Of Difficult Mothers and Rebellious Daughters: Investigating the Electra Complex in Contemporary Nigerian Feminist Fiction
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sefi Atta and Lola Shoneyin are undoubtedly three of the most celebrated feminist novelists in the contemporary Nigerian literature. These three women-writers have one thing in common – each has written at least a novel in which she employs the usual problematic relations between a mother figure and a daughter as a means of exploring feminism – inflected issues such as identity-construction, subjecthood, and patriarchy, etc. I am making reference to Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, Atta’s Everything Good Will Come and Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. These novelists thematize in various ways albeit unconsciously the Electra complex. This paper argues that it seems something of a paradox that these women – novelists in engaging in feminist critiques of patriarchy, should to some extent appear to do so through the agency of the difficult relationship between a mother-figure and a daughter even when no psychological exploration in the delineation of these characters appears to be intended in these novels. The paper aims to draw attention to each of these writers’ representation of certain aspects of the relations between the female protagonist of their respective novels, who appears to embody the novelist’s feminist values, and her parents, especially to the uneasy tensions that seem to exist between them.
Keywords: Patriarchy, Feminism, The Electra Complex, The Symbolic Realm, The Unconscious