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Aidoo's work:

Changes is the story of Esi, an independent working wife in Accra who leaves her husband, Oko, not because he has affairs with other women but because he intrudes on her time and personal space. Early in the novel Oko is thinking about his relationship with Esi. His friends have suggested that he is wrong to let her know that he loves her. Esi does not seem to respond with any warmth. Oko feels hopeless about their relationship.

Oko and Esi's Relationship

Oko puts pressure on Esi to become a "proper" wife, to leave the job she loves and have more children. Esi feels trapped and, when she meets and falls in love with Ali, an intelligent and successful man who is already married, she wants to become his second wife. This seems to be a perfect way of combining her independent lifestyle with love, without having a full-time husband. But, before doing this, she goes to visit her grandmother, Nana, in her village to ask her advice...

Grandmother, Nana's advice.

Aidoo believes that the grandmother character has captured the nature of marriage. The grandmother believes that the best husband is the one who wants a lot from his wife. Another of the grandmother's sayings is that a bride's wedding day is a funeral of the self.

"I'm struck by how much I think the grandmother caught of the essence of marriage as a societal institution and what it has meant for women That's what interests me - I mean it's like she got it, someone just defined it -marriage for people. "
Ama Ata Aidoo

In the clash between personal expectations and traditional values, Esi forgets the power of emotions. She believes that she can make a traditional polygamous marriage work to her advantage - that by becoming a second wife she will gain a kind of freedom to live the other areas of her life independently. Aidoo says that in her rational analysis of the situation, Esi has forgotten the power of the human heart.

"Esi herself overlooked the fact that the heart has a way of going in its own way without listening to the head. And so, after she had agreed to marry Ali and she suspected that Ali was running after some third woman then she became unhappy. And although she thought it was going to be good for her to be a second wife without her considering the first wife, she realised that it hurts to think that she would now have to share Ali with another woman who was not even his first wife. So I think that you can survive being a second wife if you think you can also hold your heart in check and not mind, sharing the man you love and I don't think it s possible. "
Ama Ata Aidoo

publication details

The Dilemma of a Ghost /Anowa (play) (1969), Longman International Education
Our Sister Killjoy (1977), Longman
Changes (1991), Longman

life events
key influences and themes
Aidoo's work
the next chapter
being a woman writer
  Women Writers
  Meena Alexander
  Maya Angelou
  Shashi Deshpande
  Margaret Drabble
  Buchi Emecheta
  Jamaica Kincaid
  Doris Lessing
  Bharati Mukherjee
  Michele Roberts
  Helen Simpson

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