Study Guide

Adaku in The Joys of Motherhood

By Buchi Emecheta

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Adaku's name means "daughter of wealth" and it's an appropriate title for her. Confident and assertive, Adaku travels to Lagos to assert her right as Nnaife's newly acquired wife. (Adaku was the youngest wife of Nnaife's older brother. When the brother dies at a young age, Nnaife must take responsibility for his brother's wives, according to custom.)

Disappointed by what she finds in Lagos, and recognizing that her position as junior wife will always mean she's a second-class citizen, Adaku ultimately leaves the marriage to become an independent woman – a trader and a prostitute. She earns enough from her trading activities that she doesn't need to be dependent on men at all, and can enjoy their companionship from a place of equality.

Adaku has a great deal of foresight, and she reads the future accurately. As a result, she educates her daughters, believing that the time will come when an educated woman will be able to earn money in the same way a man. She provides a great contrast to Nnu Ego, who is never able to leave her traditional values behind. As a result, Nnu Ego struggles with poverty all her life, her husband Nnaife eating up whatever profits she gains, while Adaku enjoys her independently-gained wealth.

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