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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Women and Femininity

We learn very quickly in The Joys of Motherhood that a woman's role in traditional Ibo society is to produce children, and in particular, to produce male children. Her value as a woman is dependent...

Men and Masculinity

Manhood in traditional Ibo society is a privileged position. As a man, you have the right to several wives and you own your wives' labor, through which you may enrich yourself. But at the same time...

Mortality

Death is common in Nnu Ego's world. Having children is a way of ensuring your immortality, in the sense that they will continue your gene pool. Children are also expected take care of you in your o...

Wealth

Nnu Ego, the protagonist of The Joys of Motherhood, comes from a wealthy family, and her first marriage is into another wealthy family. Even wealthy women must work, though, so she still does farm...

Duty

Each person in The Joys of Motherhood has a social role with specific obligations. As a wife, Nnu Ego is obligated to provide for her husband and for children (most importantly for her boys). As se...

Education

Nnu Ego, the protagonist of The Joys of Motherhood puts her hope in her children's education, and specifically in Oshia's education. She believes that once he's educated, he'll get a good job, and...

Tradition and Customs

Nnu Ego, the protagonist of The Joys of Motherhood desperately wants to follow a traditional life. Not only does she want to be seen as a good woman, in the traditional sense, but she wants to reap...

Slavery

We first see slavery in The Joys of Motherhood when the senior wife of Nnu Ego's father dies, and her slave woman is buried alive with her despite the slave's protests that she wants to live. Nnu E...

Race

The biggest conflict over race in The Joys of Motherhood is the fact that Ibo men feel emasculated by working for white colonial officials. Nnu Ego is barely able to look at her husband Nnaife when...

The Supernatural

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 entiti...
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