Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Ralph Nyadzi
In this post, you will have concise short answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Second Class Citizen. These frequently asked questions and answers on Second Class Citizen are about the themes, characters, plot and other literary devices or figures of speech in the novel.
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Make sure to check out questions #71 and #79. You will love them.
Let’s get going.
1. What are the themes in Second Class Citizen?
Below is the list of the themes in Second Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta. It is a mixed bag of both major themes and minor themes in the novel.
- Racial Discrimination or Racism
- Gender Discrimination or Gender Inequality
- Status or Social Status
- Protest or Second Class Citizen as Protest Literature
- Reversal of fortunes
- Maternal Oppression
- Loveless Marriage
- Domestic Violence
- Child abuse
- Child Neglect
- Negligence or Dereliction of Duty
- Liberation/Women’s Liberation or Freedom
- Women’s role in the oppression of the female gender. For example, Ma’s treatment of Adah in her childhood makes her develop more affection towards Pa.
- Irresponsible Parenting or Parental Irresponsibility
2. List 10 Igbo words used in Second Class Citizen
The following are the Igbo words and other Nigerian expressions in Second Class Citizen. They include some Yoruba expressions too.
Igbo Expressions in Second Class Citizen
The majority of Igbo words used in Second Class Citizen are names of characters or persons.
- Adah Nna
- Nne Nna
- Adah Eze
Yoruba and Other Nigerian Expressions in Second Class Citizen
3. Name 10 Characters in Second Class Citizen
See below a list of 10 characters in Second Class Citizen.
- Francis Obi
- Mrs Konrad
- Mr Noble or Pa Noble
- Mr Okpara
Since questions about characters in Second Class Citizen are frequently asked in examinations, I will urge you to follow the link below for a more detailed analysis of the various characters in the novel.
4. What are the literary devices in Second Class Citizen?
The literary devices and figures of speech in Second Class Citizen include euphemism, allusion, alliteration, metaphor, simile, personification, symbolism, irony, paradox, oxymoron, hyperbole, contrast, climax and humour.
5. What is irony in Second Class Citizen
An example of the use of irony in Second Class Citizen is found in the expression below.
So Pa’s death was a blessing to themSecond Class Citizen
Another example of irony is the disconnect we see between the name of Francis’s chosen course of study, Works and Accountancy, and his unwillingness to work and account for Adah’s sacrifices and investments in him.
6. How is allusion used in Second Class Citizen?
Much of the allusion used in Second Class Citizen is biblical allusion. It is in reference to Adah’s frequent thoughts about what the bible says as justification for her actions.
Below is one example of such biblical allusions in Second Class Citizen.
Didn’t Jesus say that one should not steal? But she was sure there was a place in the Bible where it said that one could be as clever as the serpent but as harmless as the dove.Buchi Emecheta – Second Class Citizen
7. How is hyperbole used in Second Class Citizen?
Here are some examples of hyperbole or exaggeration in Second Class Citizen.
- ‘When Adah was still at the American Consulate, news appeared in the Nigerian newspapers that Lawyer Nweze was defending a Hausa multi-millionaire. They said the millionaire was so rich that he had a railway line built right down to his palace door.’
- ‘She did not dispute that. She was ugly then, all skin and bone.’
- ‘The headmaster looked at her Kwashiorkor-ridden body‘
8. Give an example of the use of symbols in Second Class Citizen
The Presence is one example of the symbols used in Second Class Citizen. You can read more details about the Presence here.
Fire is another symbol in Second Class Citizen. The fire Francis sets to Adah’s manuscript also stands for the beginning of the end of their marriage.
The incident kills any hope Adah might have still been harbouring inside her heart to salvage a marriage doomed for failure.
Thirdly, the numerous fights represent the constant struggle between negative African traditional attitudes towards the female gender and the women’s desire to break down the barriers and liberate themselves from male domination.
9. How is personification used in Second Class Citizen?
This is one example of personification in Second Class Citizen.
