Having studied abroad and served in government and educational sector in Nigeria at different times and towns, there is no doubt that Nwapa had mingled enough with the society to perceive the way women are treated. Nwapa is remembered as the first African woman to write a novel. Plot Summary Efuru, a young woman in her early twenties falls in love with Adizua who is too poor to pay her bride price. Because of the love she has for him, she elopes with Adizua. Efuru makes consistent efforts to get along with her husband but to no avail. While her husband is still away, her only child takes ill and dies.
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Having studied abroad and served in government and educational sector in Nigeria at different times and towns, there is no doubt that Nwapa had mingled enough with the society to perceive the way women are treated. Nwapa is remembered as the first African woman to write a novel. Plot Summary Efuru, a young woman in her early twenties falls in love with Adizua who is too poor to pay her bride price.
Because of the love she has for him, she elopes with Adizua. Efuru makes consistent efforts to get along with her husband but to no avail. While her husband is still away, her only child takes ill and dies. Efuru buries the child without her husband at the funeral. Unable to give her new husband a child, Efuru marries another woman for him after he has already taken one for himself but this does not make him treat her any better. When Gilbert finally reappears, he accuses his wife who is now sick of adultery.
He is a poor farmer who is considered by his peers as imbecile. Like his wife, Efuru, Adizua had lost his father at early age and was brought up by his mother. Perhaps his peers are right in calling him a fool. His foolishness and irresponsibility become apparent when he leaves his wife and absconds with another woman never to return not even at the death of their only daughter.
A mother of eight children, she is very good to her sister and always at her beck and call whenever she needs her help. As an experienced old woman, she is sensitive and observant. Although she talks too much, she is a good woman. She teaches Efuru a lot about life, her society and relationships. His likeness for Efuru becomes obvious when he buys an expensive piece of cloth for her. He also enquires of her personal life and welfare and listens passionately to her conversation.
She is the central character in the novel. She lost her mother while she was still very young. Although she comes from a noble family, she chooses a humble life and this complements her beauty. Her mother-in-law is fond of her. She is no doubt a good and thoughtful wife who would do nothing to hurt her husband. Although she does not have formal education, she is just as intelligent as many educated folks. Efuru is an industrious young woman who has experiences of unhappy marriages.
But she does not see these unhappy marriages as the end of her life. She is a very successful business woman. In her character, she shows us that in life we do not always get what we want but there are always options. Her message is that we should not allow other people to rule or ruin our lives.
She works hard to develop her environment. Since she knows that any good relationship has to do with faithfulness and mutual respect, she tries her best to show same to her husbands who incidentally do not reciprocate her. Efuru can be said to be more sinned against than sinning. Although she loves both men, she is intelligent enough not to let them trample on her right. He is in love with Efuru having overcome his apathy for women following his first relationship which ended in failure.
Gilbert is gruff and intolerant. He does not trust his wife and for this reason, he accuses her of committing adultery. Unlike Efuru, she is not so free with people. Perhaps her childish character could be attributed to her age. She is much younger than her husband. When Gilbert used to call her his wife when she was quite young, little wonder did she know that one day it will come true. A mother of six, she is hardworking and very helpful to her husband. She is an illiterate farmer whose only sustenance is on her farm produce.
Because of her ignorance, she weeps when she learns that her husband is going to be operated upon. She believes that her husband is going to be killed before the operation is conducted. Although she could be nagging sometimes, she respects her husband and loves him, especially when they first married.
Each time her brother beat her husband and tore his clothes, she made sure that she bought another one for him. Like Efuru who becomes a victim of one-sided love, Nwabata no doubt loves her husband more than he loves her.
It is her genuine love for him that made her marry him in the first place and continue to endure hardship. Although he is described as courageous and a mighty man in valour; he is lenient with her daughter, Efuru. His leniency is attributed to two reasons—he is no younger and he could be afraid of disturbing the peace of the colonial masters.
Like his wife, he is illiterate and his only means of livelihood is the farm. He is a very hard working farmer. Because of overwork, he develops appendicitis which threatens his life. Because of his acute poverty, he has to pawn one of his children. Apart from being poor and sometimes finds it difficult to feed his family, Nwosu is no doubt a good husband.
Unlike many men who beat their wives, he has never laid hand on his wife even when such an action would have been justified in their community. Although she was rough and raw when she first came to stay with Efuru, she soon learns and integrates fully into her new home. She is not only docile but also intelligent and sympathetic. She is fond of her mistress and calls her mother. She is no doubt a gossip but a custodian of the tradition—she wants Gilbert to get another wife for the sake of procreation.
