2023 NABTEB GCE LITERATURE ANSWERS
INSTRUCTIONS: ANSWER ONE(1) QUESTION FROM EACH PART
PART I; ANSWER ONE(1) QUESTION FROM THIS PART
In Buchi Emecheta’s novel “Second-Class Citizen,” the characters of Francis and Adah play significant roles in depicting the challenges and struggles faced by Nigerian immigrants in the United Kingdom and the gender dynamics within a patriarchal society. This critical examination will explore the roles of both characters in the novel.
Francis, the protagonist’s husband, represents the traditional patriarchal Nigerian society. He embodies the expectations placed upon men, with an emphasis on their authority and power within marriage. Francis dominates Adah, his wife, demanding she conform to his desires, stifling her ambitions and dreams. His dismissive attitude toward Adah’s aspirations highlights the gender inequality prevalent in the society they come from.
Furthermore, Francis serves as a vehicle to illustrate the challenges faced by Nigerian immigrants in the United Kingdom. Despite being a highly educated and intellectually capable individual, he struggles to find suitable employment due to racial discrimination. Francis’s experiences shed light on the racism and classism that many immigrants face, as they are often relegated to low-paying jobs or limited opportunities for upward mobility.
On the other hand, Adah’s character portrays a woman who challenges societal expectations and strives for independence and self-fulfillment. As a young woman, Adah yearns for an education, which is met with opposition from her father due to societal beliefs that prioritize male education. Despite these obstacles, Adah manages to navigate the system, securing an education and later venturing into business.
Adah’s determination and resilience are recurrent themes throughout the novel, as she faces multiple hardships in the pursuit of her dreams. She encounters racial prejudice, financial struggles, and even domestic violence from Francis. As a second-class citizen both in her native country and in her adopted home, Adah battles against societal constraints and limitations.
Moreover, Adah and Francis’s complex relationship highlights the power dynamics within a patriarchal society. Adah’s ambitions are consistently undermined and devalued by Francis, who expects her to prioritize his needs above her own. Through Adah’s perspective, the reader gains insight into the emotional toll that such a relationship takes on a person, particularly a woman trying to assert her individuality.
Overall, Francis and Adah play significant roles in Emecheta’s “Second-Class Citizen,” representing the struggles and challenges faced by Nigerian immigrants and exploring gender dynamics within a patriarchal society. By examining the characters’ roles and relationships, the novel sheds light on themes of gender inequality, racism, and the pursuit of personal freedom.
One of the major contrasts in the novel is the difference in social status and opportunities between Nigeria and England. In Nigeria, Adah comes from a relatively well-off family, but as a woman, she faces limitations in terms of education and career opportunities. The patriarchal society restricts her aspirations and reinforces gender roles, relegating her to a second-class citizen status.
In contrast, England offers Adah the prospect of more freedom and better opportunities. She hopes that by moving to a Western country, she can escape the societal constraints that limit her ambitions. However, upon her arrival in England, Adah finds that she faces a different set of challenges. She experiences racism, as her blackness makes her a target for discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping.
Furthermore, the economic opportunities in England are not as promising as she imagined. Adah and Francis struggle to make ends meet, facing financial hardship and relying on welfare. Adah must take on menial jobs and endure demeaning work conditions, which starkly contrasts with her previous social status in Nigeria.
Another significant contrast lies in the cultural differences between Nigeria and England. Adah feels a sense of displacement and struggles to adapt to the new environment. She is confronted with the clash of traditional Nigerian values and the more liberal attitudes in England. This clash is further magnified by Adah’s determination to pursue her education and become independent, which is seen as unconventional and subversive according to Nigerian societal norms.
Additionally, the contrast extends to the treatment of women. In Nigeria, Adah faces a patriarchal society that expects women to be submissive and supportive of their husbands. However, in England, she observes a different societal attitude towards women. Adah encounters strong, independent women who challenge traditional gender norms and ideologies, encouraging her to assert her own agency and challenge her husband’s oppressive behavior.
(i) Colonial Legacy: Both Nigeria and Ghana were colonized by the British Empire, and this shared colonial history has had a pervasive influence on their socio-cultural identities. This is evident in the English language being widely spoken in both countries, as well as the presence of similar administrative and legal systems.
(ii) Cultural Diversity: Both Nigeria and Ghana are characterized by rich cultural diversity. They are home to numerous ethnic groups, each with its own language, traditions, and customs. The novel portrays this diversity through its characters, highlighting the importance of cultural identity and heritage.