The dream had by now assumed an image in her mind, it seemed to take life, to breathe and to smile kindly at her.Buchi Emecheta – Second Class Citizen
10. Give examples of a Simile in Second Class Citizen.
Two examples of a simile in Second Class Citizen are in the below extract from the novel. They are part of the incident in which Adah and Francis take Adah’s first salary.
The smile on Francis’s face was like warm sunshine after a thunderous rain.Buchi Emecheta – Second Class Citizen
Both husband and wife carried the money to Tinubu Square in Adah’s work bag like a delicate baby.Buchi Emecheta – Second Class Citizen
11. What is the climax in Second Class Citizen?
We can consider the incident in which Francis burns the manuscript of Adah’s novel as the climax of Second Class Citizen. At this point in the narrative, things have apparently come to a head.
Adah has been able to tolerate so much of Francis’s toxic attitude/ but for him to burn the manuscript of her maiden novel, is too much for her to take. The boiling point has been reached and, clearly, the marriage is beyond redemption.
12. How is contrast used in Second Class Citizen?
Examples of contrast are in the following situations.
When Francis and Mr Okpara Meet
On this occasion, we see the clear difference between Francis and Mr Okpara. For example, while Mr Okpara is neatly dressed, Francis looks unkempt.
Also, Francis is the direct opposite of Mr Okpara in the matter of parental responsibilities. Unlike Francis, Mr Okpara is a responsible husband and father.
When Adah Gives Birth to Bubu
Another instance of contrast in Second Class Citizen relates to Adah’s experiences at the University College Hospital, London where she has gone to give birth to a baby to be called Bubu.
Adah’s state of deprivation contrasts with the abundance of love and gifts that others like the Sleek Woman receive from their husbands.
13. Where is humour used in Second Class Citizen?
Humour in Second Class Citizen is used in the incident where Ma is forced to drink a lot of gari without sugar at the police station.
Another humorous incident in Second Class Citizen is the marriage ceremony involving Adah, Francis and a certain official.
Again, we see the humour in Second Class Citizen in the manner Adah and Francis handle the former’s first salary from her job at the American Consulate Library.
14. What is the exposition in Second Class Citizen?
Much of chapters one and two represent the exposition in Second Class Citizen. These two chapters set the stage for what will happen in the rest of the narrative.
For example, it is in these opening chapters that the narrator in Second Class Citizen introduces us to the major characters and some minor characters we will encounter throughout the narrative.
Examples of characters in the exposition part of Second Class Citizen are Adah, Boy, Mr and Mrs Ofili, Mr Cole and Lawyer Nweze.
15. Where is the rising action in Second Class Citizen?
The stage at which Adah begins to attend school can be regarded as the rising action in Second Class Citizen.
16. What is the turning point in Second Class Citizen?
One major turning point in Second Class Citizen happens in the early part of the novel. It is at the time Adah gets a job with the American Consulate Library.
From this moment on, the protagonist will undergo a process of status transformation from an almost helpless and penniless girl into someone who is capable of taking care of not only herself but also the entire household of the Obis.
This development also sets the stage for Adah and Francis, her husband, to relocate to the United Kingdom.
Thus, the job at the American Consulate Library is a turning point because it crystallizes Adah’s best chance to fulfil her childhood dream of travelling to the United Kingdom.
Another significant turning point in Second Class Citizen is the incident involving Francis’s destruction of the manuscript of Adah’s maiden novel.
By setting fire to Adah’s cherished literary work, Francis has also set fire to Adah’s unyielding love and her marriage to him. From this point onwards, things will never be the same again.
17. What is the falling action in Second Class Citizen?
The aftermath of the big fight represents the falling action of Second Class Citizen. From this time onward, especially in the chapter titled ‘The Last Ditch’, the die seems to have been cast finally. The incident sparks a series of events that will result in the chapter titled ‘The Collapse’.
18. Does Second Class Citizen end in a cliffhanger?
To a very large extent, yes. Second Class Citizen ends in a cliffhanger mainly because it ends at the stage where Adah meets an old Nigerian schoolmate in town and we do not know exactly what her next move will be after leaving Francis’s house. It is an open-ended ending that lends itself to different interpretations.
