ENEMIES OF THEIR OWN: FEMALE CHARACTERS IN NAWAL EL SAADAWI’S WOMAN AT POINT ZERO AND REBEKA NJAU’S RIPPLES IN THE POOL

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ABSTRACT

Feminism in Africa has occupied a very sensitive position in African literature as feminist writers have contributed to its growth through their writings. However, looking into these different feminists’ writings one can immediately come to terms with the fact that there is serious disharmony amongst the female characters in feminists’ works. In the works under study the female characters are either at constant tussle amongst themselves or are intolerable maniacs to the society. This study however,proposes to look at several issues that plague African feminism and compel us to ask the following perturbing questions: Must a female protagonist show her liberation from extreme patriarchy by ending up a prostitute and a murderer? As in the case of Selina in Rebeka Njau’s Ripples in the Pool and Firdaus in Nawal El Saadawi’s Woman at Point Zero. Why are female characters in feminists’ works against one another? Are they actually ‘enemies’ of their own?’ The above pertinent issues in African feminists’ works agitate the mind of the researcher and therefore form the main thrust of this dissertation. However, the study has shown that most of women’s problems lie within women as we see victims victimizing victims.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
Abstract
Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Introduction
Statement of Problem
Scope of the Study
Significance of Study

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

CHAPTER THREE:  RESEARCH METHODS
3.1 Theoretical Framework
3.2 Research Methodology

CHAPTER FOUR: BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHORS AND CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE TWO FEMALE PROTAGONISTS IN THE SELECTED TEXTS
4.1  Nawal El Saadawi
4.2 Rebeka Njau
4.3 Negative Characteristics of Female Protagonists in El Saadawi’s Woman at Point Zero and Njau’s Ripples in the Pool
4.4 Different Degrees of Hatred Amongst Female Characters in Woman at Point Zero
4.5 Different Degrees of Hatred Amongst Female Characters in Ripples in the Pool

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
5.1 Summary
5.2 Conclusion
Works Cited


CHAPTER ONE

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY


1.1 INTRODUCTION

Feminism is a movement which, among other things, tries to secure recognition for women as equals with men. Since its inception in the 19th century in France, feminism sought for the equality of the sexes by attacking the relegation of women to subordinate status. It is a movement for the social, political and educational emancipation of women. Ever since the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in England, which stressed on “the tyranny of men”, things never quite remained the same for men and women on both political and literary fronts.

According to Charles Nnolim in an “ A House Divided: Feminism in African Literature” in Issues in African Literature, Feminism, as a movement and ideology urges, in simple terms, recognition of the claims of women for equal rights with men--legal, political, economic, social and marital” (185).

Feminists place high premium on freedom and self-determination. These are factors that are common to all feminists which, according to Ruth Sheila,include the fact that “they set a context within which to comprehend the rich variety of feminist thought”. Furthermore, she also observes that “feminists do not accept the cultural images of women as incompetent, petty, irresponsible or weak” (2). She maintains that these characteristics that are attached to women are wrong.

Ngozi Udengwu in an article “The Feminism of Femi Osofisan” in Emerging Perspectives on Femi Osofisan also gives the characteristics of a feminist writer, thus: “a feminist is one who believes that women are wrongly treated, marginalized, and oppressed and is committed to fighting for the emancipation and inclusion of women. A feminist writer opposes aspects of life that suppresses and excludes women” (205).

In our African context, feminism is a call for a revolution in the African society because of the patriarchal tendencies dominant in the continent. However, African feminists do not carry that ideology to the extreme as their western counterparts tend to do; they only demand certain basic rights such as the right to education, the right to choose their marriage partners and also the right to contribute their own quota to the social, economic and political advancement of their communities, instead of the stereotyped roles as good house-wives, house-helps, mothers or even prostitutes.

Most Africans however, see feminism as an imported western concept which the colonial masters brought into the continent. African women do not have to struggle for the right for employment. They are known to trade and to work alongside their husbands. In regards to this, Little Kenneth points out in African Women in Towns that

West African women have little or no interest in women’s rights in an abstract or philosophical sense. The African women already have their own individual ways of handling their husbands (182).

Catherine Acholonu in her book Motherism: The Afrocentric Alternative to Feminism agrees with Little when she says that

Feminist writers and critics picked up the slogan (feminism) and began to paint the picture of the oppressed African woman. A deeper analysis of and insight into the real issues involved and the....

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