Destination England: Buchi Emecheta's Second Class Citizen and Caryl Phillips's The Final Passage

Erol B.

NEOHELICON, vol.46, no.2, pp.591-599, 2019 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 46 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11059-019-00492-3
  • Journal Name: NEOHELICON
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.591-599
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Although Buchi Emecheta's Second Class Citizen and Caryl Phillips's The Final Passage were written ten years apart they display many similarities. Both of the novels depict female protagonists, Adah and Leila respectively, who were born and bred in former British colonies, namely Nigeria and St. Kitts, who find themselves benefiting from the British colonial education system. Both heroines end up in relations with less qualified and low achiever, irresponsible husbands and are doubly colonised in a sense. The destination of both these female figures is England "the mother country" where they hope to realise dreams, live better lives as preached to them by the colonial education system. These two heroines who also bear children, do reach their geographic destinations and both in the adaptation process break free from their unsuccessful marriage bondage. From this point onward although both do manage to survive in their new homelands, the similarities seem to end. Adah who is more ambitious, builds herself and her children a new life in London, working and studying and adapting well to the new country, Leila on the other hand barely survives. For Adah London does become the land of freedom, achievements and self realisation, but Leila is weighed down by many factors and the new country is different than that she had imagined in many ways such as climate, life style and culture which are also discouraging for quite a number of immigrants arriving in England. Leila feels disillusioned and finds herself constantly yearning for her former home and expressing her wish to return there one day. Buchi Emecheta's partly autobiographic novel depicts a success story in her desired destination, Caryl Phillips's novel displays the grim reality of the coin's other side where the immigrant experiences disillusionment, dissatisfaction in what the mother country provides.