Last Updated on February 5, 2023 by Ralph Nyadzi
Chapter 4 summary of Second Class Citizen is the next in our complete series of chapter-by-chapter summary of Buchi Emecheta’s novel, Second Class Citizen
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The first thing to note in this Chapter 4 summary of Second Class Citizen is that it is titled, The Daily Minders.
Chapter 4: The Daily Minders
On the first of June, barely three months after her arrival in the United Kingdom, Adah starts her new job as a librarian at the North Finchley Library. Each morning, she boards a train at Finchley Central to go to work.
It is in Chapter 4 of Second Class Citizen that we meet Mrs Konrad for the first time. She is the chief librarian at North Finchley Library and, for that matter, Adah’s immediate boss.
Mrs Konrad is a Czech national. She is loud, large and extremely friendly. But, unlike the younger women at the library, Mrs Konrad has almost no interest in trendy fashion.
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In this Second Class Citizen Chapter 4, Adah, the heroine, comes face to face with the harsh realities of her sorry marriage. This happens each time the young white women at the library talk excitedly about their own plans for marriage. They dream of a future life of marital bliss; something Adah can only imagine happening in the movies.
Secondly, Adah discovers in Second Class Citizen Chapter Four that the English people are avid readers of fiction. Contrary to what transpires back in Lagos, Nigeria, one need not bribe the English in order to make them borrow fiction to read.
Now, Adah considers her new job as a first class citizen job. She appears to be fixated on her status in society so this job gives her some satisfaction. At least, she will be a first class citizen for part of the day until she gets back home to be confronted with the reality of her second class citizen status.
English Foster Parents for Nigerian Children
Another issue that comes up in Chapter 4 of Second Class Citizen is the resentment everybody feels in Adah’s home at Ashdown Street about her children not being sent to live with an English foster parent. The 30-something-year-old landlady and landlord feel it. The other Nigerian tenants, mostly Yoruba, cannot hide it. And, so, Francis feels it too because he hates other people speaking about him and pointing accusing fingers in his direction.
We learn that the normal practice for most Nigerian families here is to find an English woman with whom their children live separately. So Francis is not happy with Adah’s refusal to see reason. Because he knows it is going to create trouble for them.
“Everybody laughs at us in this place. No African child lives with his parents. It is not convenient; it is not possible. There is no accommodation for it. Moreover, they won’t learn good English. They are much, much better off with an English woman.”
Adah’s children are therefore restricted in their movement around the house and in terms of the sounds they make.
The Story of Babalola and Janet
Again, in Chapter 4 of Second Class Citizen, we get to hear the remarkable story of Mr Babalola, the man from Northern Nigeria and Janet, his white wife.
Babalola has had to settle down with Janet, a poor and miserable orphaned white girl he literally picked up in a telephone kiosk. Babalola himself has become a failed, once-rich student who arrived in England on a Northern Nigerian Scholarship.
For failed Nigerian men in the UK like Babalola, marrying a white woman, regardless of who she is, is a welcome way of boosting their shattered self-image.
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We Meet Trudy, the Daily Child Minder
It is Babalola who, together with Francis, will introduce Adah to Trudy. Trudy is a prostitute who doubles as a registered and approved daily child-minder. It is clear that Francis, a man with an insatiable sexual appetite, has sexual relations with Trudy too. He speaks in glowing terms about Trudy and succeeds in convincing Adah to take Trudy as the caretaker of their children while Adah is at work.
But Trudy is not only careless and dirty. She is also a chronic liar.
Titi and Vicky are exposed to filth from a rubbish dump near where Trudy lives. Vicky’s later illness could be traced to this exposure. It is at this same time that the once-loquacious Titi has suddenly become an unusually silent little girl.
Francis Keeps Failing His Exams
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In the meantime, Francis has been busy failing his examinations in Cost and Works Accounting like nobody’s business.
Just as he always does, Francis blames his repeated failures on poor Adah. He says his persistent poor performance can only be traced to three factors:
- Adah bringing the children to England to make life difficult for him
- Adah’s refusal to allow the children to be fostered
- Adah getting pregnant just after arriving in England
Miss Stirling, the Children’s Officer
As for Adah, she has other things to worry about. She is extremely uncomfortable with the filth and health hazards her children are constantly exposed to at Trudy’s place. She, therefore, implores Miss Stirling, the children’s officer, to get her a nursery place. But Miss Stirling says there is none available.
So at the end of Chapter 4 of Second Class Citizen, Adah has to allow her children to continue spending the day with Trudy, the daily minder, who apparently has no interest in protecting the children from filth and danger.
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5 thoughts on “Chapter 4 Summary of Second Class Citizen”
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