Is Esi too an African woman? She not only is, but there are plenty of them around these days. . . these days. . . these days.

Esi’s husband, Oko, has these thoughts in the first few pages of the novel as he watches his wife from bed. In his mind, the fact that the house in which they live is a benefit of her job, not his. This causes him to feel insecure about their relationship and his role as a man in his household. He even wonders if, given her accomplishments and dedication to her career, she can still be considered an African woman. Compared to the women who raised Oko, Esi’s independence is startling and even unthinkable. Nonetheless, Oko answers his own question regarding Esi’s African identity. He knows that she is still an African woman despite gaining independence from the men in her life. There is a strong sense of nostalgia implied in Oko’s thoughts by the series of ellipses surrounding the words “these days.” In part, this is nostalgia for an era in which women were relegated to the household while men were responsible for earning a living. In that bygone era, Oko would not have felt so threatened and emasculated. Immediately following this thought, Oko tells Esi that his friends are beginning to mock him for not being a man, and shortly afterwards, he proceeds to rape her.