Notions of Alienation and Motherhood in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood
Olumide Ogunrotimi and Omolara Kikelomo Owoeye
Abstract: Motherhood as an institution peculiar to women has always been reflected in diverse forms in Nigerian fiction. Whereas many authors venerate motherhood as the peak of feminine and familial achievements, some, like Buchi Emecheta, vilify it for the attendant ills experienced by women who are enmeshed in it. This paper examines Buchi Emecheta’s deconstruction of motherhood in The Joys of Motherhood with a focus on the possibility of motherhood leading ultimately to alienation. Using the theory of womanism, an African variant of feminism which exults the peculiarities of African women and their circumstances, the paper analyzes how the author frames the experience of the protagonist as a mother to interrogate how socio-cultural dynamics impact gender constructs and the larger contexts of gendered spaces. In studying the author’s textual construction of motherhood, the study discovers that the author employs specific characters as metaphorical indexicalities to denounce patriarchal and traditional feminists’ penchant for extolling and venerating motherhood at the expense of women’s search for self-realization with individual objectives that do not involve putting their womanhood in the service of society as subservient mothers with depersonalized psyches. The study concludes that the title is the author’s ironical way of positing that being a mother is not all-fulfilling, because, as textualized in the novel, motherhood can become an avenue for women’s societal oppression, exploitation, and alienation.
Keywords: Alienation, Womanhood, Feminism, Motherhood, Female Cooperativeness
View Full Text
Published in August 2019