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1.1. Background of the Study
The infidelity of men in marriage institution is on the increase in modern society. This can be seen in literary works of women expressing deep concern about this milieu. The marriage institution which used to be a sacred union in the olden days is no longer sacred. Marriage occurs in every known culture – so, too, does infidelity. Estimates of infidelity among American married couples range from 26% to 75% (Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Kebhard, 2009). Infidelity is not confined to American or even to Western marriages. In a study of 160 cultures, infidelity was the most frequently cited reason for divorce (Betzig, 2000). Infidelity, contrary to what most people assume, is neither rare nor exclusively male behaviour nor is it certain to end the marriage. In fact, almost a third of all marriages may need to confront and deal with the aftermath of extramarital affairs. Women’s infidelity statistics are swiftly catching up to those of men. Infidelity has become an equal opportunity sphere. More bad news is that Internet or online affairs have become extremely prevalent and some claim that it pose one of the biggest threats to modern marriages. The good news is that extramarital affairs are survivable and marriages can even grow stronger when the couple deals constructively with the affair by facing it, apologizing and ultimately forgiving or simply accepting it.
In Africa, men have imbibed a culture of having more than one wife, they see it as a pride. In other cultures like the Islamic culture, to have more than one wife or many sex partners is actually part of a practiced tradition. There are several cases of senators or highly placed people in Nigeria who have engaged in different forms of unfaithfulness. This ranges from keeping concubines, contracting secret marriages and having secret extra marital affairs outside marriages.
Long before the modern era, infidelity was a recurrent element in literature and art. History is laced with accounts of faithlessness (Ofer, 2015). The Ten Commandments devotes a specific commandment to it. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex.20:14). King David had an affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11). Homer’s Iliad describes the affair of Helen of Troy, and the list goes on. Works, such as Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1877), Flaubert’s Madam Bovary (1856), Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter ¬(1995), Henry James’ The Golden Bowl(2000) are prime examples.
The discovery or disclosure of infidelity outside of a committed relationship often leads to emotional havoc for individuals and conflict between members of the committed relationship, regularly ending in dissolution of important interpersonal connections. Involvement in romantic relationships outside of one’s active committed relationship has also been reported to result in, among other things, a sense of relational betrayal (Allen et al., 2005). Couples who experienced secrecy and betrayal associated with marital infidelity have seen their personal and social expectations for commitment tested. The emotional turmoil and relational ramifications of extra-relational involvement (ERI) are issues therapists confront regularly in their clinical practices (O’Leary, 2005). ERI has been and continues to be a confusing, difficult, and particularly frustrating experience for both couples and for clinicians who carry their personal fears or values related to infidelity into treatment. Yet, in spite of the negative emotions experienced when addressing infidelity within contemporary society, there has been interest in the occurrence of infidelity and its consequences. For the public, curiosity with ERI has resided more in the distasteful details of infidelity, which have ranged in severity from emotional trauma to crimes of passion.
Infidelity of men in marriage institution is becoming increasingly noted in clinical and research literature, media as well as the popular press. Yet the ramifications of infidelity on women and how they have reacted and will react are rarely discussed, much less researched. This gap in the research illustrates a general lack of knowledge of women’s views on a topic that may hold deep significance in their lives (Epstein & Guttman, 2004).
Some men have it as a tradition to marry as many wives as they can. They feel that women are objects which they can possess as much as they want. Since the days of old, a man can marry as many wives as he wishes: that was the nature of infidelity. Today’s man sees marrying so many wives as an act of infidelity to the wife, but he sees nothing wrong in flirting around with other women outside the marriage institution. Getting married to so many wives is expensive and stressful, therefore, some of the men folks resolve to keeping concubines and mistresses outside their matrimonial homes: reducing these concubines to objects of gratification. This has become unbearable for the African women and therefore, they have decided that enough is enough by making their voices heard.
With the above deliberation, this research work seeks to revolve around the infidelity of men in marriage institutions and the reactions of women to this canker worm which has dominated today’s marriages. To attain this, the researcher uses Beasie Heads The Collector of Treasures as the primary text for the analysis.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
The domination of men has continued to be one of the most discussed issues in most feminist texts today. In African society, women are seen as objects of satisfying sexual urge by men and are weaker vessels, hence they are treated as such. Women are reduced to objects of possession and the men folks in the African context feel it is good to possess these items as many as possible for the gratification of their sexual desires. They see themselves as superior to the women therefore they do whatever they feel is good for them even if it is to the detriment of the women.
The infidelity of men in today’s world, especially in African society, where a man can marry as much and possess as many women as he wants. This, to a large extent can be seen as an inherited phenomenon – right from pre-colonial society, men used to marry as many wives as they wanted. Today, infidelity by men has taken a more civilized dimension: this is no difference with the marriage institution where “Today’s men have taken different forms of infidelity thereby rendering the commitment of marriage void. They prefer to keep concubines and mistresses outside their matrimonial homes. This at times leads to abandoning of the legal wife or creating unnecessary fights in the home. The wife at home is always at the receiving end as she sees no money for food, gets sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS (which is prevalent in the world today) as a result of her husband’s infidelity.
