Summary and Analysis of The Joy of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta

by Kev


The novel is about the neglection of the girls in Igbo society, which their interest was placed on the male who were seen as the chain that would continue to sustain the link and the name of the family .As a result of this the birth of a female child was not heralded with joy and happiness .In this work Nnuego the Daughter of Ona and his father was Nwokocha Agbadi who gave her out for marriage to her first husband Amatokwe, after the marriage ceremony Nnu Ego followed her husband , months passed Nnu Ego is not yet pregnant his husband people were against her calling her all sort of names because she is not pregnant and their is  no sign of pregnancy which made Nnu Ego’s husband to marry another wife which made Nnu Ego to became a nursing mother to her .

Nnu Ego started taking good care of the baby feeding her but one day she was caught by her husband while she was breast feeding the baby which made the husband to beat her up and his father came for her that was how she left the family of Amatokwu ,.After that another arrangement was made for her to marry another man from the family of Owulum his husband name is Nnaife Owulum  ,who lived in Lagos who work as a washer for the white men ane lived in one room in their house .After the first month Nnu Ego became pregnant for Nnaife, later she gave birth to a body boy  who later died four weeks after his birth but later Nnu Ego became pregnant and gave birth to another child, children came in quick succession and she ended up given birth to eight living children ,after that Nnu Ego was faced with difficulty in training her children who later abandoned her , Nnaife married another nother wife Adaku  who later left him to other men ,but he later married another one Okpo .Nnu Ego in the work later died on the road side, all his children did was no come come and give her a befitting burial.


The story centred on the humiliation faith of Nnu Ego and it explores the neglation of female in Igbo. Nnu Ego the daughter of Ona  Nwokeocha Agadi was a very beautiful young girl with a nice skin who her father arranged a man for her to marry her first husband Amatokwu after the marriage months passed Nnu Ego could not give birth to a child which made the family of Amatokwu  to arrange and to marry another wife their son, Amatokwu  accepted the offer and he married another wife which made Nnu Ego to feel rejected .In the first month of the arrival of the new wife the new wife became pregnant and she gave birth to a baby boy. The boy is always with Nnu Ego , Nnu Ego became a nursing mother to the new born baby and any time the child start crying she will put her breast on the childs mouth and start breast feeding him and this will make the child to stop crying this is because the childs mother is always with the husband Amatokwu at times the child use to sleep with Nnu Ego and  she attempt to knock at their door they will say that she is jealous that was how she started given the child the breast which doesn’t produce any milk .

Later her husband noticed that she is breast feeding the baby, he found her in the act feeding the baby that was why he invited Nnu Ego’s father who demanded that he will go with her daughter and stay with her for a while, that was how Nnu Ego left Amatokwu’s house to her father’s house and immediately she left home she was arranged to marry another man, the family of Owulum. She married Nnaife Owulum that lived in Lagos and was later blessed with children (TEN) but two died and was left with only eight.  She suffered just to make ends meet in her family, she tried to see some of her children through in collage Oshia who later travelled to America and Adim who travelled to Canada. Her husband later married another wife Okpo and Adaku , due to lack of money and care Adaku left the house in search of money while he married Okpo to help Nnu Ego out in her activities .Nnu Ego later died on the road side while thinking of her children who left her after going to collage  .None of them remembered her until she died they all camer back and gave her a befitting burial .


The novel is written during the colonial era and some event took place in a place named like Ibuzo which is the town of Oboli village, Umulso the village of Amatokwu, Ogwashi, Ikoyi, England, India and we have America and Canada where the two sons of Nnu Ego travelled to. Onikeara, Lagos.


The language of the novel is very simple that the novelist made use of everyday language that will enable an average reader to read and understand the story.

Point of view

The narrator used third person omniscient point of view


When Nnu Ego was with Amatokwu she didn’t had any issue with her husband but when she married Nnaife and she became pregnant it is a symbolises fruitfulness it shows that she is fruitful

Tone and mood

The tone of the writer is serious and it has a tone of petty the writer is telling us how femaile were begin neglected by the community. Mood the beginning of the story make one to be very happy while the end after seeing the pains and suffering Nnu Ego went through you will feel sad .

