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Throughout the novel, Ali and Esi are constantly traveling the
continent and the globe. They are cosmopolitan figures, worldly in their
knowledge of life and its variety of opportunities. Esi meets Ali while
trying to finalize travel arrangements for work, while Ali has made a life
out of traveling and assisting others in doing the same. The constant travel
in Ali’s and Esi’s lives serves as a reminder of the degree to which each
character is transient. Esi and Ali leave the country, their marriages, and,
eventually, each other. From a young age, Ali has been a traveler like his
merchant father. He continues this tradition in his profession and in his
relationships. He travels from one woman to the next. He treats his wives
much the same as he would treat any one of the destinations he frequently
Brief statements that are written to resemble the tone and nature of
African proverbs are inserted throughout the narrative. The proverbs serve
several important rhetorical functions. They remind the reader of the
African context in which the novel is written, and as such, serve as a
bridge between African and Western literary traditions. The proverb is a
traditional literary device used in African cultures to share wisdom and
culture. By incorporating them into her novel, Aidoo is reasserting the
value and function of African literary traditions in a genre—the fictional
novel—which arose out of Western culture.
Esi and Opokuya’s friendship is the most stable and equitable
relationship in the novel. The two women treat each other as equals, and it
is evident that they can speak freely and openly to each other in a way that
they never do with either one of their husbands. For Esi, her friendship
with Opokuya is also the most stable relationship that she has with anyone
outside of her family. After leaving Oko and eventually Ali, Opokuya still
remains. At the end of the novel, Opokuya’s husband begins to kiss Esi, and
in that moment, Esi is reminded of her relationship with Opokuya. The
thought is enough to draw her back into reality such that she moves away
Ace your assignments with our guide to Changes: A Love Story!