19. Why is Second Class Citizen a satire?
Here is a different way to phrase the above frequently asked question about Second Class Citizen: Why is Second Class Citizen a novel of social criticism?
Second Class Citizen is a satire to a very large extent because the narrative exposes and criticizes many wrongs in society. A culture of discrimination against the female gender, irresponsible fathers, incompetent child-minders and racism are some of these social evils.
20. Is Second Class Citizen a tragedy?
No. Second Class Citizen cannot be a tragedy because it lacks the usual features in the literature that qualify a literary work to be called a tragedy.
21. What is the moral lesson in Second Class Citizen?
One moral lesson that Second Class Citizen teaches is that it is not advisable for a young woman to force herself on a young man who does not show any affection for her.
Another moral lesson in Second Class Citizen is that men who father children must assume responsibility and take good care of them.
Thirdly, Second Class Citizen teaches the moral lesson that every young girl is capable of achieving her dreams no matter the challenges she may face.
Second Class Citizen also teaches the moral lesson that gender discrimination must never be tolerated in any society.
22. What is the point of view of Second Class Citizen?
The point of view in Second Class Citizen is the third person narrator.
23. Is Adah a good mother in Second Class Citizen?
Yes, Adah is a good mother in Second Class Citizen.
24. What makes Adah a good mother in Second Class Citizen?
Adah is a good mother because, in spite of the many challenges she has to go through in her marriage to Francis Obi, she fights hard to take good care of her children and also send them to school.
In fact, one reason why Adah migrated to England is to make sure she gives her children the opportunity to have high-quality education in England.
25. What is Adah’s dream in Second Class Citizen?
In Second Class Citizen, Adah’s most important childhood dream is to travel to the United Kingdom. She wants to set foot in England just like Lawyer Nweze, the illustrious son of Ibuza.
Below is part of the conversation between Adah and Francis on Adah’s first payday.
And to be able to travel to the United Kingdom, Adah realizes that she also needs to fulfil the dream of attending school and getting the needed level of education and a good-paying job.
Growing up, Adah has nurtured other personal aspirations. Some of these additional dreams are to
- be a woman of a high-class social status
- pursue a career in librarianship
- attend a university in England and
- become a published writer.
26. Why is Adah a second class citizen?
Two major factors that render Adah a second class citizen are her female gender in a male-dominated Igbo society and her being a black African immigrant in London.
27. What is the relationship between Adah and Francis?
Here are some adjectives we can use to describe the relationship between Adah and Francis.
28. Who are Mr and Mrs Ofili in Second Class Citizen?
Mr and Mrs Ofili in Second Class Citizen are Adah’s parents. They both died very early in the novel leaving behind the young Adah and Boy, her brother, as orphans.
29. Who was Adah’s father in Second Class Citizen?
Adah’s father in Second Class Citizen is Mr Ofili also known as Pa.
30. Who was Adah’s mother in Second Class Citizen?
Adah’s mother in Second Class Citizen is Mrs Ofili also known as Ma.
31. Who did Adah live with after the death of her father?
Adah goes to live with her mother’s elder brother ‘as a servant’ after the death of Pa, her father.
32. Who is Adah’s husband in Second Class Citizen?
Adah’s husband in Second Class Citizen is Francis Obi.
33. Whom did Mrs Ofili marry after the death of Pa, her husband?
Mrs Ofili marries Pa’s brother, according to tradition. The man is said to have ‘inherited’ her from his deceased brother. This phenomenon is one more evidence of the theme of gender inequality in Second Class Citizen – a situation where women are treated as property belonging to men.
34. Who are Francis’s girlfriends/mistresses in Second Class Citizen?
Francis’s mistresses or girlfriends in Second Class Citizen are Trudy and Sue. The extra-marital affairs that Francis has with these women point to the themes of a loveless marriage, infidelity, gender discrimination and domestic violence.
35. Why did Adah marry Francis in Second Class Citizen?
Did Adah marry Francis out of love? The simple answer is no.
