The Girl Who Can Summary, Theme by Ama Ata Aidoo

The Girl Who Can Summary, Theme by Ama Ata Aidoo

The Girl Who Can Summary

Adjoa is a seven year old girl who is the protagonist of the story. She is an African girl, born in the village of Hasodzi. It is a fairly fertile land compared to the rest of Africa. Though she is naive, she interrogates the societal constraints a child, especially a girl experiences while uttering words in public. Her mind is constantly busy in issues and concerns too intelligible for a girl of her age which leads to the three generations in the story – Adjoa,

Maami (mother) and Nana (grandmother) facing a conflict of opinions on a usual basis. There is no sign of the father but there is a hint that he is not a good man or possibly abandoned them. Nana is authoritative and has a firm and typical view about a woman’s role in society, that is, to be physically fit to rear healthy children.

On the other hand, Maami (addressed as Kaya by Nana) often comes out as a speechless character who is incapable of raising her voice against her mother. Adjoa is different. She harbours questions about the workings of the society but opts to keep them safe in the treasure of her mind for two reasons- primarily to avoid causing distress to her grandmother and also to be at bay from becoming a butt of jokes.

Adjoa’s thin legs trouble Nana because she thinks that this stresses their incapability to hold a solid figure for a woman giving birth. Adjoa’s physicality couples with her social movements like going to school which Nana also looks down on. Her constant criticism about Adjoa occasionally faces Maami’s snippets of courage who attempts to argue in support of Adjoa.

However, a change of perceptions creeps in when Adjoa reveals her selection for a district race. Nana’s behaviour suddenly alters and she puts in efforts to wash her granddaughter’s uniform and iron it neatly. She accompanies Adjoa for the entire week of the race in new attires which she wears only for special occasions.

When Adjoa bags the trophy, she shows it around the neighbourhood like a proud grandparent with tears of joy. The story ends with a happy realisation for both Nana and Adjoa that legs serve more purposes to a woman than just giving birth. Through this story, the author finally shows the readers that a woman’s identity is not restriced to being a mother and a wife. It should also declare her achievements, in this case, as an athlete.

The Girl Who Can About the Author Ama Ata Aidoo

Ama Ata Aidoo was a celebrated personality and also a Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic who was born in March 23 1942 in Abeadzi Kyiakor, South Central Ghana. She grew up in the Fanti royal household.

Her father, an advocate of Western education, sent her to the Wesley Girl’s High School on Cape Coast. In 1964, she enrolled at the University of Ghana in Legon, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English. During her time there, she put on her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost.

Her second play, Anowa (1970), is more impressive. It is an adaptation of a traditional Ghanaian folktale. Anowa, the heroine, rejects all suitors provided by her parents and marries for love instead.

Aidoo has written fiction, much of which deals with the tension between Western and African world views, She is also a poet, and has authored several children’s books. She is the first-ever woman writer from Ghana to get published. She won Commonwealth Writer’s Prize in 1992 for her works.

The Girl Who Can Theme

In this story, we can see the three generations. Adjoa is the narrator who is the youngest member of the family and Nana, the grandmother, is the oldest. Adjoa has things in mind for which she does not get any clear answers. There is a communication anxiety with her grandmother due to a differing set of beliefs. The grandmother believes in the traditional worldview that sees a woman in the light of motherhood alone compared to Maami and Adjoa who wish to add more feathers to their cap.

Nana’s conventionality can be linked to her lack of education and orthodox upbringing. However, Adjoa is born in a postcolonial era, thus has modern outlook towards life and so it is evident for the two worlds to clash. But the clash results positively where we can witness a change of heart in Nana after realising the real capabilities of a woman.

Running symbolises freedom and with freedom comes the power of choice as the narrator possesses certain choices that her mother and grandmother didn’t have an access to. Adjoa is not ‘only able to build his identity as an athlete but also to move away from the rigid strictures of her society. Thus she runs towards an optimistic and bright future by running away from a traditional and stereotyped past.

The Girl Who Can Title of the Story

The story ‘The Girl Who Can’ is the story of a young girl and her struggle to break free the typical concept of the society towards women. She is a girl from the modem era and her grandmother is from a different era.

Therefore their thoughts often get clashed. Her grandmother Nana, believes in the traditional worldview that sees a woman in the light of motherhood alone compared to Maami and Adjoa who wish to think differently.

Both of them try to make Nana believe in the other abilities of women apart from giving birth. However, Adjoa proves herself to Nana as an athlete and destroys her typical thinking about women. She shows her that yes she can.

