The Marxist Formula in Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood Essay

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The Marxist Formula in Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood

"Marx states that we are truly free only when '[people] place themselves in a position to control their own historical destiny'"(Slaughter 25).

Britain's imperial colonization of Africa triggered vast change within the tribal civilizations thriving on the continent prior to European occupation. For the Africans, these changes altered every level of their culture: language, religion, as well as ancient tribal customs. But one of the most devastating aspects of the British colonization in Africa was the European economic system: capitalism. Capitalism left many Africans reeling from its destructive impact on tribal economies. Nowhere is this more evident than in The Joys of
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Emecheta criticizes European colonialism using three approaches: (1) capitalism's separation of worker and her/his product, (2) capitalism's use of organized religion to reinforce the dominant economic paradigm, and (3) Britain's conscription of Africans into military service for the colonial state during the Second World War. Emecheta reveals the exploitative and destructive power of capitalism by creating characters who sacrifice their identities and their culture to survive under a colonial system; and the only way to survive within the imperialistic structure is to excel within the capitalist organization. To accurately examine the oppressed nature of the female characters in The Joys of Motherhood, however, we must first briefly examine their tribal culture. It is also necessary to define Ibo culture in economic terms so that we have a benchmark against which to compare changes that occur within the characters as they move into the capitalist system.

The Ibo tribal system that forms and influences the characters in The Joys of Motherhood is by no means free from the authorís criticism. The traditional tribal structure from which Nnu Ego and the other characters emerge is a rigid hierarchical, patriarchal culture; and Emecheta clearly sees the hypocrisy in criticizing the British paradigm without first

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