Analysis Of Purple Hibiscus By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

Characters

Papa

“It landed on Jaja first, across his shoulder, Then Mama raised her hands as it landed on her upper arm, which was covered by the puffy sequined sleeve of her church blouse. I put the bowl down just as it landed on my back… muttering that the devil would not win” .

Papa is not sympathetic to any situation. If the children defy his wishes in anyway, violence follows.

“‘You didn’t put in your best this term. You came second because you chose to.’ His eyes were deep and sad. I wanted to touch his face, to run my hands over his rubbery cheeks. There were stories in his eyes that I’d never know” Papa only expects the best from his children, and punishes them for anything else.

Kambili

“I looked up to find Father Amadi’s eyes on me, and suddenly I could not lick the ube flesh from the skin… I looked down at my corn. I wanted to say I was sorry that I did not smile or laugh, but my words would not come, and for a while even my ears could hear nothing”/Kambili illustrates her affection towards Father Amadi and her refusal to speak her feelings to others at the beginning of the book.

“I would focus on his lips, the movement, and sometimes I wanted to stay like that forever, listening to his voice, to the important things that he said… Papa smiled, and I wished that I had said that before Jaja did”. Despite the abuse, Kambili only wanted to please Papa and make him proud.

Aunt Ifeoma

“I followed Amaka back to the kitchen and watched her slice and fry the plantains… Aunt Ifeoma asked Obiora to set the table. ‘Today we’ll treat Kambili and Jaja as guests , but from tomorrow they’ll be family and join in work”. Aunt Ifeoma sees Kambili and Jaja as equals to them, regardless of their wealth.

“Papa called that evening, as we sat around the kerosene lamp on the verandah. Aunty Ifeoma answered the phone and came out to tell Mama wo it was. ‘I hung up. I told him I would not let you come to the phone’”. Aunt Ifeoma cares for Mama and the children and wants to protect them from Papa’s wrath.

Jaja

“Jaja did not wait for their questions; he told them he had used rat poison, that he had put it in Papa’s tea. They allowed him to change his shirt before they took him away”.

Jaja is upset that he could not protect Mama before, so he does not hesitate to take the blame for killing Papa. “It was a double blow. I staggered. It was as if my calves had sacks of dry beans attached to them. Aunty Ifeoma asked for Jaja, and I almost tripped, nearly fell to the floor, as I went to his room to call him. After Jaja talked to Aunt Ifeoma, he put down the phone and said, ‘We are going to Nsukka today. We will spend Easter in Nsukka’”. Jaja grows into a parental figure for Kambili, taking charge and demanding that they’d be sent to Nsukka.

Symbolism

Purple Hibiscus

“Jaja’s defiance seemed to me now like Aunty Ifeoma’s experimental purple hibiscus: rare, fragrant with the undertones of freedom, a different kind of freedom from the one the crowds waving green leaves chanted at Government Square after the coup. A freedom to be, to do.” The Purple Hibiscus symbolizes defiance in the book. The flowers were given to Jaja by Aunt Ifeoma to plant in their home garden to remind them of the freedom found in Nsukka.

Figurines

“It cracked the top shelf, swept the beige, finger-sized ceramic figurines of ballet dancers in various contorted postures to the hard floor and then landed after them. Or rather it landed on their many pieces”. The figurines symbolized submission within the family. As the figurines were broken, the family shattered as well, fueling Jaja’s rebellion against Papa.

Conflicts

Kambili v. Amaka

“‘Aunty, there’s no water to flush the toilet’…[Amaka] ‘I’m sure that back home you flush every hour, just to keep the water fresh, but we don’t do that here’ “. Amaka often antagonized Kambili for being wealthy, furthering the separation between Kambili and Aunt Ifeoma’s children.

Papa Eugene v. Jaja

“‘You cannot stop receiving the body of our lord. It is death, you know that.’ ‘Then I will die.’ Fear had darkened Jaja’s eyes to the color of coal tar, but he looked Papa in the face now. ‘Then I will die, Papa’”. Jaja no longer stood for Papa’s abuse. He spoke out against him, challenging Papa’s authority.

Images

Kambili’s Sights After Papa Eugene Killed the Baby

“The black type blurred, the letters swimming into one another, and then changed to a bright red, the red of fresh blood. The blood was watery, flowing from Mama, flowing from my eyes.” When reading this quote, the reader pictures the torrent of blood coming from Mama after Papa killed her baby.

Garden

“The compound walls, topped by coiled electric wires, were so high I could not see the cars driving by on our street. It was the rainy season, and the frangipani trees planted next to the walls already filled the yard with the sickly-sweet scent of their flowers. A row of purple bougainvillea, cut smooth and straight as a buffet table, separated the gnarled trees from the driveway. Closer to the house, vibrant bushes of hibiscus reached out and touched one another as if they were exchanging their petals. The purple plants had started to push out sleepy buds, but most of the flowers were still on the red ones.” The reader is able to picture the well-tended garden outside of their house, this contrasts with the depiction of Aunt Ifeoma’s wild garden. This represents the structure of each household; Papa’s being strict and Aunt Ifeoma’s with freewill.

Ade Coker Impression

“He looked like a stuffed doll, and because he was always smiling, the deep dimples in his pillowy cheeks looked like permanent fixtures, as though someone had sunk a stick into his cheeks. Even his glasses looked dollish: they were thicker than window louvers, tinted a strange bluish shade, and framed in white plastic.” The reader pictures an innocent man, making it even more heartbreaking when he is murdered.

Flashbacks

“I had never been to the restaurant Genesis and had only been to the hotel Nike Lake when Papa’s business partner had a wedding reception there. We had stayed only long enough for Papa to take pictures with the couple and give them a present”. As they revisit, this quote emphasizes Papa’s need to look presentable among the public rather than actually caring about the married couple.

“‘I committed a sin against my own body once,’ he said. ‘And the good father, the one that I once lived with while I went to St. Gregory’s, came in and saw me. He asked me to boil water for tea. He poured the water in a bowl and soaked my hands in it’”. Papa retells this story after he boils Kambili’s feet for walking in the same house as a heathen.

Foreshadowing

Papa seeing the painting

“I knew Papa would come in to say good night, to kiss my forehead… I knew Jaja would not have enough time to slip the painting back in the bag, and that Papa would take one look at it and his eyes would narrow, his cheeks would bulge out like unribe udala fruit, his mouth would spurt Igbo words”. This references when Papa later finds the painting and lashes out on the children.

Papa’s Abuse of the unborn baby

“We will take care of the baby; we will protect him.’ I knew that Jaja meant from Papa, but I didnot say anything about protecting the baby”. This foreshadows that Papa will later kill the baby, as well as his known abuse towards the family.

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