Summary of Flora Nwapa’s “Women are Different”

Women are Different by Flora Nwapa embodies the new vision of women and their worldviews and feminist awakening.

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Women are Different cover
Women are Different by Flora Nwapa
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Women are Different by Flora Nwapa embodies the new vision of women and their worldviews and feminist awakening.

The author explores the novel consciousness by creating a seemingly radical female protagonist whose frenetic quests for liberation tend to subvert the tenets upon which African morals, culture and veritable ideas are established.

In the novel, Nwapa creates female protagonists who truly represent her vision of different women in a new era of female awakening; women who divorce their men at the slightest provocation, trade their bodies as prostitutes and refuse to marry; eomen who are free to do just as they please.

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Women are Different is divided into nine chapters. This structural technique enables the reader grapple with the changes of an era: the growth and transition of women like Agnes, Rose, Dora and Comfort, from the age of innocence, fantasies and limitations, to a period of awareness, realities and independence.

Summary of Women are Different

From chapter one to three, the novelist presents the ordeals and anxieties surrounding a woman’s determination to break away from the shackles of illiteracy and its several deformations. Thus, we see the “three musketeers” (Rose, Agnes and Dora) struggling to pass their examination.

While in school, they were under the moral surveillance of Miss Hill. The life of these girls after school reflects these years. They really turned out to be greedy, undignified women.

The remaining six chapters show the life of the girls as women. They have become free from Miss Hill’s control. They are now better informed about their rights and liberties, and are bent on exercising them without fear.

Agnes marries Mr Egemba, bears him four children, falls in love with Ayo Dele and divorces her husband.

Dora marries Chris but divorces him after a while.

Rose refuses to marry after so many disappointments.

Comfort marries because of money.

Zizi (Elizabeth) becomes a drug pusher, robber and prostitute.

Chinwe becomes a professional prostitute whose natural inclination is to snatch other women’s husband to enrich herself.

Chapter By Chapter Summary of Flora Nwapa’s “Women are Different”

Chapter 1 Summary of “Women are Different”

This chapter buzzes with activity. From writing the entrance exams to Archdeacon Crowther Memorial, to eating smuggled food in the dormitory, seeing her period and participating in a debate competition, Rose’s first few weeks in school are eventful.

She also meets Dora and Agnes. The trio becomes known as the three musketeers.

Also, the presence of the loud-mouthed Comfort and Miss Hill makes the experience of adapting to a new environment more bearable and interesting.

Chapter 2 Summary

In this chapter, the three musketeers and Comfort attract Miss Hill’s attention with their increased exchange of letters with boys from the grammar school and even beyond as it is in Comfort’s case.

Rose and Dora also fantasize about life as wives, to Ernest and Chris respectively, while Miss Hill discovers that Agnes is to be married off to an older man soon.

The chapter is capped off with the prefects’ hunger strike, which angers the principal, and the revelation that Susy is the root cause of the problem.

Chapter 3 Summary of “Women are Different”

Chapter 3 of Women are Different is filled with nostalgia and farewells, as Miss Hill announces her departure from the school.

The girls give her a befitting send-off by organizing an ’Evening of Events,’ where they re-enact the entire ten years of their school.

There are also undertones of preparation in this chapter, as the girls prepare to write their Cambridge School Certificate Examinations, and Agnes, prepares for her wedding.

Women are Different cover
Women are Different by Flora Nwapa

Chapter 4 Summary

Here, we follow the trajectory of Agnes as a married woman. She is forced to marry an older man who we later realise is her stepmother’s lover. Yet, this does not stop her from pursuing her dreams of furthering her education.

Along the way, she meets and falls in love with Ayo Dele who guides her on this path until his death, which leaves her and her four children stranded.

However, fate is kind to her and she ends up with a good paying job with employee benefits in Enugu and later as an executive in Lagos.

Chapter 5 Summary of “Women are Different”

Chapter 5 of Women are Different traces Dora’s and Chris’ lives as a married couple.

While Dora is the industrious worker and subservient wife, Chris is the laid-back father and husband, who thrives in collecting bribes, which he keeps a secret from his wife.

