Marriage, Men, and Women's Lives

George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University

Does the picture of women's lives and the ideologies of gender that surround them here seem closer to those depicted in Emecheta or Okoye's "The Pay Packet"?

Her mother knew that one day, her only daughter would marry. Or perhaps she would not. But surely she would find a man who would take care of her. For that was the ultimate aim of a Dukana woman. To be the only wife of a poor man. Or one of the many wives of a rich man. A rich man being he who owned many pieces of farmland, a few more goats than usual, a mud house covered with corrugated iron sheets instead of thatch, and maybe a tidy, neat, little sum of money in coins and paper tied in a rag and hidden in the earth beneath his bed. The favour of such a one, would go a long way to satisfy the upbringing of a girl, any girl . . . So every mother had told her daughter. So all daughters believed. They in turn, would have to tell their daughters who would have to believe. Of course a girl could remain unmarried. If she was her father's first daughter and he was rich enough to allow her to remain in the family, breeding children who would answer her father's name and have equal rights with the children of their grandfather. ["The Divorcee," A Forest of Flowers, 49]

What does Saro-Wiwa imply about the relative importance to Nigerian society of marriage versus child-bearing? Do the characters in his world see them as necessarily connected? In what other stories by him does this issue arise?

Postcolonial Web Africa OV Nigeria OV Saro Wiwa OV