(1) Second-Class Citizen is one the most remarkable novels Buchi Emecheta ever wrote.
(2) It’s one of the two African Prose recommended for Literature-in-English exams in SSCE and JAMB for the 2021 – 2025 Syllabus.
(3) Second-Class Citizen is a bildungsroman.
The novel’s narrator starts the narration by describing Adah’s childhood. He then follows Adah through her life, from childhood to motherhood. As the novel progresses, we see Adah’s growth as a person, including her changing perspective on love, marriage, and responsibilities.
Another example of Bildungsroman is Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield, Chinelo Okparanta’s Under The Udala Trees, and many others.
(4) Setting Nigeria and England. The setting for the first few chapters is Nigeria. When Adah is joined by Francis in England, the setting shifts from Nigeria to England.
(5) Language This language is easy to understand.
(6) Chapters The novel can be divided into thirteen chapters.
(7) First Class Citizen could be classified as an autobiographical novel. In a way, it relates the experiences of its writer, but in fiction.
Other works in this category include Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Child and Camara Laye’s African Child.
(8) Principal Character: Adah.
Other notable characters include Francis, Boy, and Pa Noble.
(9) Narrative Technique: Third-person narrative technique.
(10) Second Class Citizen, like most of Buchi’s works, addresses gender and, in this case, racial prejudice.
Buchi Emecheta also created Kehinde’s The Slave Girl, The Bridal Price, and Motherhood’s Joys.
The Title: Explained
In the text, two folds express the title and concept of “Second-Class Citizen.”
The First Fold concerns the place of women in African society. In this instance, men are superior to women.
Buchi uses Adah to illustrate the archetype African woman and demonstrates the second fiddle that patriarchal African societies have assigned women.
They have not considered it equals to their male counterparts. They are not believed to have aspirations and dreams by society.
Adah has always dreamed of going to England and getting an education. Society believes otherwise. To go to school takes some stubbornness.
She was able to continue her education even after her father died. This is not because of her stubbornness, refusal of male advances, and scholarship. It’s also because her family realizes that she will be more expensive if she has an education. Instead, her relatives focus on Boy’s education.
In the family system, husbands tend to be higher than their wives in rank. This explains why Francis doesn’t like Adah’s job in England because it is more prestigious and high-status than his factory work. Adah is always considered superior to Francis, which should be contrary to the “normal” way.
In the novel, women are first-class citizens of the second class.
The second fold is made up of black citizens living in England, which is a country run by white men. The whites discriminate against blacks based on their skin color. The blacks are inferior, while the whites are superior.
Adah, Francis, and Pa Noble are all second-class citizens. It’s not surprising that Adah is included in these two categories.
Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen theme includes the following:
(1) Theme for racial discrimination (2) Theme for gender discrimination
(3) Theme for irresponsible husbandhood
(4) Early marriage theme
(5) This is the theme of determination
(6) Theme for patriarchy
(7) Hope theme
(8) Woman’s emancipation
(9) Theme for failure