Adah never married Francis because of love. Adah only saw Francis as a convenient tool she could use to advance her education and career dreams.
For example, Adah would not marry an old Igbo suitor who would control her and prevent her from realizing her dreams just because she is his wife.
But at the same time, she needs to marry since society would not allow her to live on her own in Lagos – something she desperately needs to enable her to accomplish her dreams.
Adah’s marriage to Francis is therefore one of convenience. With the young, naive and educated Francis as her husband, it will be easier for her to take her own decisions about her future.
However, we must quickly point out that Adah will later develop a deep affection for Francis.
This is quite strange because Francis’s disdain for Adah’s rights coupled with his manipulative and abusive attitude towards her only gets worse with the passage of time.
36. How was Adah discriminated against in Second Class Citizen?
Discrimination against Adah in Second Class Citizen generally takes the form of multiple obstacles that society places in her path as she fights to assert her rights as a woman and achieve her personal dreams.
Here are instances of discrimination against Adah for being a female and a black African immigrant.
Discrimination from Adah’s Own Family
- Little Adah was initially denied the chance to attend school while Boy, her younger brother, goes to the expensive Ladi-Lak School.
- Adah is forced to live like a servant in her uncle’s house following the death of Pa.
- Her people try to force her to drop out of school at a tender age. They want to use her bride price to take care of the family and fund Boy’s continued education.
Discrimination in Adah’s Marriage
- Adah has little control over her own salary from her job at the American Consulate library. The situation remains the same in London. Much of the money is spent on Francis, her husband, and her in-laws.
- When the chance first comes for Adah and Francis to travel to the United Kingdom, Francis’s father refuses to allow her to go for the mere reason that she is a woman.
- Adah suffers many cases of abuse in her marriage to Francis in London. Francis says Adah and other women are brainless. The only thing they know is how to breastfeed their babies.
- Francis destroys the manuscript of Adah’s first novel to be called The Bride Price with fire because he claims his parents cannot stomach his wife publishing the contents of such a book.
The white landlady on Hawley Street, who at first promised Adah an apartment, changes her mind when she discovers that Adah and her husband are black.
37. What makes Adah a good wife in Second Class Citizen?
Here are the reasons why Adah can be considered a good wife:
- She works hard to take care of her husband and children.
- Adah continues to respect and treat her husband with dignity.
This is in spite of the maltreatment Adah continues to suffer in her marriage.
- Adah sacrifices her personal needs for Francis, her husband, to feel comfortable.
38. What makes Francis a failed father?
Francis is a failed father in the following ways.
- He is unwilling to work to take care of his children.
- Francis shows little interest in the welfare of his children. The role he plays in Vicky’s illness is a pointer to this fact.
- He leaves Adah alone to take care of the children’s education.
- Francis threatens his own children with violence.
- He abuses Adah, his wife, both physically and psychologically in the presence of their children.
- Above all, for his own convenience, Francis denies having anything to do with the children. In the magistrate’s courtroom at Clerkenwell, Francis boldly says he and Adah has never been married.
- Francis’s inability or refusal to take full responsibility for the needs of his own children makes him a failed father.
39. What makes Francis a failed husband?
Francis is a failed husband for the following reasons.
- He abuses Adah, his wife, both physically and emotionally.
- Francis does nothing to support his wife financially.
- Also, Francis Obi’s behaviour shows that he does not understand what it means to be a married man. For example, he is lazy and complains bitterly anytime he has to take up a job.
- Francis makes Adah feel unloved and deprived during her stay in the University College Hospital maternity ward. This is where she has gone to give birth to Bubu, their second son and third child.
40. What does Adah hope Mr Okpara will do?
Adah is not sure what she wants Mr Okpara to do by bringing him home to see Francis. At this stage, she is just a confused and battered woman.
Why did she allow Mr Okpara to come home with her? Adah herself did not know the answer.Second Class Citizen
41. What are the names of Adah’s children in Second Class Citizen
The names of Adah’s children in Second Class Citizen are Titi, Vicky, Bubu and Dada. The first and the fourth are girls while the second and the third ones are boys.
