Discuss the Theme of Parental Neglect in Amma Darko’s Faceless

Reading Time: 5 minutes


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Back to the theme of parental neglect in Faceless

Similar ways of putting the theme of parental neglect in the novel, Faceless by Amma Darko include the following:

  • The theme of absentee fathers
  • The theme of irresponsible parenting
  • The theme of social neglect
  • The theme of abandoned children
  • The theme of failed marriages
  • The theme of broken homes

Here are your answer points on the theme of parental neglect in Amma Darko’s novel, Faceless. These tutorial notes are to serve as a general guide to enable you to write a high-grade Literature essay on this particular topic and other similar ones.


Parental neglect is a major theme that runs through the novel, Faceless. In this essay, I shall give instances of this social canker, its causes and effects on individuals and on society at large.

I will go on to discuss the contribution of the theme of parental neglect to the development of the plot of the novel.

I shall end with a brief look at the author’s attitude to this problem and any recommendations she may have put forward to deal with the problem of parental neglect in the Ghanaian society and for that matter the larger African society.

Body of the essay


  • Maa Tsuru’s father abandoned her young mother when she was pregnant with Maa Tsuru.
  • Kwei abandons his four children (two unnamed sons, Baby T and Fofo) and their mother, Maa Tsuru, when the financial burden of taking care of them becomes too much for him to carry.
  • Nii Kpakpo is one more absentee father. Kpakpo never makes any effort to fend for his two very young sons he bore with Maa Tsuru
  • Odarley’s mother is unwilling to see the face of her daughter, saying she is a thief.
  • Poison, the street lord, was abandoned by his biological father and then abused by his stepfather. He had to run away from home and seek refuge on the street.
  • Maa Tsuru, fails in her duty as a mother (though admittedly a single parent) to protect her vulnerable children from sexual predators like Kpakpo and Onko. Rather than protect them from the devouring jaws of the street, Maa Tsuru consciously pushes her children there.


  • Uncontrolled procreation – the lightning speed with which Maa Tsuru’s four pregnancies for Kwei follow one another is a case in point.
  • Poverty – Unemployment is the route cause of poverty in the novel. Poverty in turn forces parents to abandon their duties. Kwei’s case, in particular, is due to the fact that he is not gainfully employed. Kwei’s early heroic attempts to face up to his responsibilities are enough proof that but for poverty, he would have done much better.

Maa Tsuru also shirks her responsibilities due to poverty caused by unemployment.

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As for Nii Kpakpo, it is hard to say if he has ever had any meaningful job since he came into the world. Thus, there is no way Kpakpo can take his responsibilities seriously even if he wants to.

  • Failed governance – lack of preventive policies and laws or lack of implementation and enforcement of such.

Male lovers can, therefore, break the law with impunity by beating up their pregnant women and abandoning them to suffer alone.

There appears to be no social support system for vulnerable children who have been neglected by their parents.

Meanwhile, the government turns a blind eye to places like Sodom and Gomorrah to grow into havens for homeless children and adults.

Law enforcement institutions like the police lack the needed resources to prosecute parents and other adults who neglect or molest young girls like Baby T and Fofo.

  • Failed marriages and broken homes – when the family, the very foundation of society is in a state of dysfunction, children are left to suffer.

Maa Tsuru’s lack of success in her attempts to have a stable marital life contributes in no small way to her children ending up on the street.

On the contrary, the venerable Naa Yomo was able to ensure that her children had a proper upbringing and parental care to grow up into responsible adults; thanks to her successful marriage to “a good man”.

Kabria’s children are also saved from the streetism phenomenon largely due to the fact that her marriage, though far from being perfect, remains largely intact.

  • Sheer negligence on the part of irresponsible adults

Violent absentee fathers as well as mothers like Maa Tsuru with a poor sense of judgment are prone to shirk the sacred duty they owe their children.

  • Alcoholism

Both Kwei and Kpakpo are heavy drinkers. You cannot perform your parental functions creditably while at the same time wasting your day and time at drinking spots like Agboo Ayee


  • On individual children

The neglected children are forced into the hostile, often violent world of the street where they are made to suffer all forms of harassment and abuse.

They suffer on a daily basis from hunger and malnutrition. To alleviate their pain and to at least escape temporarily from the traumas they go through, these children indulge in harmful and immoral practices such as heavy drinking of alcohol, watching adult films, premature sex and child prostitution.

  • On society

As we have observed in the novel, the issue of parental neglect ultimately creates tensions within society. It brings about strained relationships between former lovers, between parents and their children, within families and between families.

Indeed the consequences of parental neglect can be quite devastating.

The supposed curse on Maa Tsuru is traced to her father who abandoned Maa Tsuru’s mother and their baby. The innocent Maa Tsuru, right from babyhood, is deemed to have been affected by her aggrieved mother’s curse on her runaway lover and his descendants. Everybody finds it difficult to associate themselves with Maa Tsuru.

Pick-pocketing or petty thievery becomes a means of survival for the neglected street child. Consequently, members of the larger society, the so-called “normal people” find themselves at the mercy of these children.

Kabria nearly loses her purse to the disguised Fofo. Odarley is known to be an experienced petty thief of the street. When the two friends operate together, there is no stopping them.

Ultimately, society loses its crop of future leaders to the streets. In the circumstances, therefore, the future of society looks very bleak.


Parental neglect is the major cause of the street child problem in the novel.

Baby T’s ghastly murder is a direct result of neglect on the part of her father and later, her mother.

It is this death that moves the people at MUTE and Harvest FM to take steps to get to the bottom of the street child phenomenon and to rehabilitate Fofo and other children like her.


The novelist takes a serious view of the issue of parental neglect – a rampant social problem in Ghanaian society.

In a media interview between Sylv Po, Harvest FM’s Good Morning Ghana show host and his guest, Ms Kamame, the novelist intimates that fathers like Adade, Kabria’s husband are equally guilty of some form of parental neglect. They cannot be pardoned for restricting the performance of their fatherly duties to only the provision of the material needs of their children.


To Amma Darko, therefore, there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in the way parents approach the duties they owe their children. This social reform can only take place if the state and the family work hand in hand. They must join their efforts to create conditions that will give their young ones and the whole society a solid foundation for a future of hope and progress.

Thank you.

Ralph spends his day working as an online entrepreneur and e-learning strategist. As a digital publishing trainer/consultant, he has developed exceptional skills in SEO-content writing. He writes extensively on lifelong learning and personal development issues. Ralph is the CEO of RN Digital Media - a digital publishing & content marketing services platform he founded in 2017.

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