extremely difficult, she became wealthy and successful woman in Nigeria but coming to England proved hard because the socioeconomic resources were available for naïve people. This is so because it was hard for black people to get a good life because of racism. She then started to struggle against racism and gender discrimination, which was portrayed by her abusive husband. In order to fight against violence Adah decided to learn about women’s rights movement and birth control method, which improved her life. Her struggles as a second class citizen gave improved her life because she was able to live well in a white society despite being black. Going to England shows the effect of the skin color in the Adah’s life.
In a recap, the second class citizen describes Adah struggle for fulfillment, freedom and identity in the society largely dominated and controlled by men. Despite her challenges and struggle, Adah did not give up hope of living the dream of becoming rated as a first-class citizen. She also struggled to become the first black woman to live well in white society. Therefore, her struggles did not deter Adah from achieving her dream in the England.
Emecheta, Buchi. Second-class Citizen. Oxford: Heinemann, 1994. Print.