Iyayi in his novel shows the social realism in the Nigeria. He shows the distance between the rich and the poor and how the rich uses the man power of the poor to enrich themselves. The novelist tells the story the Idemudia and his wife Adisa lived in abject poverty, in order to feed the family Idemudia sold his blood to blood banks.
Idemudia offloaded fifteen hundred bags of cement under a terrible rainfall with his friends at a mere wage of five naira per labourer, at the end of the work he caught pneumonia and was hospitalized. Adisa seen her husband in that condition sort of what to do as to pay his hospital bill. Obofuns returned to Idemudia apartment the next day to accuse him of stealing bags of cement, but Adisa defended her husband.
Idemudia in the hospital was given a bed with a man suffering from acough and they had to share bed because there was no space in the hospital.
Obofun apologized to Adisa and invited her to his hotel, when Adisa sort of what to do so as to discharge her husband from the hospital, she did not go into borrowing because they have borrowed enough and have not paid back she went to Obofun’s hotel room and met him, he offered her drink and food and made the offers available for her in the things of given her cartons gins to sell and also a hundred naira, Adisa refused the offer at first day but been desperate to discharge her husband from the hospital, she had to take the adultery in other to pay her husband’s bills. Adisa did not visit Idemudia the day she went to work for her husband’s hospital’s bill. Idemudia’s friend contributed money to pay his bills in the hospital and when Adias saw this she regretted meeting with Obofun at the first place.
Obofun after recovery loved his wife the more for her hard-work and for taking care of him during the period, Adisa told him that the cartoon of gins was given to her by her aunt to sell and bring her gain to her, Idemudia said he is going to go and thank the aunt but Adisa told him that the aunt travelled and will not be back anytime soon, Idemudia said he will wait to greet her whenever she comes, Adisa went ahead to tell her aunt what she did to get the money and the gin, she supported her because she told her to go out and make her money
Queen works on constructing contract and is on the verge of losing her contract, she needs labourer to help make the work faster, she decided to employ Idemudia and his friends knowing that they will accept the job at all cost but the reverse being the case Idemudia came in and aligned with other workers to go on strike, so that queen will pay them well, they said that they work more than what they are been paid. Queen called Idemudia being the head of the protest to bribe him but he rejected the bribe, because if he accepts it he will be betraying the others.
Queen agreed on increasing their pay because she checked on what to lose if the laborers go on strike, she agreed on their protest but failed to comply, she tried using tricks on them but the labourers failed to resume work unless she pays them.
Queen tried using all she had to make sure Idemudia accepts her offer, she invited him over to her place and offered him a drink and after the drink she took him to her room and tried all she could to seduce him but he thought of his wife at home and rejected the offer but before he could live the room, queen told her that he thinks that his wife is so faithful, Idemudia stood his ground that his wife was faithful, queen told him to go back home and ask his wife where she got the gin and money from, Idemudia with heavy heart left the hotel, and on getting home, he met the wife asleep, he wakes her up and ask her where she got the gin and money from. Adisa had no choice than to tell her husband the truth, Idemudia forgave the wife because she had nothing to do than that and also he himself have done more, he did not return to the site because queen asked him not to resume work again.
The novel starts in the family home of Idemudia where the family is less of a home and more of a house. Idemudia’s father beats his mum with reckless abandon at the slightest provocation.
Idemudia dropped out of school. His father had refused to pay his fees anymore and his mother had no money to pay his fees either. His father married three wives. At a point, the father didn’t pay tax in the village. Idemudia’s father and uncle ran into hiding because they were owing and when the police came, they seized Idemudia in place of his father and had him sleep in jail for three days. When Idemudia’s mother tried to get his father to release him, she got the beating of her life. Idemudia had always tried to stop his father from beating her and that was the last straw that broke the carmel’s neck because the father asked them to pack out of his house and never come back. He chased his first wife from his house and she returned to her father’s house raining all the abuses she could on him. As a result of that, Idemudia had sworn never to beat any woman. He swore never to set his foot again in his fathers’ house. Even when years later, message was sent across to Idemudia by his father’s people that his father was dying and needed his assistance, he did not return to the village. Idemudia was faced with the pangs of hunger and unemployment. Such hunger that even his loving wife was beginning to take him for granted
Idemudia got to know Mrs Obofun Queen the day it was raining and her car got stuck in a gutter. After he helped pull the car out, Queen mentions that she needed him to get more labourers to help offload three lorries of cement for a very little amount. Queen was an example of the rich without conscience. She did not even consider that the men were to work under the rain. She let them do all the work for a little pay and felt satisfied with herself when they accepted it because they were hungry.