42. How many children does Adah have in Second Class Citizen?
Adah has four children in Second Class Citizen. At the closing stages of the novel, Adah is carrying her fifth pregnancy.
43. How many daughters has Adah given birth to in Second Class Citizen?
Adah has two daughters in Second Class Citizen.
44. What are the names of Adah’s daughters
Adah’s daughters’ names in Second Class Citizen are Titi and Dada.
45. How many sons has Adah given birth to in Second Class Citizen?
Adah has two sons in Second Class Citizen.
46. What are the names of Adah’s sons in Second Class Citizen?
The names of Adah’s sons in Second Class Citizen are Vicky and Bubu.
47. What is the name of Adah’s first child in Second Class Citizen?
The name of Adah’s first child in Second Class Citizen is Titi.
48. What is the name of Adah’s first daughter in Second Class Citizen?
The name of Adah’s first daughter in Second Class Citizen is Titi.
49. What is the name of Adah’s first son in Second Class Citizen?
The name of Adah’s first son in Second Class Citizen is Vicky.
50. What is the name of Adah’s second son in Second Class Citizen
The name of Adah’s second son in Second Class Citizen is Bubu.
51. What is the name of Adah’s second daughter in Second Class Citizen?
Adah’s second daughter in Second Class Citizen is Dada.
52. What is the name of Adah’s fifth child in Second Class Citizen?
We don’t know the name of Adah’s fifth child in Second Class Citizen because she is still carrying her fifth pregnancy at the time the narrative comes to an end.
53. Who is Titi in Second Class Citizen?
Titi in Second Class Citizen is Francis and Adah’s first child and first daughter.
54. Who is Vicky in Second Class Citizen?
Vicky in Second Class Citizen is Francis and Adah’s second child and first son.
55. Where was Titi born in Second Class Citizen?
Titi in Second Class Citizen was born in Lagos, Nigeria.
56. Which one of Adah’s children was born in the absence of Francis, their father?
Vicky in Second Class Citizen was born in the absence of Francis, his father. At the time Vicky was born, Francis was in the United Kingdom pursuing a course in Works and Accountancy.
In Second Class Citizen, it is an irony, however, that while in London, Francis hates to work and cannot account for the investment Adah has made in him with her salary and personal sacrifices.
57. Who is Bubu in Second Class Citizen?
Bubu in Second Class Citizen is Francis and Adah’s third child and second son.
58. Who is Dada in Second Class Citizen?
Dada in Second Class Citizen is Francis and Adah’s fourth child and second daughter.
59. How many times did Adah get pregnant in Second Class Citizen?
Adah got pregnant five times in Second Class Citizen.
60. Who is the main character in Second Class Citizen
The main or central character in Second Class Citizen is Adah.
61. Why is the novel called Second Class Citizen?
The novel is called Second Class Citizen because it is mainly about the abuses and challenges that Adah, the protagonist is forced to deal with mainly because, as a female from an Igbo society and a black African immigrant in London, she is treated as a second-rate citizen.
In other words, the title Second Class Citizen encapsulates the major themes of gender discrimination and racial prejudice in the novel.
62. How is Adah treated in Second Class Citizen?
Adah is treated like a Second Class Citizen in the novel.
63. Who are the male characters in Second Class Citizen?
Among the male characters in Second Class Citizen are Francis Obi, Mr Okpara, Bill, Cousin Vincent, Boy, Mr Ofili, Mr Obi (Francis’s father also known as Pa), Lawyer Nweze, Pa Noble or Mr Noble, Babalola and Mr Cole.
64. Who are the female characters in Second Class Citizen?
The female characters in Second Class Citizen include Adah, Mrs Konrad, Mrs Ofili or Ma, Mrs Obi (Francis’s mother) or Ma, Fay, Peggy, Trudy, Mrs Sue Noble, Janet, Miss Stirling, the Landlady on Hawley Street and the Beautiful Nurse.
65. Who are the major characters in Second Class Citizen?
The major characters in Second Class Citizen include Adah, Francis, Boy, Mr Ofili and Mrs Ofili.
