Vendor of Sweets – Summary Chapter 1


Chapter 1 gives us an overview of Jagan’s lifestyle and introduces the protagonist in his environment. He is in his sweets shop with the person identified as his cousin (who apparently claims cousinhood with many others in the town). The novel begins with Jagan stating an important quotation: ‘Conquer taste and you will have conquered the self.’

Then the narrator lets us know how Jagan has a framed picture of goddess Laxshmi and offers jasmine flowers, prayers and incense first thing in the morning. These fragrances mix with the smells of the sweets.

The narrator explains that Jagan was fifty five and he shaved only at intervals because he thought looking at yourself in the mirror everyday was ‘an intolerable European habit.’ He wore a loose jibba over his dhoti – spun with his own hand. He spun (thread, to make clothes) every day for an hour.

For Sandals, he used to make his own from the hide of a dead cow – he would not buy shoes as he didnt want an innocent animal to be killed for the confort of his feet. The process of making shoes was very inconvenient to the household – wife (Ambika) and son, Mali. He didn’t consider their discomfort.

The cousin knows how Jagan is hypocritic and wants to ask why Jagan should expect others to eat sweets and keep him flourishing (because Jagan maintains a very minimal diet, and brags about this to the cousin).

8 comments

    • I am grade 9 student of J/Mahajana college in Tellipalai. Who is Mr. Noble or Pa Noble? He is a one-time landlord of the Obis’. Mr. Noble is a character whose station in life has kept changing rapidly in Second Class Citizen. Before he came to the UK, Pa Noble had had a distinguished career in the Nigerian civil service. Apart from that, he was from a royal family.His arrival in England initially brings a reversal in his fortunes. Overnight, his station in life takes a hit which threatens to destroy his life. Mr. Noble undergoes a dramatic transformation becoming a childless drunkard and jester. Then the accident that fractures his shoulder comes along. Ironically, it is this misfortune that saves Mr Noble. The pension he receives and the decision he takes to buy a house and become a landlord will help to stop his downward slide toward total self-destruction.

      This tutorial will give you as much detailed information as there is to know about the character called Mr. Noble or Pa Noble in Buchi Emecheta’s novel, Second Class Citizen.To put it differently, we want to do a simplified analysis of the character and role of Mr Noble in Second Class Citizen.In the process, therefore, we shall recount in detail the events that help Mr. Noble to become a landlord in Second Class Citizen.For us to know the details of who actually Mr Noble is, we need to take a look at the social and political situation in Nigeria at the time. It was a period in the run-up to the attainment of independence status by Nigeria on October 1, 1960.Mr Noble (aka Pa Noble) is a direct product of the political situation in his native Nigeria. It was a period when Nigeria was about to gain political independence from her colonial ruler, Britain.The prospect of self-rule brought with it a promise of juicy political leadership positions for the well-educated citizens of that country.Those in the civil service, in particular, hurriedly abandoned their jobs, wives and families and travelled to the UK to study law. They hoped to acquire the qualification that would make them eligible for appointment in the new government.Sadly, however, not all of these men attained their goal for coming to the UK. A few succeeded but many were those who fell by the wayside, so to speak.

      Most of these failures chose not to go back home. Instead, they found comfort in pubs, nightclubs and in relationships with white women.Pa Noble happens to be one of these ambitious Nigerian civil servants who could not make it.

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