Characters and Characterisation

Nnu Ego

She is the daughter of Agada and her mother Ona who died after given birth to a child who also died .Nnu Ego is the major character in this story who married two husband Amatokwu and Nnaife .She married Amatokwu for months they had no child,which made Amatokwu to marry another wife who got pregnant the first month she came into the house .She gave birth to the child which made Nnu Ego to become a noursing mother she takes good care of the child with care which make her to form the habit to giving the child her breast any tie the child is crying .She was cut by Amatokwu which made her father to ask her husband to allow her to stay with her for some times that made her father to look for another husband for her she lather get married to Nnaife . Amatokwu her first husband who she couldn’t get pregnant for while Nnaife her second husband gave her the children she had been longing for ,she gave birth to ten children but only eight survived ,she tried very hard to train her children to send them n secondary school she tried all hr possible best to see if she will give her children quality education. In the work her two sons travelled to London and Canada which made her not to be happy, she later died on the road side while thinking of her two sons who left her to study outside the country.


Ona in the story is the mother of  Nnu Ego and the deauther of chief Obi Umunna who loved her daughter ona so much that he don’t love seeing her around him all the time . She love her to the extent of taking her to the shrine for her to swear that she will not marry. She is a very beautiful woman with a very strong heart who wants to make her father happy in all she is doing which make her not to marry Nwokeocha Agadi who loves her som uch and was ready to lose all he had for her even to send all her wives out just to stay with her.  She was the one that attended to Nwokocha Agadi wen he was sick at home, with her by his sight he regained his strength.

Nwokeocha Agadi

He is a very hardworking man who loes work and was known for his strength and richness, he is a very wealth local chief who was known as a great wrestler and gifted in oratory his speeches where highly spiced with sharp anecdotes and thoughtful proverbs ,he was taller than most of his mates during their time ,he loved Ona to the extent of losing all he had for her and also giving out his wives just for him to stay with her Ona .But Ona refused not that she don’t love her but because of the promise she made to her father Obi Umunna that she will stay in his house and bear children for him .He is a very rich and well respected man in Ibuzo who later died in the story .


He is the first son of Nnu Ego who abandoned her and went to London to study .He is a very good and intelligent boy in the very who worked very hard to get all he wants .After NnuEgo lost her fist son Ebere Oshia come after him he is a strong and good boy but later in the story left her mother and travelled to London to study without coming back ,he only came back the day he was told that her mother Nnu Ego is dead he came back and gave her a befitting burial which nobody had ever witnessed in Ibuzo for the first time

Nnaife Owulum

In the work he is the second husband of Nnu Ego he is ugly short fat bark and he work as a washman in the white men house he wash their cloths for them .He tried herd just to make ends meet in his family which make him to enter Army just for him and is family to eat and survive he later went to jail for killing someone in the work, but  later realised .He was the one that later gave Nnuego children he married three wives the first Nnu Ego second Adaku who left him for money, the three wife is Okpo who he married to be helping Nnu Ego out in all she is doing .

Themes in the Novel

  • Theme of fruitfulness and blessing
  • Theme of determination to survive
  • Theme of neglect and differences
  • Theme of fulfilment

Theme of fruitfulness and blessing

In the story Nnu Ego who was searching for a child for years later become fruitful she left her first husband Amatokwu because she couldn’t give birth to a child that was why  Amatokwu married another wife who become pregnant the first month she entered the family of Amatokwu God blessed her with a boy . Nnu Ego later married another husband Nnaife of Owulu who made her pregnant she become pregnant four him but only eight survived out of ten .She become fruitful and God start blessing her with children which made her to be very happy about it for the blessings God showed to her and her husband Nnaife

Theme of determination and death

Nnu Ego determined that she will take care of her children if God give her any ,she did so by taking good care of them when Nnaife went to war and left her to take care of her children all alone she determined that but she later died in the story without seeing her children who left her and travelled out for study they only come back when they heard of the death of Nnu Ego’s death that was why they come back home to give her a befitting burial .

Theme of neglect and differences

In the story female are neglected if you give birth to a female child they will see it as nothing when Nnu Ego gave birth to her twin daughters Nnaife came back and asked of what she gave birth to and they told him that it is a female he wasn’t happy about that .And in the work they think that taking female to school is a wasn’t of money and resources they prefer the girl to stay at home and learn how to cook food later he will he given out for marriage and the father of the child will use the money for something very important and good also they take girls as not being fruitful to the family unlike the boys that will stay and answer the name of their father and bear children in the name of their father as well unlike the girls who will be married out to other people and other families to be taken care of by them.

Theme of fulfillment

Nnu Ego and Nwokeocha Agadi’s heart desire was fulfilled .In the work Nnu Ego and her father Nwokeocha Agadi made scarifies for her to be pregnant she prayed to her god hoping that she will be pregnant but later in the story their prayers were answered she was blessed with ten children but only eight survived it her heart desire is fulfilled after all her prayers

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