By the next day, Idemudia was down with a fever and Adisa was not around that night. The next morning, she found five naira on the table and rushed him to the hospital. There at the hospital, there was no space so he was redirected to another hospital were they was no space still. So he managed to share a foam on the floor with another patient who coughed extremely. Adisa hungry and famished and in search of money to treat her husband and money for food too; was met by Mr. Obofun who claimed that Idemudia and his crew stole bags of cements from his wife the night before. Adisa did not know what to do, she vented at the man and told him that her husband was hospitalized and that her husband stole no bag of cement.
The next day the man was back for Adisa but this time with a different purpose. He had imagined having Adisa as a concubine. At first, Adisa was scared that Mr. Obofun was still after finding her husband so she refused the ride but later agreed. Mr. Obofun promised her his help. He assured her that he was going to give her money (which was quite a big sum) and bottles of whisky to start up a small shop. Still at the hospital, the man sleeping on the same bed with Idemudia died and still they did not change his bed for him. They only disinfected it. That night at the hospital, there was a party which was in honour of Florence Nightingales who was referred to as a Mother of nursing.
Idemudia sat by the door way waiting for Adisa to come with his clothes and maybe any money to pay his debts in the hospital but that night, Mr. Obofun had succeeded in having his way with Adisa such that he did not go to the hospital again. The next day, Idemudia was released and went back home.
Alisa couldn’t get herself to tell him what happened, she became quiet and different. Meanwhile Queen hired Idemudia to work on the site which had an ultimatum of ten days to be completed. The pay was too small and they protested. Queen decided to lure Idemudia with her body to stop the protest but when it failed, she told Idemudia of his wife’s escapades.
Idemudia felt bad but understood and forgave Adisa
Point of View
The novel is narrated from an omniscient point of view. The author tells the story from the different angles of the different characters, showing he knows each of their thoughts.
The novel has a social class background. The rich and the poor exist in the novels. It portrays class differences in the society. Mr. Obofun and his wife Queen represent the rich and affluent. While Idemudia and Adisa are the representatives of the poor and wretched. Idemudia struggles with poverty, hunger and unemployment while Mr Obofun and queen struggle to build more money-bringing hotels. It is a contemporary setting. In the sense that the novel is placed in a present time : Hotels, cars, people, are represented just like in recent times.
Theme of the Novel
- Theme of poverty
- Theme of corruption
- Theme of inhumanity
- Theme of social realism
- Theme of violence
- Theme of Exploitation
Theme of poverty: it can be seen in the lives of Idemudia and Adisa the main character of the novel. These poverty lead to do many things such as sending their son to the village to stays with their mother. Idemudia selling his blood to the blood market to provide money for the food, Adisa sleeping with Obofun to get money for their up keep and hospital bill, Idemudia offloading fifteen hundred bags of cements with his friends for the pay of five naira. The poverty was so much that they live the life of borrowing.
Theme of corruption: this theme can be seen in the novel, in the lives of the government officials live in bribe in order to give out what belongs to one. These lead to queen’s constant act which is to construct buildings for the government.
In the hospital the nurses treat the sick as less humans. The people are being treated shabbily, wards are so congested that patients are parried up in beds irrespective of the things of nature of their diseases, the patients also sleep on bare floor along the corridor in front of the wards while empty wards are reserved for the affluent that hardly make use of them.
Theme of inhumanity: the theme of inhumanity can be seen in Queen’s character she employ the poor labourer to offload a trailer full of cement at the prize of five naira each, she also employs labourers in her site and make them work more than their been paid and whoever protests to that will be sacked. The inhumanity to men can be seen in Obofun’s life, seen that he is in a better position to help Adisa went ahead to sleep with her in order to give her what she wants. The inhumanity to man could be seen in the kind of treatment given to the poor in the hospital.
