2006 Student Research Conference:
19th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Beginning of the Independent African Woman: Altering Female Roles in Ama Ata Aidoo's Changes
Jill M. Steensgard
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

In her novel, Changes (1991), Ama Ata Aidoo presents social conflicts faced by Ghanian women. In a society where specific gender roles are expected to be followed, Aidoo presents the character Esi, an educated female who openly rejects these cultural expectations. In contrast to Esi, her best friend, Opokuya has accepted the life prescribed by Ghanian society. While both women understand that there are opportunities for social constructs to be challenged, Opokuya accepts the age-old feminine roles while Esi struggles to make a place for herself in the Ghanian society as a modern, educated, career-oriented, single African woman. Esi’s character seems successful at liberating herself at the beginning of the novel, however she succumbs to age-old customs upon becoming the second wife of her lover. This paper explores the plight of Ghanian women as they accept and reject the societal expectations, through the characters Esi and Opokuya in Aidoo’s Changes.

Keywords: Ghana, gender roles, cultural expectation, tradition and custom, social conflict, female roles, polygamy, modern woman


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 22-3
Location: VH 1320
Time: 10:15

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