She shows that her legs, though thin, can overcome all the obstacles and reach the destination perfectly. Thus it can be said that this story cherishes a woman’s success while showing the different sides of her abilities. Therefore the title is apt.

The Girl Who Can About the Story

Little Adjoa is an intelligent and ambitious girl. Like any other girl of her age, she has dreams and aspirations of her own and truly believe that anything is possible. She still isn’t introduced to the real world and so considers it as a happy and safe place. The three main characters Adjoa, Nana and Maami has their own importance.

In this story, the continued oppression of women worsened by some other women who use women’s oppression to climb the social ladder, is depicted. Nana constantly disputes and debates with Adjoa’s mother regarding Adjoa’s spindly legs. Our dear little protagonist has thin legs that have no thick muscles on them and neither does she have thick and solid hips. Nana is sceptical about the girl’s future because of this.

It is imperative to note that solid hips and thick legs exhibit biological signs of robustness which according to Nana promise fertility and strength. For Nana, and, for the entire society, the definition of a perfect and powerful woman is one who can bear children and be a perfect wife and mother. Adjoa doesn’t get it. She finds it hard to understand how can someone’s body set limits on what they can be and cannot be.

Adjoa does not feel insecure and less confident about herself as she is inquisitive and tries to find out whether what Nana believes is true or not. However, she proves Nana wrong and wins a cup in a competition. It is Adjoa’s passion for running that eventually reconnects her with Nana. Though Nana is initially sceptical of her ability to run, she finally finds herself admiring her granddaughter.

The Girl Who Can Characters

Adjoa :

She is a young girl with a modem outlook towards life. She is smart, intelligent and often questions things for which she does not get any clear answers. She is the narrator of the story. In this story, we can see how her view of life differs from the elders. She is innocent and does not know about the complexity of the human mind. Her thin legs though disappoint her grandmother create wonders in time of need and thus make her an athlete.

Maami :

Maami has not much role to play in this story. She is a hesitant and speechless character who remains static in the whole story. She loves Adjoa and supports her dreams but when it comes to save her from the disheartened comments of her own mother, she turns timid.

Nai :

Nana is the mother Maami and grandmother of Adjoa. She is an authoritative woman who loves to silence people around her, in her own exquisite style. She thinks that she is the most knowledgeable person in the house and often argues with Maami when it comes to Adjoa.

Adjoa’s thin legs displease her as thinks that this stresses their incapability to hold a solid figure for a woman giving birth. But Adjoa makes her realise that a woman’s body has more to do than just giving birth to babies. She appreciates Adjoa’s skill as a runner in the end of the story and changes her view of life.

The Girl Who Can Main Points to Remember

  • Adjoa is a little girl who is intelligent and ambitious as well.
  • Unlike her grandmother, she believes in modernity and does not bother about her thin legs.
  • Adjoa’s grandmother does not like her thin legs and tells Maami about her worry.
  • Nana is authoritative and has a firm and typical view about a woman’s role in society, that is, to be physically fit to rear healthy children.
  • Adjoa however proves herself to Nana and shows her ability as an athlete. She changes her point of view about women and also her outlook towards society.
  • The story culminates with a happy realisation for both
  • Nana and Adjoa that legs serve more purposes to a woman than just giving birth.

The Girl Who Can Annotations and Vocabulary

Struggle — To experience difficulty and make a very great effort in order to do something
Screaming — To cry or say something loudly and usually on a high note, especially because of strong emotions
Confusing — To mix up someone’s mind or ideas, or to make something difficult to understand
Comprehension — the ability to understand completely and be familiar with a situation, facts, etc.
Discuss — To talk about a subject with someone and tell each other your ideas
Weeping — The act of crying tears
Granddaughter — The daughter of your son or daughter
Calves — Especially a domestic cow or bull in its first year
Splash — If a liquid splashes or if you splash a liquid, it falls on or hits something or someone.
Disagreed — To not have the same opinion, idea, etc
Strange — Unusual and unexpected, or difficult to understand
Pretending — To behave as if something is true when you know that it is not
Borrowed — Take and use with the intention of returning it
Athlete — A person who is very good at sports or physical exercise, especially one who competes in organized events Gleaming Bright and shiny from being cleaned
Precious — Great value because of being rare, expensive, or important:
Afraid — Feeling fear, or feeling worry about the possible results of a particular situation
Acted — To behave in the stated way
Speechless — Unable to speak because you
Parade — All going in the same direction,usually as part of a public celebration of something.

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