Culture And Discrimination Against Women In Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys Of Motherhood And Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus

Culture And Discrimination Against Women In Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys Of Motherhood And Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus


Over the years, the major challenge facing the female folk is discrimination and unfair treatment in the society. This work discusses cultural practices that discriminate against women. This research work is a critical analysis of two African novels: Buchi Emecheta’s The Joy of motherhood, and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. For secondary sources, materials were got from the internet and library. It is discovered that several cultural practices discriminate and oppress the female folks. Such practices are identified in the selected texts for this work and critically examined. It is hoped that an awareness of such practices will eventually eradicate the social inequalities that are engendered by such practice in the African society.



Table of content



Purpose of Study.

Scope and Limitation.

Research Problems.

Research Methodology



2.0 Introduction

2.1 Origin of Feminism.

Definition of Feminism

Aims of Feminism.

Types of Feminism.

Feminists in Africa

2.2.0 Discrimination.

2.2.1 Type of Discrimination.

2.2.2 Discrimination against Women

2.3.0 Cultural Against Women

2.3.1 Subordination of Women.

2.3.2 Female Oppression in Widowhood Practices

2.3.3 Female Genital Cutting/Female Circumcision.

2.3.4 Polygamous Practices

2.3.5 Female Sacrifice

Background Information on Buchi Emecheta and a Synopsis of the Joys of


Chimamanda Adichie (Purple Hibiscus)


3.0 Introduction

3.1 Practices against Women

3.1.1 Preference of Male over Female Child

3.1.2 Polygamous Practices Acquisition of Concubine Disrespect to Legal Wives Multiple Wives

3.1.3 Maltreatment of Wives by Husbands Wife Battering Denial of Marital Rights Dereliction of Duties

3.1.4 Marriage and Bride Price

3.1.5 Female Sacrifice Sacrifice of Life/salve Murder Sacrifice to Gods Sacrifice to Marriage

3.1.6 Widowhood Practices Marriage to Deceased’s Brother Maltreatment of Widows Effect of Widowhood Practices on Families

3.2 Cultural Beliefs about Motherhood

3.2.1. Child Bearing (Male)

3.3.2 Ensure Peace and Order

3.2.3 Valuing Children

3.2.4 Being a Prisoner

3.3 Survival of Women without Men

3.4 Conclusion



4.0 Introduction.

4.1 Discrimination against women in Purple Hibiscus

4.1.1 Violence against women Wife Battering Wife Enslavery Wife Desertion

4.1.2 Preference of male to female child

4.1.3 Maltreatment of women by men

4.1.4 Interference in families

4.2 Child Upbringing

4.3 Effect of Parentage on Children

4.4 Effects of Discrimination on Women

4.5 Survival of women without men

4.6 Conclusion.



5.0 Introduction.

5.1 Summary.

5.2 Findings.

5.3 Conclusion

5.4 Recommendations




Throughout history women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men, wifehood and womanhood were considered as women’s most significant professions, and they were long considered naturally weaker than men. Their rights and being were taken for granted. Silence became the virtue of women but with education, the silence was broken. Chambers 21st.century dictionary (2004, p. 327) says:

Culture is the custom, ideas, values etc of a particular civilization, society or social group, especially at a particular time, and the appreciation of art, music, literature etc. improvement and development through care and training.

Reuters .T. (2011, p.1) reports that; “Discrimination is to distinguish, single out, or make a distinction in everyday life, when faced with more than one option.” For the purpose of this research, the definition of women in chambers 21st century dictionary (2004, p.1631) will be used “women generally: the female sex.” Wikipedia (2010) assert that; “discrimination against women is the attitude and beliefs in relation to the female gender that they are less important, such beliefs and attitudes are of social nature and do not normally carry any legal consequences.”

With these definitions, we can therefore define culture and discrimination against women as the cultural practices against the female folks that support men. Discrimination against women has become customs passed from generations to generations. In African, many cultural practices are against women. Women are beaten by husbands and are always blamed for not been able to produce children. Even when it is not confirmed that they are responsible for the marital problems, they suffer for those problems. Married woman could be replaced at anytime by their husbands because culture supports that men could marry many women.

Female children are not always given the best upbringing; they are trained in the kitchen, instead of school. Male children are brought up well because they are known to be the people who will take their family from generations to generation. Therefore, with the use of Buchi Emecheta’s work, The Joys of Motherhood, many discriminatory acts against woman will be analyzed; to signify the cultural practices discriminating against women. Also, through the works of Chimamanda Adichie; Purple Hibiscus, discrimination against women will be identified. Cultural practices discriminating against women have been on for long and needs to stop.


The study intends to examine culture and discrimination against women, using two carefully selected novels as primary data, Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. Using radical Feminism to show that women should be treated equally as men and that gender differences is no excuse for discrimination. This research work aim at bringing out how cultural practices affect women, the pain it brings and the survival of women.


Researchers over the year have worked on how to stop gender inequality, especially discrimination against women. However it is important we know that some cultural practices affect women.

This study is therefore embarked on to discuss the aspects of culture discriminating against women. Two aspects will be studied in this research the cultural aspect representing the old using The Joys of Motherhood and the religion aspect representing the modern period using Purple Hibiscus.

It is hoped that the proper analysis of this work will ginger writers to the awareness that much needs to be done on gender inequality in the society. This work will also contribute to the body of knowledge, and the society in general especially to the feminist and female folks.


The researcher finds it difficult to bring out so many cultural practices discriminating against women, as a result of limited time coupled with financial constrain available for the study.

As such this work will analyse culture and discrimination against women only in two selected novels. The research will also limit its scope on some materials from the library, internet and the two selected novels: Buchi Emecheta and Chimamanda The Joys of Motherhood and Purple Hibiscus respectively.


Women have for long been discriminated against, oppressed and not given equal rights in life and in literary works, also we cannot but obey the customs and traditions of our land, however some cultural practices affect women.

Thus, this study will investigate how some cultural practices discriminate against women, what women go through because of traditional beliefs and their survival.


This research work intends to carry out an investigation on culture and discrimination against women, through the proper analysis of the two carefully selected novels Buchi Emecheta and Chimamande Adichie: The Joys of Motherhood and Purple Hibiscus respectively. In analyzing these books radical feminism will be used. Sotunsa (2008, p.11) reports that:

Radical Feminism argues that, women’s oppression storms from being categorized as inferior to men on the basis of gender. Therefore radical Feminism aim to destroy the sex classed system.

The researcher uses radical Feminism to challenge male control. This work will present radical female protagonists, desperate to achieve their aim, not minding the consequences of their action. Through the female characters in the two selected novels, proper analysis of how cultural practices discriminate against women will be identified.

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