“The Third and Final Continent”

In the beginning of the story we see the narrator pack their bags and move away from their home country of India. They sailed across the sea and finally made it to England where they would begin their new life.

Throughout the story the narrator spends time with an older woman named Mrs. Croft. He realizes that she is well over 100 years old and starts to become sad and a little mortified. They say that they hate to see Mrs. Croft so vulnerable. This even causes some second hand embarrassment from her for the narrator.

One instance that truly scarred the narrator was the nights where he lie on the side of the bed opposite Mrs. Croft and she would cry to him because she missed her parents. Since he too was far away from his family and had a similar experience he was able to feel compassionate towards her. It was hard for him to hear and see her so upset like that and not be able to do anything.

This instance made him become more close with the landlady as well as his wife. He wanted to be there for both of them, so that they both knew they had someone and they weren’t truly alone.

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“The Way of the Machete” & “Retrenched”

In both “The Way of the Machete” and “Retrenched” we see the male characters become overcome with sticking to their gender roles. We see both male characters become so obsessed with sticking to the role that in the end it hurts them even more. For example, in ‘The Way of The Machete” we see the main character cause his own demise merely for the fact that he cannot take another man thinking he is stronger than him or telling his village that he is weak. He goes and fights the strongest man in the village and does not end up winning.
In “Retrenched” we see the male character loses his job and feels like he cannot provide anymore for his family. He pretends he is going to work and just pretends that everything is fine, when in reality it is not. He even states,”So, now she thinks I’m totally useless! She’s given up on me and thinks I’m not man enough to hold down a job and support my family!” This shows that he can’t handle not being the one in charge and he thinks that his family thinks less of him just because he got laid off which made have not even been the case if he was open and honest with them from the start.
To conclude, gender roles and stereotypes can definitely be the downfall of some individuals.

What is Morality?

“The night he came back and ordered me to his bed, I touched the tiny scar that only I could see, and felt it warm throbbing under my hand and I smiled.”

The statement above is in reference to Nneke from ‘Growing my Hair Again,’ tying her tubes. This was a decision she made in order to protect her future children for coming into a home of abuse. In my thesis statement I state, When faced with tough and uncomfortable situations where it is necessary to fight for their lives both Nneke of ‘Growing my Hair Again’ by Chika Unigwe and Iriola of ‘Kelemo’s Woman’ by Molara Wood show what it truly means to be called a “moral woman.”

I believe that this quote definitely relates to that and shows that she is a moral woman. Some people may think that this decision was immoral but I see it as she had to do what she had to do to protect herself. If she kept allowing him to force himself upon her with the risk of becoming pregnant again, there could have been bigger consequences. He had already caused her to miscarry once, which is a traumatic experience for any woman to go to, and overall, she just doesn’t want another child brought into a home like this.

Transnational Feminism

Both Iriola from “Kelemo’s Woman” and Nneke from “Growing my Hair Again” were both liberated in one way or another.

Transnational Feminism can best be defined as examining issues from a global perspective while considering how they intersect with our lived expectations in the United States.

One example from the text that relates to Nneke’s liberation is as follows, “Sexual liberation is a shared issue among all feminists. Whether we hold traditional values or otherwise, we all firmly believe that our bodies are primarily ours, and we should be able to do with them as we desire.” This directly relates to the scene in “Growing my Hair Again” where Nneke discusses getting her tubes tied. She wanted to protect her future children from coming into a world of abuse. In one scene following the discussion of her tubes being tied, she states that he “released his manhood” inside her and all she did was touch where the scar that only she could see was and smiled because she felt like she finally had control over her own body.

An example from the text that directly relates to Iriola’s liberation is as follows, “To be feminist is to be anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and anti-patriarchal because these systems function together to create inequality and maintain the status quo.” This statement directly relates with the ending of the story where Iriola is finally seen taking charge for her own life and own actions. “And I never disobeyed Mother” is how the story ends, meaning she is going to do what is right for her rather than what will please Kelemo.

To conclude, Transnational Feminism directly relates to both Iriola and Nneke in different ways.

“Cosmopolitanism” by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Cosmopolitanism can best be defined as the ideology that all human beings belong to a single community based on a shared morality.
Throughout both Growing my Hair Again and Kelemo’s Woman, Iriola and Nneke are both almost “trapped” in a certain lifestyle.

Nneke is suppose to be mourning the loss of her husband, who also happened to be very abusive towards her. One way that she is able to make herself feel happy and free, is by going to get her hair done. Her hair is almost like the one thing left that she has control over. Another thing she did in the story to make herself feel happy and free was getting her tubes tied and not telling her husband. This allowed her to have control over her own body, which meant not being able to get pregnant, which is what her husband wanted. While all this happened, while her husband was alive she still abided by everything he told her, prepared his meals and endured his awful way of treating her.

On the other hand, Iriola also tried to do things that made her happy while still doing what was expected of her. Throughout the story Kelemo is ready to go out and fight for what is right for their country and he almost forces Iriola to go as well even though she is still mourning the loss of her mother. Although she does go with Kelemo, which is fulfilling what she is suppose to do as wife, she decides to do her own thing and basically leave Kelemo behind because she needed to do what her mother told her to do. The story even ends with the line that says “and I never disobeyed my mother.”

