The Househelp in African Literature and Its Implication for Identity Representations: Evidence from Adichie’s Select Prose Fictions

Angela Ngozi Dick


Househelps are usually boys and girls who go to live with other families to serve as domestic workers. They are usually not paid but their services are converted training them in school or in entrepreneurial empowerment. Their place in African Literature has been explored in Oyono’s Houseboy to portray colonialist policy of assimilation. In Ekwensi’s Jagua Nana’s Daughter, the househelp takes over the home as the protagonist combines the search for her mother and her carrier as a lawyer. Adichie’s prose fictions are inundated with househelps. This article probes the roles of househelps in the development of the plot and finds out that they are portrayed as human beings with rights and privileges. Such portrayal is determined by the attitude of their Masters or Madams. In Purple Hibiscus, the househelp shares in the subjugation of the family because of the harsh treatment of their father. In Half of a Yellow Sun and “Imitation”, the househelps participate in the decision making around food and emotional problems of their Masters and Madams. The author’s portrayal of the househelps brings into focus the need to accept this category of people as human beings to be valued. The literary theory that will inform the analysis of the texts is New Historicism propounded by Stephen Jay Greenbalt.

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English Linguistics Research
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