Cultural alienation and exploitation: The immigrant experience in Chimamanda Adichie’s “Arrangers of marriage”

Published: June 2019

Authors:  Itang Ede Egbung & Winnie Zana Akpagu

About Authors:  Department of English and Literary Studies. University of Calabar, Calabar

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Africans who desire universal acceptability in the Western world find themselves culturally alienated from their African root. This alienation leads to loss of identity and individuality in language, tradition, customs, values, beliefs, food and naming of the African people. Language is a vehicle of culture and it is influenced by culture; and naming gives a person individuality and identity. The loss of one’s indigenous name symbolizes his/her complete alienation psychologically from his/her fatherland. This paper observes that the alienated Africans find themselves in the web of multi-dimensional exploitation. Using the post-colonial theory in Chimamanda Adichie’s “Arrangers of Marriage”, a short story in the collection, The Thing Around Your Neck, this paper argues that the desire of the immigrants to be accepted in the American society compel them to relinquish their African identity and culture by abandoning their African names and language; and assuming American ones thereby exposing themselves to psychological cultural alienation which prevents them from achieving cultural identity, personality and individuality. The paper concludes that knowledge of one’s language enhances cultural connectivity; therefore, Africans should resist cultural alienation and should rather cherish their values which are not inferior to Western values.

Keywords: Alienation, Culture, Exploitation, Immigrant