The Ibo people of Nigeria had different views than the people in the U.S. during the
1970s. The story The Bride Price is set in Ibuza, Nigeria. Akunna, the protagonist, and her brother lost their father resulting in their mother, Ma Blackie,moving from the city to the countryside, Ibuza. She then marries her husband’s brother, Okonkwo. In Ibuza, Akunna finds the love of her life, Chike, a descendant of a slave family. The tradition in Ibuza is that, if a man wants to marry a woman, they have to pay a bride price, and if they don’t the women will die after they have their first child. Akunna and Chike go against these traditions, which leads to
Akunna fearing death. Females and descendents of slaves are looked down upon in the society of Nigeria. Through the characterizations of Akunna, Chike, and Ma Blackie the author portrays that gender and heritage are factors that may unnecessarily limit one's options in life.
Akunna is a young and smart girl that attracts men because she possesses an innocent quality. Even though she’s smart, she’s used as an object to marry and the money from her bride price is used to pay for her brother’s education. An example of this is “‘...They will marry her off very quickly in order to get enough money to pay Nnanndo’s school fees’” (38). Akunna’s aunt is saying that her bride price will be used to pay Nnanndo’s school fees because he needs to be educated since he’s a man. Okonkwo, Akunna’s stepfather says, “‘Don’t you know I hope to become an Obi and take the title one day?...Their bride prices will come to me. You see the trend today the educated girls fetch more money’” (75). Okonkwo wants to become an Obi and he’s
going to need a large amount of money. To do that, he’s letting Akunna finish school so she can fetch a higher bride price and give it to Okonkwo. Another example that the author states is,
“She could never return to Ibuza because she had committed an abomination...the girl still belonged to Okoboshi” (154). Emecheta is stating that Akunna can’t return to Ibuza because she perpetrated an act that was disgraceful to her family. But Akunna still “belonged” to Okoboshi since he cut off a strand of her hair. Emecheta uses the word ‘belonged’ to say that Akunna is still Okoboshi’s wife, when she could’ve used another word, for example, ‘affiliation.’ From this, we can see that Emecheta is describing Akunna as an object that belongs to Okoboshi.
Even though Akunna left Ibuza and can never come back, she still is Okoboshi’s wife unless he wants to divorce her. Through Akunna’s characterizations, we can see that men rule the women.
In Africa during the 1970’s, there weren’t many slaves, but there were a lot of descendants of slaves. In The Bride Price, the Ofulue family is looked down upon in Ibuza since they are descendents of slaves. Chike Ofulue wants to marry Akunna, but is rejected by her family because his ancestors were slaves. An example of this is, “‘Akunna, Chike Ofulue is only a friend. You must remember that. Now that you have grown, that friendship must gradually die’” (116). Okonkwo wants Akunna and Chike’s relationship to end because he doesn’t want her to bring disgrace to the family since Chike Ofulue is from a slave family. The Ofulue family is rich, and Chike is handsome, but the Ibo people ignored all of that. A quote that explains this is, “He was handsome and though women knew that he came from an “oshu” family, a slave family, they pretended not to see it...Did not his halfbrothers and sisters own the biggest and longest cars the town of Ibuza had ever seen?” (83). The Ibo people understands the fact that the
Ofulue family is rich with the longest and biggest cars in Ibuza. Also Chike is handsome, but the
Ibo people ignore all of that because the Ofulue family is a slave family. So if you come from a slave family, no matter how rich and handsome the family is,