Theme of social realism: the theme can be seen in the novel, in the relationship between the have and they have not’s. These two classes is represented by a sharp economic division which creates the workers serve for the survival as the underdogs and the industrialist who reap the benefit of the labourers toil. The labourers are paid, just enough to keep them alive for more extortion of their lives sweat by the rich.
Theme of violence: the theme can be seen in the pages of the novel, it is all violence when labourers are paid enough to keep them alive for more extortion of their lives sweat by the rich.
Theme of Exploitation: The novel centers on the way in which people of the lower class are exploited and brutally degraded. We are told of the excruciating pains Idemudia and his three friends suffered while trying to make a very little income to feed themselves at least for the night, they were to offload three lorries of cement each containing fifty bags of cement for just five naira, under the rain. And because they could not afford to go on with a hungry stomach, they agreed.
Also the rich man who wanted to buy blood from the men exploited them too. Getting several pints of blood for very little pay. The rich exploited Queen sacked any man who dared ask for an increase in pay and at once brought in more other ready men. The men worked for insatiable amounts and still could not complain for fear of losing their jobs.
Apart from being the lead role and protagonist of the novel, and Idemudia is illustrated as a humble by poor man. One whose dignity is not recked by his unemployed status. He is the son of a farmer who got married to three wives of which his mother is the first. He finished school and began facing the harshness and reality of unemployment.
Idemudia is educated but isn’t employed. He is married to Adisa and they are both hungry. He worked for Queen one certain time and Queen saw him as an honest man and called him the next time and tried to seduce him with her body. Idemudia tried to agree to her whims but his conscience will not let him. He went back to his wife even after he found out that she had sexual intercourse with Mr. Obofun.
Wife to Idemudia. She stood by him through his sad moments. She kept being faithful and loving to him although at a point in time, the pangs of hunger began to affect her love for him. That day for the first time, she had caused Idemudia to raise his hand on her.
She fended for herself and Idemudia when he was hospitalized and though she had an illicit sex encounter with Mr Obofun, she couldn’t tell her husband because she felt guilty. Adisa was driven in to it by her consideration for Idemudia. Adisa’s aunt had always asked her to leave Idemudia and go after rich men since she was beautiful but she refused.
She is the rich woman and antagonist of the novel. Queen is represented as a very pretty woman who has affluence and money. She uses her body to get men to do stuffs for her, ranging from buying provision for her motel to sponsoring her building projects. She got Mr Iriso to provide a load of egs and many tins of peak milk for her Freedom motel. She and her husband, Mr Obofun had agreed to live together no matter what happened between them. She slept with men for the things they did for her. When she realized that Idemudia was not succumbing to her seduction, she told him about the sexual encounter between her husband Obofun and Adisa, his wife.
A wealthy man and owner of the Freedom motel. Married to Queen and father of Lillian and Esie. He threatened Adisa that her husband will be sent to jail for stealing a hundred and fifty bags of cement from his wife and even though he later realized that he was wrong, he did not show it.
He sought for Adisa because to him, she was a wonderful beauty to behold and have as a mistress. He acted nice and promised to help her.
The night he had his way, he had brought her into the house and forcefully had his way. He gave her hundred naira and a carton of whisky to sell.
He and his wife merely lived together, they did not have feelings for themselves. He had wanted to divorce her but because he bought most investment in her name, they agreed to stay together.
She is the neighbor of Idemudia and his wife Adisa. She is caring and understanding. The night Idemudia fell sick and needed to be rushed to the hospital, she helped Adisa get him to the hospital. She lent Adisa a money anytime she had and even protected Adisa’s kid from suspected enemies.
He is the neighbor of Idemudia and husband to mama Jimo. Together with their kid, they live in the same area with idemudia. He works with a transportation company. At one point in time, he was arrested and jailed for an issue he knew nothing about. Someone had stolen the keys to the car he used and bought it back in a totally bad condition. So papa Jimo was beaten up and accused for being the one. He suffered in the hands of both the police and his in mates in the jail.
He is one of the friends of Idemudia. A very bossom and trustworthy friend to be precise. It was he who visited Idemudia when he was in the hospital and though he was poor too, he told Adisa to let him know whenever she had a problem. Again it was he who lent Idemudia money to pay up his hospital fees and be released. He had borrowed the money from another friend.