(iii) Family Values: Family plays a vital role in the socio-cultural fabric of both Nigeria and Ghana. The novel explores the traditional values and dynamics within families, emphasizing themes of love, respect, and the importance of communal support.
(iv) Gender Roles: Another similarity depicted in the novel is the presence of traditional gender roles and expectations in both countries. There is a focus on the role of women as caregivers and homemakers, while men are often portrayed as the breadwinners and heads of households. However, the novel also challenges these gender norms by exploring the empowerment of women in various contexts.
(v) Religion and Spirituality: Nigeria and Ghana are predominantly religious countries, with a wide range of religious beliefs and practices. In the novel, the author touches on the influence of Christianity, Islam, and traditional African spirituality on the lives of the characters, showcasing the significance of faith in both societies.
(vi) Socio-economic Challenges: The novel addresses various socio-economic challenges faced by individuals in Nigeria and Ghana. Issues such as poverty, corruption, access to education, and healthcare are explored, illustrating the shared struggles that exist across the two countries.
One of the primary lenses through which discrimination is examined in the novel is race. The story takes place in the fictional Ghanaian town of Elderville, where the protagonist, Joy Ayivor, a young Ghanaian woman, falls in love with a Nigerian man named Chika. Their relationship faces severe opposition from their families and communities due to historical tensions between Ghanaians and Nigerians. This portrayal exposes the ugly face of racial discrimination and the damaging consequences it can have on personal relationships.
Additionally, ethnic discrimination is explored within the context of Ghanaian society. The novel illustrates the internal divisions and prejudices that exist among different ethnic groups within the country. For instance, Joy comes from the Ewe ethnic group, while Chika is Igbo. Their relationship is further complicated by the deep-seated biases that exist between these two groups. By highlighting these divisions, Agyiri invites readers to question the root causes of ethnic discrimination and its long-term impact on national unity.
Gender discrimination is another significant theme in Unexpected Joy at Dawn. Joy experiences sexism both within her relationship with Chika and within her community. Despite her ambition and desire for an independent life, Joy finds herself constrained by societal expectations and traditional gender roles. Agyiri explores the challenges faced by women in patriarchal societies, shedding light on the ways in which discrimination limits women’s agency and opportunities.
Through these various forms of discrimination, Unexpected Joy at Dawn emphasizes the need for tolerance, understanding, and empathy. It challenges readers to confront their own biases and preconceived notions, urging them to recognize the destructive consequences of discrimination.
In conclusion, Alex Agyiri’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn delves into the theme of discrimination through its exploration of racial, ethnic, and gender-based prejudice. The novel exposes the damaging impact of discrimination on personal relationships and society at large. By raising awareness of these issues, Agyiri invites readers to advocate for a more inclusive and equitable world, free from discrimination.
PART II; ANSWER ONE(1) QUESTION FROM THIS PART
One aspect of Nelly Dean’s character that warrants examination is her reliability as a narrator. While Nelly is presented as an eyewitness to the story, it becomes evident that her narration is affected by her biases and subjective interpretations. She often interjects her opinions and judgments, which can color the readers’ perception of the events and characters. For example, her strong disapproval of Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship influences her portrayal of them, leading to a biased and negative depiction. This raises questions about the accuracy and objectivity of Nelly’s account, making it important for readers to critically evaluate her role as a narrator.
Nelly Dean’s influence on the characters and their actions is another aspect that needs evaluation. Her role as the mediator between the different generations and households allows her to exert control and manipulate the outcome of certain events. For example, she withholds information regarding Catherine’s illness from Heathcliff, which leads to significant consequences. Furthermore, her decision to raise Hareton Earnshaw without proper education and exposure to the world contributes to his later difficulties in social interactions. These instances suggest that Nelly’s actions and decisions bear an impact on the development of the plot and the characters’ fates.
However, Nelly Dean’s character can also be seen as a passive observer who facilitates the story without actively participating in it. Although she is present throughout the events of the novel, her personal growth or inner conflicts remain relatively unexplored. This lack of character development can make Nelly seem somewhat one-dimensional and less engaging compared to the more complex and dynamic characters like Heathcliff and Catherine. It is arguable that Nelly’s character serves primarily as a device to narrate the story rather than as a fully realized character with her own arc and development.
In conclusion, Nelly Dean’s character in Wuthering Heights plays a significant role in shaping the narrative and influencing the actions of the other characters. However, critical examination reveals that her reliability as a narrator can be questionable, and her actions and decisions have consequences that impact the plot and the development of other characters. While she serves as a central observer and mediator, her character lacks substantial growth and agency. These considerations highlight the multi-dimensional nature of Nelly Dean’s character and her contributions to the overall framework of the novel.