66. Who are the minor characters in Second Class Citizen?
Some of the minor characters in Second Class Citizen are Mrs Konrad, Mrs Sue Noble, Mrs Obi, the Indian Doctor, Fay, Janet, the Sleek Woman, Miss Stirling, Cynthia, Peggy, Babalola, Mr Okpara, Bill and Cousin Vincent.
The author of Second Class Citizen is Buchi Emecheta
68. What is the nationality of Buchi Emecheta
Buchi Emecheta is a Nigerian
69. Is Buchi Emecheta still alive?
No. Buchi Emecheta passed away some years ago. In fact, Buchi Emecheta died on January 25 2017 at the age of 73.
70. What is Buchi Emecheta’s full name?
According to Wikipedia, Buchi Emecheta’s full name is Florence Onyebuchi ‘Buchi’ Emecheta.
71. What is the meaning of the name Onyebuchi?
Well … I really want to know.
A big shout out to my Nigerian friends (especially those from Delta State). Please help me in a comment below. I’ll be most grateful. Thank you!
72. What is Buchi Emecheta’s date of birth?
Buchi Emecheta’s date of birth is July 21 1944.
73. Is Buchi Emecheta regarded as the mother of African Literature?
No. It is rather Flora Nwapa, another Nigerian writer, who is often referred to as the mother of African Literature.
74. Which is Buchi Emecheta’s first published novel?
Buchi Emecheta’s first published novel is Second Class Citizen.
75. In which year was Second Class Citizen published?
Second Class Citizen was published in 1974.
76. Why is Second Class Citizen often described as semi-autobiographical?
Second Class Citizen is semi-autobiographical because the narrative is derived from the actual early childhood experiences of Buchi Emecheta, the author, and her early days with her husband in London before she divorced him.
77. Where was Buchi Emecheta born?
Buchi Emecheta was born in Lagos, Nigeria.
78. From which state in Nigeria did Buchi Emecheta’s parents come?
Buchi Emecheta’s parents came from Delta State in Nigeria.
79. What is the nationality of Buchi Emecheta?
Buchi Emecheta was a Nigerian.
80. What is Buchi Emecheta’s ethnic background?
Buchi Emecheta’s ethnic group is Igbo or Ibo
81. What was Adah’s original hometown?
Buchi Emecheta’s hometown is Ibuza or Igbuzo.
82. In which state in Nigeria is Ibuza?
Ibuza is in Delta State in Eastern Nigeria.
83. Which Nigerian language do Adah’s children speak fluently?
Adah’s children, especially Titi and Vicky, speak Yoruba fluently.
84. Why does Titi speak Yoruba fluently instead of Igbo?
Because Titi was born in Lagos.
85. What was Buchi Emecheta’s job or profession in England?
Buchi Emecheta worked as a Librarian in London.
86. In what year did Buchi Emecheta arrive in London?
Buchi Emecheta arrived in London in 1962.
87. How many children did Buchi Emecheta have?
Buchi Emecheta had 5 children.
88. How many novels did Buchi Emecheta write?
Buchi Emecheta wrote over 20 novels, plays and short stories.
89. Which university did Buchi Emecheta attend in England?
Buchi Emecheta attended the University of London.
Below are the titles of Buchi Emecheta’s other novels.
- The Bride Price (1976)
- The Joys of Motherhood (1979)
- The Slave Girl (1977)
- In The Ditch (1972)
- Adah’s Story (1983)
- Head Above Water (1986)
- Double Yoke
- The Rape of Shavi
- The Moonlight Bright
- Destination Biafra
- The Wrestling Match
- The New Tribe
- Naira Power
- Our Own Freedom
- Nowhere to Play
Wrapping it all up
We have come to the end of this giant list of frequently asked questions about Second Class Citizen, a novel by the widely acclaimed Nigerian novelist Buchi Emecheta.
Did you find any of the questions intriguing? Do any of the answers sound controversial or unconvincing to you? I would very much like to know your thoughts in a comment below.
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