This project therefore seeks to critically examine the issue of infidelity in marriage and women’s reactions to such in modern society, using Bessie Heads The Collector Treasures to encourage women to rise to this challenge and assert themselves.
1.3. Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to look at the way women are portrayed in the society by the men. It is also aimed at analyzing how women react differently to the unfaithfulness of men in the African setting and to exhume the effects of men’s unfaithfulness in marriages. The study also evaluates how the writer has tried to resolve the various acts of unfaithfulness in the text and apply such to modern society. The study is also meant to proffer other possible ways of ensuring happy married life of couples.
1.4. Significance of the Study
This research is significant especially now that society is drifting towards damnation as a result of moral and societal decadence occasioned by modernism. This has also become necessary with the advent of HIV/AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) which are ravaging societies. It is therefore, necessary for the human society, especially women, to be sensitized to avert the looming calamity that affects mostly the women. It is in view of these negative consequences on women that this researcher seeks to educate society using Beasie Head’s novel.
Parents will also benefit from this study as they will train and advise their children on the dangers of infidelity when they grow up as adults.
1.5. Scope and Limitation of the Study
The research work is based on the infidelity of men in marriage institution in Beasie Heads’ Collector of Treasures. Due to time and financial constraints, the research work will be limited to this topic and the text in question.
1.6. Methodology
The method of data collection and analysis employed for this research is basically textual analysis of the primary text and other materials that are related to this study. This will involve the use of the college library for books, novel, journals, magazines, periodicals and other related materials. The researcher will also make use of the internet for sources of materials.
1.7. Contextual Definition of Terms
Infidelity: It is the act of having an affair or attaching emotions to someone other than your wife or partner. This also refer to disloyalty, non-adherence to obligations, duties and promises.
Marriage: It is legal and social contract between man and woman that unite their lives legally, economically and emotionally..
1.8. Author’s Biography
Bessie Head is one of the best-known African woman writers who wrote in English. She was born Bessie Amelia Emery in a mental hospital in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on July 6, 1937. Her mother came from a white family of Scottish descent that owned racehorses. She was attracted to one of the black grooms, who became the father of her daughter. The mother was judged insane because of this liaison and was committed to the mental asylum where Bessie was born. The child was given to a white Afrikaner family for adoption but was returned because she was not fully white. She was later accepted by a black family, with whom she lived until she was thirteen years old. She was then moved to a mission orphanage in Durban, later attending the Ubilo Road High School. She earned a primary-school teaching certificate at eighteen, left the orphanage, and began to teach in Durban. After two years of teaching, she left to become a journalist at Drum Publications in Johannesburg.
Head became active in politics in the 1960’s and joined the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). She married Harold Head in 1961, and they had one son. They divorced in 1964, and Bessie Head, after arrest and imprisonment and threats of sexual molestation from Afrikaner authorities, fled with her son to Botswana, a neighboring country not under the yoke of apartheid. She lived in the village of Serowe as an alien refugee. At this point, she gave up political activism and functioned as a schoolteacher and an unpaid agricultural worker. (She was refused Botswanan citizenship when she applied in 1977, but it was later granted.) The traumas of exile and relocation resulted in a nervous breakdown. Recovering, Head later wrote A Question of Power, a novel in which the protagonist has experiences similar to Head’s own. All of her principal writing was done in Serowe. She made the village her home, becoming an observer and interpreter of its folk tradition and of contemporary village life, projecting the village as a microcosm of rural Africa.
Head’s first novel, When Rain Clouds Gather, was written while the experiences of apartheid and exile were still foremost in her mind. It is a sensitive account of the alienation of the South African refugee and a discussion of the options that are available to such a person. The novel is not only about apartheid: It also emphasizes the responsibility of individuals to order the chaos within their own minds as a precondition to accepting the peace that an agricultural community can provide. By the time she was writing Maru, Head was more deeply involved in the Serowe society and was disturbed by the abuse of tribal power within traditional African society. The situation of the Masarwas, outcasts and slaves in the African society, is used to comment on all.
The Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales is volume consisting of thirteen short stories of village life, specifically of the village life Head observed during thirteen years of exile in Serowe. They partly chronicle the social history of the village, although that is much more systematically done in Serowe: Village of the Rain Wind (1981); more particularly, they explore the conflicts around the changing status and identity of women in rural African society. They are thus susceptible to a thoroughgoing feminist analysis, even though Bessie Head denied she was a feminist. The resulting sophisticated analyses often seem at odds with the studied simplicity of Head’s technique, which is closely modeled on traditional oral storytelling.
1.9. Theoretical Framework
The theoretical framework of this research is feminism. Feminism as a social and literary theory, seeks to promote the rights of women. As a literary theory, feminism evaluates the portrayal of the feminine gender in modern literary texts.


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