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Confronting rising cases of domestic violence

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Confronting rising cases of domestic violence

The Spider’s Web by Dumebi Ezar Ehigiator marshals the power of literature to confront domestic violence, a phenomenon that is still too often neglected or condoned, surrounded by silence, fear and shame.

While the storyline of the novel unfolds with a captivating account of friendship among young Nigerian ladies and their love lives, it creatively weaves in problems, difficulties and challenges faced by these ladies from childhood.

The plot is full of suspense, as there are many cliff hangers which make the reader excited, guessing what is going to happen next and how it will end. The title, “The Spider’s Web”, is used to appropriately capture the protagonist, Nnena, as the Spider – and the Web, as the issues of life in which she and other ladies – Ejiro, Ochuko, Rahama and Doris – were caught up, trapped and eventually freed from in the end.

The two main victims of the domestic violence in the novel are Nnenna and Ejiro. Nnenna is, in the beginning, portrayed as weak and submissive; a sexual object and a caretaker of the house. She endures abuse inflicted on her by her husband (a clergy man) in order to provide for her parents and to protect her children from his cruelty.

The two most abused women in the novel, Nnenna and Ejiro, form a deep bond; their suffering brings them together in a strong solidarity. Through fate, they become best friends, quilting together, offering advice to each other and offering mutual aid over the years.

Besides, domestic violence, other issues addressed in this novel (that depict so much of true life) are many and diverse. Some of the current and perennial issues therein are the contrasts of hope and hopelessness, poverty and wealth, spousal rape and abuse, underage rape and sexual abuse, abortion, alcoholism, murder and manslaughter, revenge and forgiveness, betrayal, jealousy, discrimination against the girl-child, all of which represent the intention of the writer.

The front cover has a photo of the face of a young woman, with some splashes of blood and two spiders caught up in a spider’s web. In a total of 371 pages, 48 brief chapters, the writer takes the reader through a journey of how the aforementioned characters and problems falsely wrapped in the garb of religious, cultural and social practices malpractices, affect each character, and by extension, every one of us.

As the first half of the 48 chapters present an insider perspective, one that is an on-the-spot account in the heat of domestic violence among other issues, the second half portrays a psychological landscape of women who continue to endure abuse, sometimes at the cost of their lives, while others resist in a variety of ways.

The novel is part-romance, with the underlying pervasive theme that “True love conquers all”. It is also part-inspirational, because the round characters, in spite of the odds and difficulties they face in the web of life, their personal flaws and weaknesses, emerge victors in the end.

The book can appropriately be classified as “fact/fiction” hybrid. The story takes place in the 21st century suburban Africa (Asaba, Nigeria). The language is simple. She is neither wordy nor pompous, the language flows unaffectedly.

The writer is a consummate storyteller. The novel is an original piece of itself. Readers should be ready to be soaked into an experience that will awake lasting crave for equity among genders and the end of domestic violence.

The style is lucid, smooth and racy, easy to read and very descriptive. The novel is significant to everyone – male, female, child, teachers, psychologists, church leaders, sociologists, etc. – because it raises many serious issues but in a lighthearted manner.

It is a fantastic novel worthy of reading. It has a good quality and I recommend for everyone to buy copies. It, however, achieves the aim of forcing us to think and make a paradigm shift, in order to make a difference in the fight against domestic violence, and all forms of discrimination against the Nigerian woman and girl-child. What affects one, affects us all

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