The beginning of the novel characterized Bolanle’s most significant flaw as the fact that she is “a graduate.” It casts her out as an outsider within Baba Segi’s household and it complicates the handling of the fertility issue, since she refused to visit a traditional village doctor. Throughout the course of the novel, Bolanle’s mother also problematizes her education as the reason why she should not be married to a man with four other wives. However, the end of the novel sought a reconciliation of Bolanle’s education as a part of her identity and destined life course.

On the other hand, the other three wives are deemed “inmates.” Bolanle’s final words regarding Iya Segi, Iya Femi, and Iya Tope are, “What really separates us is that I have rejoined my life’s path; they are going nowhere” (280). The implication of this sentence is that the destined life course for the other women, and maybe in turn all people, is an enlightened life of education and respect. Shoneyin takes a strong stance against the traditional marriage practice of polygamy through the conclusion of this novel. The other three wives are hindered by their lack of education, which results in a lack of opportunities, creating the need to be sheltered under the patriarchy of Baba Segi.

Although this is a problematic stance to take, because it clearly dictates what is a good lifestyle and what is not, I believe the novel poignantly discusses issues within polygamous relationships. Furthermore, the shift from problematizing Bolanle’s education, to taking issue with the other wives’ lack of education establishes education as a source of empowerment for women. Bolanle is able to rise above a situation in which her voice was not heard because she was empowered enough to do so.


About annasebastian

I'm a Latin American Studies/International Studies major, with a minor in Literature.

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