“Kelemo’s Woman” by Molara Wood

“Kelemo’s Woman’ by Molara Wood is a short story about a young couple and tough decisions. Throughout the story Kelemo and Iriola can be seen arguing time and time again about what is going on currently in the country where they live. Kelemo is ready to be vigilant and do what he needs to do to help his country while Iriola is more hesitant and quiet due to the recent passing of her mother.

Then there is the question,, “Does Iriola truly have the freedom of choice?” In my opinion, no. I don’t believe she truly has a freedom of choice in this matter. One example from the story is, “I’m sorry, Iriola. I don’t mean to put you through this, but it’s better to be safe. What use are we to the struggle if we are killed? And you? You’re no use to your mother dead. Think about it! She would want you to get away in these circumstances; she would understand. Listen to what I am telling you!” Kelemo shook me. He spoke in short, urgent bursts. “We have to go. A contact from my student union days will be by the harbor in an hour. We’ve got to be there.”

“I cried and cried, hitting Kelemo repeatedly on the chest. He grabbed my hands and held me tighter to him.”

It may just be that he is trying to snap her back into reality after an overwhelming situation, but it also seems she is being forced into something that she thinks is a bad idea and she doesn’t want to do. Throughout the story she describes her actions as, uneasy and unsure, which is also another indicator that she doesn’t really have a say in what she is doing. She also cries out at one point that she has already sacrificed enough, which is in reference to her recently passed mother.

To conclude, for these reasons, I don’t believe she truly had the freedom of choice.

“Growing My Hair Again” Chika Unigwe

Growing My Hair Again is a story by Chika Unigwe that describes a young woman, Nneke’s, struggle with her abusive husband who has passed away.

Throughout the story we are constantly reminded of her husband Okpala’s “busy hands.” Until she further explained in very little detail what the busy hands actually symbolized, I felt a little confused. One moment where we are made aware of what is going on is when she states, “I saw flashes of lightning as Okpala pummeled me. And when he dragged me naked to the bed, all I could see was this huge darkness that started to consume me.” What Okpala is doing to Nneke becomes very apparent throughout  this entire scene of their wedding, but this quote stuck out to me most.

After reading this story, I do believe that Nneke is a moral woman. I think a lot of people have their own definition of what is means to be a “moral person” or to have morals but, in my own personal opinion she is. When it comes to domestic violence, sexual assault etc., there is no reason to blame the victim. It all goes back to the old phrase, “you have to walk a mile in someone’s shoes before you’re so quick to judge.” Imagine being in Nneke’s position, someone who most likely is stronger or more powerful than you has this strange control over you and throws themselves on you and does horrible things. Scary, right?

After a while, I think the victims become so frightened of their perpetrators they don’t want to do anything that might upset them because they are afraid of what they might to do them. It’s sad but it is reality. I believe that in Nneke and Okpala’s relationship he forced her into making people believe they were in a happy and “normal” relationship which was not the case.

For putting herself through all of this I believe Nneke was a moral woman, because sadly she didn’t have much control or was to frightened to take control of what was happening to her.

‘A Wedding in Auschwitz’ By: Rajko Djuric

A Wedding in Auschwitz by Rajko Djuric is a short story that discusses some of the horrid times during the Holocaust.

The importance of this story is to discuss and make people aware of what went on during this awful time in history. It is there to bring the narrator’s feelings to life and really capture what going through this horrendous time did to a person’s body and mind.

During the story dreams, omens, and signs are discussed throughout. This is of major importance because they help pull the reader into the story so they can actually feel what the narrator is feeling. Some examples would be, seeing her brother as a butterfly, the different clocks that were made of humans, the wedding in Auschwitz and the dreams of her parents and the devil. All of these specific portions of the story play a role in bringing  the narrator’s feelings to life. Without the mention of these instances that the narrator went through the reader would not be able to truly understand it. Of these examples, the butterfly one really grabbed my attention.

“There’s Ari! Ari! Don’t you see my brother Ari?” “No. All I see is a big yellow butterfly, but not your brother Ar…” “I don’t agree to such risky and dangerous criteria of truth. How do you know this yellow butterfly is your brother?”

“How do I know? I see his face, his nose, his eyes, his hair. I know that the human mind is a moral acrobat, but my eyes have never fooled me.”

Although, her brother may not have actually been in front of her in the form of a butterfly, her mind made her truly believe that she was seeing her brother while others didn’t believe her.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Ted Talk

The Danger of a Single Story,” a speech given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a captivating speech that discusses why only knowing a single story about someone or even something can sway the way people view it. One phrase that really caught my attention was, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” I’ve never really thought about stereotypes that way before listening to this TED Talk, it never occurred to me that maybe people are prone to thinking this way because they just don’t know any better. How can you expect someone who has never lived the way someone else has or experienced something other than what they know as “everyday life,” to be able to make any sort of judgement besides a stereotype.

I think this TED Talk is really important. I think the way Adichie explains the single story is amazing. She never talked down on people and didn’t get angry with people for not knowing. Instead, she would rather tell more stories to educate those who only know the single story. An example of this, is when she discusses a time she spoke at a university and a student assumes that all Nigerian men are physical abusers like she had written in her novel. She then states that although it would’ve never occurred to her that someone would think this way just from reading her novel, that it didn’t make her better than that student.

Having only a single story of a person leaves a lot of things unknown. You can’t truly say you know someone without hearing more than a single story about them. I think it is important to know more than this single story because, like the famous quote “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” states, you can’t jump to conclusions without really getting to know them.

To conclude, a beautiful quote from Adichie, “The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”