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Themes

Nnu Ego's world is inhabited by various spirits: her ancestors, her chi, or personal god (as well as everybody else's chi), and God. She often offers up prayers to any of the three different entities. These deities are not universally benevolent, or even benign. They can take malicious pleasure in tormenting individuals. Nnu Ego is one of those people whose chi wants to torment her. The Joys of Motherhood makes it clear that Nnu Ego is tormented by her chi in that she is given one child after another. Nnu Ego eventually realizes that her children have become a stone around her neck. We can assume that she wishes she had never had children because when she becomes an ancestor herself, after her death, she refuses to answer people's prayers for children.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. What is the role of a chi? How does a chi affect a person's life?
  2. Who is God? What role does God play in this novel?
  3. What is the role of the ancestors?
  4. What is Nnu Ego's role as an ancestor?
  5. How does Christianity intersect with the characters in this novel? Is Christianity a significant force? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although Nnu Ego's chi gives her what she wants (children), the fulfillment of Nnu Ego's desires turns out to be a double-edged sword.

Even though Nnu Ego's life appears to have been blessed with an abundance of children, it turns out that the traditional blessing of having many children is actually a curse.

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