Essay, Pages 3 (681 words)
The present paper mainly explores the mother’s intricacy, questions the blessedness of marriage as an institution, and explores the perceptions as mothers. The purpose is to interpret from a feminist perspective and see whether or not the institution of “motherhood” can ultimately give power to women to be noticeable in vital areas of human deeds. Many African authors have been dealt with extensively with the notion of motherhood. Catherine Obianuju Acholunu has coined the term ‘Mothers’ as an alternative to Western feminism.
Buchi Emecheta’s The Joy of Motherhood talks about motherhood in the Ibo society as a power game of desire and control. Nnu Ego tries to become an ideal mother. But found no life outside the preview of motherhood.
Keywords: Mother, Motherhood, Ibo Tradition, Introspection,
Buchi Emecheta’s The Joy of Motherhood is one of the most complex Bildungsroman novels written in colonial Nigeria across the early- to mid-twentieth century, which describes the protagonist’s journey of a twenty –five years period.
The author has underlined the protagonist, Nnu Ego’s escalation from a strong tradition-bound character to a feminist. Her efforts for proving the validity through motherhood are saddened at every turn, unfortunately, subverted by a multifarious and complex set of contradictions she finds herself incapable of the bargain. The novel is dedicated to all mothers who open with the first chapter The Mother and end with the last chapter, The Canonized Mother. It offers a scathing analysis of patriarchal, colonial curtailment faced by mothers like Nnu Ego, who’s societal worth based on, first, her ability to bear children and second, her willingness to meet the desire and serviceability in male-oriented Ibo culture.
In the rigid and tradition-oriented Ibo society, women were acknowledged as ‘the trees that bear fruits’.
The traditions played a vital role in the progression of an idea of motherhood. They believed that motherhood would bring the contended and distinguished life Emecheta employs the technique of mother’s introspection in which the protagonist realized that she has not brought fulfillment in the family. Found herself as a doubly colonized mother, Nnu Ego expresses the sufferings as well as sacrifice in her statement just after the arrival of her new twin daughters. Being caught in the web of childbirth and complicated situation, she had one such epiphanic moment. The psychological temperament and grief of a mother expressed in the following statement which presents the Nigerian women’s response to a widespread predicament. In her monologue, she says,
“God, when will you create a woman who will be fulfilled in herself, a full human being, not anybody’s appendage? I was born alone, and I shall die alone. What have I gained from all this? Yes, I have many children, but what do I have to feed them on? In my life. I have to work myself to the bone to look after them. I have to give them my all. And if I am lucky enough to die in peace, I even have to give them my soul. They will worship my dead spirit to provide for them: it will be hailed as a good spirit so long as there are plenty of yams and children in the family, but if anything should go wrong, if a young wife does not conceive or there is a famine, my dead spirit will be blamed. When will I be free?” (p.186)
In the Nigerian writings, this is something new where introspective female characters give voice to their emotions. The classic novel, The Joy of Motherhood, challenges the extraordinary expectations of women in the name of the ideal mother and helps to solidify an African women’s literary tradition. While articulating this idea from the traditionalist point of view of Nnu Ego, Emecheta gave impetus to the fact that women have the collective responsibility to condemn and contribute to the societal order. The novel was given the title borrowed from the closing sentence of Flora Nwapa’s famous novel, Efuru. The closing sentence elevates a paradox about the much consulted childless river goddess Uhamiri: “She has never experienced the joy of motherhood. Why then did women worship her?”1