The Theme of Disappointment in the Novels of Buchi Emecheta’s the Joys of Motherhood and Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus

The Theme of Disappointment in the Novels of Buchi Emecheta’s the Joys of Motherhood and Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus
The Theme of Disappointment in the Novels of Buchi Emecheta’s the Joys of Motherhood and Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus

ABSTRACT: This study examines The Theme of Disappointment in the Novels of Buchi Emecheta’s the Joys of Motherhood and Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. With response to psychological pain and agony in the characters under investigation, the study portrays that disappointment, suffering and the emotional trauma caused by a situation which is appraised as an absence of a positive outcome. Emotional disappointment captures two different emotional experiences Outcome-Related Disappointment and Person-Related Disappointment while Outcome-Related Disappointment has implications in a more individual context such as motivational, decision making and achievement. Person-Related Disappointment has implications in a more social context. These experiences occur in different situations that are phenomenological different and have different behavioural consequences as exhibited by the characters concerned.

Disappointment could be seen as not getting what one wants or getting what one does not want and it could be also absence of a positive outcome or the presence of a negative outcome. This study is to throw more light on the questions of whether disappointment can occur without expectation or more precisely whether expectation is indeed a prerequisite for the use of the term disappointment. The above mentioned perspectives are what this research analyses as they relate to characters in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibsicus, and Naguib Mahfouz Midaq Alley .To achieve this objective, this work is organized in five chapters. Chapter one is the introduction which explores the meaning and origin of disappointment. Chapter two is on Representation of Disappointment in The Joys of Motherhood, Purple Hibiscus.


The Theme of Disappointment in the Novels of Buchi Emecheta’s the Joys of Motherhood and Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus



1.1   Background to the study 

Disappointment is traced to the Middle English by way of the old French word disappointer. Literally, disappointment is to remove one from office. It is the result of expectations that was unfulfilled and was initially desired or hoped for; when performance falls short of expectation we have disappointment. It is also an emotional and psychological experience and can have the same emotional effects with such powerful emotions such as love, hate, fear, sadness, grief, anger and jealousy. On this notion, Lawson opines that disappointment presupposes some expectations and he notes “responses to experiences of disappointment will vary according to the social context in which the person finds himself or herself and to the level of expectation” (85).

This consequently forms the research topic on the theme of disappointment in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. For instance, one of the major disappointments women face in the society as portrayed by Buchi Emecheta  and Adichie are seen especially not able to produce a male child… the punishment is to drive out such a woman or replace her with another woman… and such a woman is seen as incomplete in other words, barreled.  From the study, we have been exposed not only to the various definitions made by scholars but also able to distinguish between disappointment and related negative emotions like regret, sadness, anger. Emecheta portrays this instances in The Joys of Motherhood were one of her female characters, Adaku, Nnaife’s wife who was unable to produce a male child for her husband. According to the author, one of the Chiefs said to Nnu-Ego Nnaife’s wife thus:

You are the mother of the male children that make him a man. If Adaku dies today, her peoples not her husband’s people will come for her body. It is not so will you (159).

The above statement proved that a woman passes through various disappointments especially when it comes to child bearing as seen in the statement above.

On the other hand, for a long time now, women have been labeled mothers, child bearers, wives and home keepers, with the kitchen as their office and everything weak has been ascribed to the female. This statement makes female writer like Ruth Sheila in her essay entitled Issues in Feminism to say thus:

No real man may tolerate within himself at least the tender qualities he must deny himself any tendency towards them, any personal experience of them. Instead, these traits must be projected outward. The compliment of his masculine character is settled on his sexual complement, woman… I am man; she is woman. I am tough; she is tender. I am self-sufficient; she is needful (45).

Women, therefore, serve in patriarchy as a negative image of men. They go through various humiliation, oppression, victimization, frustration and disappointment by their male counterparts. For instance, Emecheta displays some women in her novel, The Joys of Motherhood, as those who are able to pass through difficulties at the same time those survive those difficulties.

On the other hand, Adichie in Purple Hibiscus portrays how women pass through humiliation, discrimination and emotional trauma. She demonstrates this instance through the character of Eugene who uses his religious beliefs to ensure his family. No doubt, in African society, especially Nigeria, male children are preferred to female ones. Parents discriminates against the female children… these children are not treated equally and not allowed the same human rights in the home. All these instances from the research work under investigation.

According to Debbie, Neill, “Igbo society upholds the nation of manliness as fundamental social norm. Violence against women is justified, African women languished on the fringe of their Universe neglected, exploited, degenerated, and indeed made to feel like outsider” (26).

