Heart of Darkness

Part I In the novel, Second Class Citizen, the main character, Adah, is a strong, Nigerian women who faces sexism from within her own culture since she was born. She explains, "She was a girl who had arrived when everyone was expecting and predicting a boy... She was so insignificant" (Emecheta 7). In the Ibo culture that Adah grew up in, being a girl was looked down upon. Giving birth to a boy was a major accomplishment, whereas giving birth to a girl was an equally major disappointment. Girls were taught to be useful, not intelligent: "A year or two would do, as long as she can write her name and count. Then she will learn to sew" (Emecheta 9). In Ibo culture, girls were valued for their domestic abilities. Adah refused to be measured by this, instead she was determined to go to school and get an education. She worked had to overcome the sexist attitude that her culture held. This sexist attitude continued after she got married to Francis. Francis is a typical Ibo male. He held the view that the males should go and get educated and the female should stay home, or in Francis? case, work to support his education. Adah knew his attitude, "The sharpness seemed to say to her: ?It is allowed for African males to come and get civilsed in England. But that privileged has not been extended to females yet?" (Emecheta 36). Francis is a pure reflection of the values held by the Ibos. All Francis wanted from Adah was money, to pay for his education, and sex: "As far as he was concerned marriage was sex and lots of it, nothing more" (Emecheta 41). To Francis, Adah was a sexual object. As far as he was concerned, her feelings didn?t matter, she was not a real person. Adah knew she was up against the enemy when she challenged Francis, but she was able to rise about he sexism and leave Francis. Not only does she go against her own culture, but she wants her children to reject the sexist attitude as well: "My sons will learn to treat their wives as people" (Emecheta 121). Adah is a strong women who will not let herself be objectified and will not let the sexism of her culture keep her down. Adah would dislike the way that women are portrayed in Joseph Conrad?s Heart of Darkness because women are treated as though they do not belong in the real world. Women are treated as objects instead of people with thoughts and feelings. It is this treatment that Adah worked hard to overcome. Part II In Joseph Conrad?s Heart of Darkness, Marlow, the narrator of most of the story, tell the story of his journey into the Congo searching for the lost ivory trader, Mr. Kurtz. Throughout Marlow?s journey, he encounters different types of women. In his encounters with his Aunt, the African women, and Mr. Kurtz?s intended fiancee, Marlow shows his demeaning and sexist view of women. Marlow objectifies women depending on their race. The white European females are looked upon as domestic beings who should tend only to their home worlds, while the only African women is portrayed as a sexual object. It is this objectivity that causes Marlow to never reveal the truth about Mr. Kurtz?s life and death. The first woman that we meet is Marlow?s aunt. She is the one paying for his trip to the Congo, yet Marlow does not respect her views. Marlow says, "She talked about ?weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways,? till, upon my word, she made me quite uncomfortable... It?s queer how out of touch with women are" (Conrad 11). In essence, Marlow is saying that women are out of touch with reality, even though it is clear that his Aunt?s views about Africans reflect the popular view of the time. That view being to Christianize Africa and get rid of their traditional culture. This view was held by the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Leoplod II and other prominent men of the time. Marlow does not recognizes his Aunt?s views simply because she is a women and he doesn?t think women belong in the real world. He says, "They [women] live in a world of their own, and there had never been anything like it, and never can be" (Conrad 11).