The struggles of women have always been a hot topic for discussion in society, even in social media. Women have been suppressed and oppressed for years and centuries. They are objectified and sexualisied to the point of being treated nothing more than beings solely for men’s pleasure. Even though all women were treated badly, black women on the other hand receive hell-level of discrimination and struggles. They were treated as slaves, sex slaves, or to be more correct, they are treated less than animals. The oppression they received were far too traumatising that the impacts of it are still being felt by their future lineage. Various authors, directors, poets, musicians and many more artisans try to deliver the struggles and voices of these black women to the public. Therefore, here are some recommendations on novels, with the focus on black women as their themes, that you should definitely read!
1. Kehinde By Buchi Emecheta
Kehinde was written by Buchi Emecheta in 1994. The novel is about Kehinde Okolo, a Nigerian woman who travelled to England with her husband Albert. They have two children, a son and a daughter. They were also expecting one more since Kehinde is pregnant. However, in England, Albert does not have any power as Kehinde is the family breadwinner. She works as an accountant and also has a degree. Meanwhile, Albert works only at a convenient store. Albert felt insecure thus forcing Kehinde to go back to Nigeria with him and the children. He even forced Kehinde to abort the child since she cannot go back if she is pregnant. Kehinder followed everything that Albert as it is a Nigerian custom that the wife serves the husband.
Kehinde stayed back in England as she needed to sell their house and quit her job while her husband went back to Nigeria with their children first. Shockingly, Kehinde discovered that her husband married another girl after she returned to Nigeria. Overrun with hatred towards her culture, she ran back to Nigeria. She later lives her life as she wants and has a younger boyfriend even though she is still “married” with Albert. This novel is actually an autobiography of the author’s life. We can see the struggles Kehinde, the main character, went through and truly can be an inspirational novel for all of us.
2. Beloved By Toni Morisson
This novel by Toni Morisson is actually inspired by the true story of Margaret Garner’s life, a black woman who killed her own daughter in order to not let them become a slave. Beloved focuses on one of the main characters, Sethe, who lives with her eighteen years old daughter, Denver, in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a former slave. Her mother-in-law passed away the same week where her sons ran away from the house. It is believed that the house was haunted, hence her sons ran away. Later, she met Paul D, a fellow slave, and they fell in love. Paul D’s existence brings about some light in the house as he brings Denver out from the house. Denver was always stuck in the house throughout the 18 years of her life. However, one day a mysterious girl appeared in front of their house.
The girl, called herself Beloved, is believed to be the personification of Sethe’s dead daughter as the story of Sethe is based on Margaret Garner. Beloved brought chaos upon the house until Paul D ran away. Denver then forced herself to ask for help. The community later helped them and Beloved was then gone. Paul D then returned and comforted the depressed Sethe. This story will reignite the feelings of anger inside you when you read it. To kill one’s own child is depressing more than dying. The sacrifice of a mother to save her children from becoming slaves is truly motivating yet sad.
3. The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne
The scarlet letter is a famous novel written by Natahiel Hawthorne. The novel revolves around Hester Prynne, who was ridiculed and punished for committing adultery. This is because Hester moved into Boston with her husband. But her husband went first and never arrived. Assuming her husband is dead, she fell in love with someone else and later had a daughter named Pearl. The society punished her because in their eyes, she is still married to her husband. She was paraded along the town while wearing a cloth that has the scarlet letter A embodied on it because she committed adultery and does not want to reveal the name of the man who she slept with.
Her husband who is later shown alive, came to Boston with a new name. He called himself Roger Chillingworth and became a doctor to seek revenge on the man who slept with his wife. Chillingworth looks after Arthur Dimmesdale, the town’s father, who is sick. It is revealed later that Dimmesdale is Hester’s lover. The novel ends with Dimmesdale proclaiming his love for Hester on the scaffold and later died. The novel ends with Hester living her life peacefully while her daughter is married to an European. The sacrifice Hester made by not telling the town her lover’s name is an act out of her love for him. Her love for Dimmesdale and Pearl made her strong enough to live and not fall toward the punishment and embarrassment she received.
To conclude, these three novels are perfect for those who want to read on the struggles that black women received throughout their life. Kehinde is an auto-biography which means it is half true. The scarlet letter is a pure fiction but Beloved is inspired by a true story. These novels will teach you different morals and will inspire you throughout your life.
Written by: Muhammad Mustaqim Abdul Rahman