The above statement has shown that males are valued as the stronger and great achievers in contrast to the females are who are regarded as weak vessels.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

Buch Emecheta and Ngozi Adichie through their novels under investigation condemned the African culture that gives impetus to men and preaches the quality of both sexes.

In some African societies, women are not expected to be seen at the village square and argued with the men.

In the same vein, if a husband dies and the women is still young, her husband’s brother can inherit the woman whether or not she likes it. But, when a woman, dies the husband can marry as many wives as he wants. All these issues form the research problem with reference to the research topic.


1.3   Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this research work is to examine the theme of disappointment in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.

1.4   Significance of the Study

The research work will be of significance to other researchers who would find this work important. The study will also be of great significant to the entire African society how African cultural practices affect the female emotionally and psychologically. The study will also be of immense significance to students of English and Literature about the important of studying Literature.

1.5   Objectives of the Study

                The study examines the following objectives;

i       to portrays the theme of disappointment in the novels under investigation.

ii       to examine the causes and consequences faced by the characters in the two novels under investigation

iii      to profound solutions to some cultural practices in African society.

1.6   Research Methodology

The primary method will focus on Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Chimamanda Achie’s Purple Hibiscus. The secondary method of the research work will be on internet, journals, library and other literature novels for more information on the research work.

1.7   Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of this research work will be limited to Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.

1.8   Definition of Terms

Theme: It is a central idea a novel talks about.

Disappointment: It is an emotional feeling that one is being received unexpectedly

The Theme of Disappointment in the Novels of Buchi Emecheta’s the Joys of Motherhood and Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus

1.9   Bio-Data of Buchi Emecheta

Buchi Emecheta was born on August 14, 1944 in Lagos, Nigeria. She was born of the Ibuza’s heritage. She is a Nigerian writer with a B.SC degree, she attended Methodist Girls High School, Yaba, Lagos in Nigeria and University of London: U.K. from 1980-1981she was senior resident fellow and visiting professor of the department of English and literary studies, University of Calabar, Nigeria in 1980.

Florence Onyebuchi Emecheta popularly known as Buchi Emecheta was a member of Art council of Great Britain, member of Advisory council, home secretary on race and Equity, London, U.K. her awards include Best Black writer in Britain, Jock Campbell award from the new statesman in 1978. For her novel the slave girl, daughter of mark twain, an American literature award.

Buchi Emecheta has many publications to her credit, they include the following: in the ditch, published in (1972), Second Class citizen (1974). The Bride Price (1976), The Slave Girl (1977), winner of 1978 Jock Campbell Award, The Joys of Motherhood (1979), The moonlight Bride (1981) Our Own Freedom (1981), Destination Biafra (1982). Her autobiography include: Head Above Water (1984), Children/young adults books by Buchi Emecheta are: Titch the cat (1979), Nowhere to Play (1980), The wrestling Match (1981) and many others. She is a mother of five children.

1.10 Bio-Data of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born on 15 of September, 1977 in Enugu State, Nigeria. She is the fifth of six children born to Igbo parent while the family’s ancestral hometown is Abba in Anambra State, Nigeria. She grew up in Nsukka in a house formerly occupied by a Nigerian writer Late Chinua Achebe.  Chimamanda father, who is now retired but worked at the University of Nigeria, located in Nsukka. He was the first professor of statistics and later became Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University. Her mother is the first female registrar at the same institution.

Chimamanda completed her secondary education at the University school, Nsukka receiving several academic prizes. She went for medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria but dropped out after only one half year. During this period, she edited the compass, a magazine run by the University’s catholic Medical; Students. At the age of nineteen, Chimamanda left for United State of America. She gained a scholarship to study communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia for two years and went on to pursue a degree in communication and political science of Eastern Connecticut State University.

Chimamanda graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2001, and then completed master’s degree in Creative at John Hopkins University, Baltimore. It is during her senior year at Earthen Connecticut State University that she started working on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which was released in October, 2005. The book has received wide critical Acadian it. It was short listed for the orange fiction prize 2004 and has awarded the Common Wealth Writers Prize for best first book 2005.

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, also the title of one of her short stories is set before and during the Biafra War. It was published in August, 2006 in the United States. Purple Hibiscus was released in Nigeria. Chimamanda was a holder follow at Princeton University during the 2005-2006 academic years, and earned an M.A. in African studies from Yale University in 2008. Her collection of short stories, The Things around your Neck, was published in 2009. She was prized like the Orange. Henry prize stories collection in 2003, caine prize 2002 for African writing, the orange prize for fiction in the United Kingdom. Her work has been selected by the Common Wealth Broadcasting Association and BBC short story Awards.

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