After refusing to ‘work’ for her and is transferred as a punitive measure, he flees from the country, to study Law in London, abandoning his family.

Eventually, she divorces him after realising that he’s a betrayer and a fraudster. Dora subsequently meets Tunde.

Chapter 6 Summary

Rose’s own story takes on a different turn from the other two musketeers, being the only one who hasn’t tasted life as a married woman.

She longs for the stability that marriage brings and children but finds both in neither Mark, who marries her then dupes her, or Olu, who only uses her as a fling.

After both failures, Ernest, who ghosted her, returns from London. He narrates his ordeal and asks her to marry him. Rose then asks Ernest to give her time to decide on a response.

Chapter 7 Summary of “Women are Different”

In this chapter, Rose and Dora meet up and catch up on old gist, and even exchange new information.

Dora seeks Rose’s advice on what to do about Tunde’s proposal, while Rose laments about her marital status.

Rose also discovers that Ernest has moved on with another woman.

At Dora’s plea, Rose gives Dora’s daughter, Chinwe, advice on how to handle her broken marriage.

Chapter 8 Summary

Chinwe goes from marrying for wealth to becoming an independent business woman, who divorces her first husband because of his sense of entitlement to her. This attitude was unheard of during that time, and it troubles her mother, Dora, and her aunty Rose.

Ernest and Agnes’ daughter, Zizi, are arrested because they are caught with suitcases of hard drugs at Heathrow Airport.

Later, Rose writes to Dora. She considers visiting a palmist to turn her fortune around.

Chapter 9 Summary of “Women are Different”

The story comes to a full circle as Chris returns home to his wife and children; Zizi and Theo agreeably part ways; and Rose, who by fate is brought to see Dora by Tunde, is linked up with him.

However, Dora soon realises that Tunde is not the man for her, and ponders on the fact that she has been alone since she left school.

Unlike those around her who have each other, however messed up their relationships, she has no one in that sense and she feels that maybe she is destined to be alone.

Memorable Quotes

Quotes in Women are Different

We have equally compiled memorable quotes from Nwapa’s novel, Women are Different. Some of these expressions highlight the thematic preoccupation of the text in one way or the other. They also project the opinions and worldviews of some of the characters in the novel.

Highlighted below are the ones we compiled:

  1. “To go Lagos no hard, na to return” (Chapter 1, p. 5).
  2. “Rose, you reply with a sentence. When I ask you how much money you have, you don’t say ten shillings, you say, “I have ten shillings” (Chapter 1, p. 9-10).
  3. “Not quite, I have my eyes wide open that’s all, and I do not pretend like other girls.” (Chapter 2, p. 30).
  4. “Love? I want to marry someone who will take care of me. I want to marry a rich man. Love my foot” (Chapter 2, p. 30).
  5. ‘Look, don’t distract us. If you don’t want to read, go and sleep. Didn’t you say some time ago that your ambition was to get your certificate, work for two or three years and hook a man . . .” (Chapter 3, p. 41).
  6. “If I receive Chris’ letter and I don’t read it immediately, the world standstill.” (Chapter 3, p. 44).
  7. “Marry her off as soon as possible, so she will be busy with her own family and won’t bother you with yours.” (Chapter 4, p. 52).
  8. “How do you think I paid for the presents I sent you while you were in school?” (Chapter 5, p. 70).
  9. “I have heard about you. Warn her. If she does not leave my husband alone. I’ll kill her, by Jove, I’ll kill her. And . . .” (Chapter 6, p. 89).
  10. “No, you are not. But the man they burnt to death at Agege a few weeks ago was not a politician. His was a case of mistaken identity.” (Chapter 6, p. 90).
  11. “Man no die I no rotten.” (Chapter 7, p. 98).
  12. “If husbands run around with other men’s wives, why should not their wives do the same?” (Chapter 7, p. 100).
  13. “Thank you. Wipe away your tears. Interesting I have none to shed.” (Chapter 8, p. 120).
  14. “My late wife whom I killed in a ghastly motor accident taught me how to cook.” (Chapter 9, p. 138).

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