One significant aspect of love depicted in the novel is the intense and destructive love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. Their love is deep-rooted from childhood, but it is also entangled with jealousy, revenge, and power struggles. Their love is characterized by its passionate and all-consuming nature, but it is ultimately destructive, causing pain and suffering for themselves as well as those around them. Their love symbolizes the destructive power of unrestrained passion and shows the limits of conventional societal expectations.
Another form of love explored in the novel is the contrasting love between Catherine Earnshaw and Edgar Linton. Catherine, torn between her love for Heathcliff and her desire for social status, chooses to marry Edgar for his wealth and social standing. This love is portrayed as superficial and based on societal expectations rather than genuine emotions. It highlights the theme of love as a transactional and manipulative force in society.
Bronte also introduces a more selfless and compassionate form of love through the character of Nelly Dean. Nelly’s love for the characters in the novel goes beyond romantic or familial bonds. She exhibits a nurturing and caring love that is supportive and understanding, serving as a moral compass for the characters. Nelly’s love represents the healing and redemptive power of love, contrasting the destructive nature of other relationships in the novel.
Ultimately, the theme of love in “Wuthering Heights” challenges conventional romantic ideals and presents a more complex and nuanced understanding of love. It explores the various forms of love and their consequences, questioning societal expectations and uncovering the darker aspects of human nature. Bronte’s exploration of love in the novel sheds light on the complexities and contradictions of human emotions, revealing that love can be both a source of pain and happiness.
One of the central societal ills explored in “Invisible Man” is racial discrimination. The protagonist faces overt racism in his encounters with white individuals, such as the battle royal scene where he is forced to fight other Black men for the entertainment of white audiences. This scene serves as a metaphor for the dehumanization and exploitation of Black people in a society that perpetuates racial hierarchies.
Moreover, Ellison delves into the subtler forms of racism and systemic oppression that contribute to the protagonist’s invisibility. The character experiences the mask of respectability often demanded of Black individuals, forcing him to conform to white expectations and suppress his individuality and cultural identity. This pressure to assimilate and fit into white-dominated spaces perpetuates the erasure of his true self and reinforces the societal ills of discrimination and inequality.
Another societal ill examined in the novel is the corruption of power, particularly within politics and social movements. The protagonist becomes entangled with a Brotherhood-like organization, which claims to fight for the rights of the oppressed but exploits the Black community for political gains. Ellison critically portrays the ways in which power can be manipulated and used to maintain societal hierarchies, perpetuating systemic oppression instead of dismantling it.
Ellison also focuses on the destructive effects of capitalism and materialism. The protagonist’s journey takes him through various socio-economic strata, highlighting the ways in which individuals are valued solely based on their economic worth. They are reduced to their ability to contribute to the capitalist system, reinforcing another societal ill that dehumanizes individuals and places material wealth above human dignity and equality.
In conclusion, Ellison’s primary focus in “Invisible Man” is undoubtedly the exploration of societal ills. By examining racial discrimination, the corrupting influence of power, the destructive effects of capitalism, and other social injustices, he sheds light on the larger structural problems that plague American society. Through the experiences of the protagonist, Ellison challenges readers to confront these issues and strive for a more equitable and inclusive future.
One prominent symbol in the novel is the “battle royal,” which serves as a metaphor for the struggle faced by the African American community. The battle royal is a brutal and degrading event in which young Black men are forced to fight one another in a ring, blindfolded. It symbolizes the relentless competition and dehumanization that the protagonist and other Black individuals experience in a racially oppressive society. The battle royal also represents the internal conflict within the protagonist as he grapples with his identity and the expectations imposed upon him.
Another literary device utilized in Invisible Man is irony. Ellison employs situational irony to challenge societal norms and expose the contradictions between appearance and reality. The protagonist frequently finds himself in situations where expectations and outcomes do not align, highlighting the absurdity and hypocrisy of racial stereotypes and cultural norms. For instance, the Invisible Man is invited to give his graduation speech at a prestigious white college, but he is forced to make his speech on the theme of humility and submission, which contrasts with his actual feelings of anger and defiance. This irony underscores the protagonist’s invisibility in society, as he is forced to conceal his true identity and navigate a world that does not see him for who he truly is.
Overall, symbolism and irony are two prominent literary devices employed by Ralph Ellison in Invisible Man. Through these devices, Ellison effectively explores the complexities of race, identity, and power dynamics in American society.