She is a very resolute woman having refused to marry another man since the death of her husband who had jilted her many times before his death. Unlike her sister, Ajanupu, she is quite reserved. Her taciturn character is perhaps due to her sorrowful life. Themes Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. Enterprising Nature of Women It seems that the authoress deliberately uses Efuru to debunk the assumption that women are less enterprising compared with men.
Because of her astute enterprising nature, she is able to raise money within a short time to help her renegade husband pay her bride price. After that, she continues to build her business empire which later employs her husband and makes him leave his farming business which is nothing to write home about.
Importance of Children in a Marriage In African society, a child plays a central role in any marriage. In other words, the success or failure of any marriage is often measured by the number of children, especially male children such marriage is blessed with.
This is the major reason Efuru is worried and devastated when it seems a child is not coming. She knows that the only thing that can make her have a say in the family is a child. In her second marriage with Eneberi, she has to marry a younger woman who will bear him a child since she knows that she may not have one herself. Someone who is not conversant with African traditional cultures may be quick to ask if children are all there is in marriage.
Arguably, marriage is not only for procreation but also for mutual love, intimacy and help. For example, like Nwosu, many low income earners in the continent, in their wanton desire for social mobility, will get a loan or use their hard-earned little income to throw a party, buy a chieftaincy title or take another wife rather than invest such money for multiplication and profit. This is, in my opinion, the root cause of acute poverty which has become a descriptive term for the continent.
Although women are not always bestowed with the freedom to leave their husbands even when they are unfaithful, Efuru is given the freedom to leave her unfaithful husbands. This is what makes her an independent woman different from her folks. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is women that suffer more in polygamous marriages wherever they are practised. For example, Efuru has to perform some sacrifice before she could have a baby.
Again, When Efuru learns about the sickness of her former mother-in-law, she visits her and helps her to feel better. Apart from these two instances of physical acts of sacrifice, Efuru is seen sacrificing all she has to make her two marriages work and when they fail to work, she has to sacrifice her life to serve the Uhamiri, the Goddess of the Great Lake.
There is no doubt that sacrifice plays a very important role in the life of people. One has to give what one has in order to receive what one does not have. Symbols Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colours used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Like Jesus, Efuru continues to love the unloved and cares for people despite their depravity. She is a template of an ideal personality. A few examples are how she loves her rival wife who has become a thorn in her flesh and how she promises Nwosu another loan even when he has not repaid the one he collected. In other words, Adizua and Gilbert are a symbol of a renegade and depraved humanity who would rather pay evil for good.
No matter what Efuru does to make these men happy, they only think of how to make her sad. However, just like Christ, Efuru still loves them all the same. She seems to tell women that children are not the only source and should not be the only cause of their happiness. After all, they can live a happy life without children. This is the reason why she does not give her worshippers children as they wish. Summary and Analysis of Sections Chapter One Efuru meets a young man, Adizua who proposes marriage to her but has no money for her bride price.
After both parties have proclaimed their love for each other, they begin to live together without the payment of the customary bride price and the paraphernalia of traditional marriage celebration. On hearing that Efuru has eloped to live with her lover, her father sends some young men to go and bring her back. But after the young men have seen that Efuru is happy living with her lover, they decide to plead with her to convince her man to fulfil his traditional marriage obligations.
Biography[ edit ] Early years and education[ edit ] Nwapa was born in Oguta ,  in south-eastern Nigeria, the eldest of the six children of Christopher Ijeoma an agent with the United Africa Company and Martha Nwapa, a teacher of drama. At the age of 22 years she entered the university in and earned a B. A degree at the age of 26 years from University College, Ibadan , in She then went to Scotland , where she earned a Diploma in Education from Edinburgh University in
Plot summary[ edit ] The story is set in West African Igbo rural community. The protagonist, Efuru, is a strong and beautiful woman. She is the daughter of Nwashike Ogene, a hero and leader of his tribe. She falls in love with a poor farmer called Adizua and runs away with him, upsetting her people as he did not even perform the traditional wine carrying and pay her bride price. She supports her husband financially and is very loyal to him, which makes her mother-in-law and aunt by marriage very fond of her. At this point, she accepts to be helped around her house by a young girl named Ogea in order to help her parents who are in financial difficulty. However, Adizua soon abandons Efuru and their daughter Ogonim as his own father has done in past.
Shelves: 4-star , reviewed , reality-check , 1-read-on-hand , person-of-everything , pure-power-of-gr , wm , person-of-reality , r-goodreads , antidote-think-twice-read 4. It does not appeal to me. I know I am capable of suffering for greater things. But to suffer for a truant husband, an irresponsible husband like Adizua is to debase suffering. My own suffering will be noble.