The Symbolism of Language Device Usage in Purple Hibiscus
Adichie uses Kambilli’ s life as a microcosm of the tyrannical rule of Nigeria, to explore the effects of an oppressive rule on social ideologies. The genre, Bildungsroman creates a medium for Adichie to show a moral and psychological growth of Kambilli, while allowing the growth on the perspectives of readers. This allows the correction of media-influenced, stereotyped views on Nigeria. Similarly, It emphasizes the importance of women figures in the development of young women like Kambilli to break free from dictatorial and patriarchal governance and oppression on two levels, domestically under Eugene’s roof and on a larger scale, politically across Nigeria.
There is a parallactic divergence between the character traits of Mama Beatrice and Aunty Ifeoma, which serves to educate readers on the factional state of society on the portrayal of women. Ifeoma represents a more modernized representation of women, with feminism roots while Beatrice represents the oppression of women in a patriarchal world. Unlike Beatrice who is supressed by a male figure, Ifeoma represents a fresh outlook on the patriarchal construct of Nigerian society. Having had lost her husband, she has been forced to overcompensate for the lack of fatherly presence her children have by taking over roles which are predominated by males. This has allowed her to serve as a character foil for Beatrice, who conforms to roles society expects of her, which allows Adichie to enlighten readers on alternative female representation in Africa.
Adichie uses character foils, to juxtapose the common favoured representation of African women, with a more modernistic take on womanism. Beatrice is associated with African ideals on women, which represents the consequences of being subjugated by a predominantly patriarchal society. Her stereotyped feminine traits are portrayed in the symbol of the ballerina figurines. The figures are described to be “beige, finger-size ceramic figurines of ballet dancers in various contorted postures”. They illustrate the need for conformity and perfection African women are faced with. Similarly, their body image juxtapose common traits of beauty African women are normally associated with, raising the question on whether African women like Beatrice are conforming to an African-warranted sense of beauty or one created by colonial roots. The act of papa Eugene destroying the figurines symbolized Eugene fracturing common ideals of women like Beatrice, which foreshadows Kambilli’s eventual transformation. This is contrasted with the symbol of the purple hibiscus, which signifies growth, which is associated with Ifeoma.
Adichie juxtaposes symbols to represent the separate forms of femininity Ifeoma and Beatrice embody, to illustrate the growth in Kambilli’s perspectives. Ifeoma is represented with the symbol of lipstick, while Beatrice with the symbol of her free “God is love shirt”. They are both influential figures for the female bildungsroman of Kambilli. Adichie uses the Purple Hibiscus as a platform to challenge the dehumanizing inclinations of men which is evident in the juxtaposing characterization of Beatrice and Ifeoma, where she unearths African ideals on women. The symbol of the lipstick represents modern feministic qualities, which is emanated in Ifeoma’s confidence. Contrastingly, the symbol of the “God is love shirt” represents Beatrice’s subjugation and lack of feminine qualities. The shirt is described as baggy, with lack of colour, which is contrasted with the vibrancy of Ifeoma’s red lipstick. The use of colour is Adichie’s way of contrasting Beatrice’s dull, submissive personality with Ifeoma’s spunk and spirit. This is to emphasize the effects of being under an authoritative male figure such as Eugene.These two simple symbols serve as to represent the physical attributes of both women to portray a diversified idea of beauty in African women. Adichie purposely uses contradicting symbols for both women to emphasize the importance of strong women figures in a young lady’s upbringing, which is further emphasizes in Kambilli’ s Bildungsroman. The direct opposition between Ifeoma and Beatrice serves to educate Kambilli on modern views of feminism which she was shielded from.
Throughout the book, the female embodiment of the Bildungsroman is Kambilli. Her visit to Ifeoma’s house is a phenomenal step in her personal empowerment. Kambilli begins to challenge her father’s oppressive patriarchal authority over her with simple acts such as becoming more interested in make-up and braiding her hair. Kambilli shifts her admiration from the paterfamilias, Papa Eugene, to characters such as Father Amadi and Amaka, who manifests qualities of acceptance. Adichie uses Bildungsroman as a means to explore the construction of gender under a authoritarian patriarchal framework. This is also seen in the use of Amaka as a character foil. Having been brought up by modern feministic ideas, Amaka represents the importance of strong female upbringing. Her confidence embodies Ifeoma’s modern views as seen by her dressing. Amaka serves as a character foil to allow audiences to appreciate the power female role models have on the upbringing of women. This juxtaposes the common African mentality, which emphasizes the importance of a male figure in one’s upbringing while leaving out the role women have to play.
In conclusion, Adichie uses language devices such as Bildungsroman, character foils and symbolism to depict the subjugation of African women, while subtly reinforcing her own personal, modern ideals on feminism, or as she would say, womanism. She challenges common African stereotypes on women as a means to raise awareness on the benefits of breaking out of the cycle of patriarchal rule.
The Imagery of Power of Religion in Purple Hibiscus
Religion. For most people, religion is like a puzzle piece to life. It carries a level of importance like no other and helps people live life with discipline, direction, and love. But, religion, if implemented incorrectly, can also criminalize people. It can make you close-minded, harsh, violent, and more. Such is the story of Papa, in Purple Hibiscus. The incomparable influence of religion on Papa pushes him to be violent and insensitive towards his family. In the novel Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Papa’s firm belief in Christianity and it’s unjustified implementation in daily life brings out change through Aunty Ifeoma’s persevering resistance and the family’s changing views on Papa.
Aunty Ifeoma speaks against Eugene, both directly and indirectly, and it is this resistance against his values and beliefs that inaugurates change. To begin, Aunty Infeoma puts forward the fact that sometimes, leaving your life partner marks the beginning of a successful and happy life. When talking to Mama (Papa’s wife), Aunty Ifeoma says, “Nyunye m, sometimes life begins when marriage ends” (Adichie 75). Aunty Ifeoma, losing her own husband to an accident and being a professor, has experience and knowledge. She gives Mama the example of her university students, specifically girls, who after obtaining their degrees and getting married, enter a world of inequitable control by their husbands. This also implies the event nearing the end of the book where in order for Mama to rebel against Papa and escape his atrocities, Mama may have to “end” her marriage as well. Papa would consider this as something against his values and beliefs, but Aunty Ifeoma doesn’t care; she speaks her voice out. In the same conversation with Mama, Aunty Ifeoma demonstrates oppression and resistance by turning down an irresistible offer by Eugene. She recalls, Have you forgotten that Eugene offered to buy me a car… but first, he wanted us to join the Knights of St. John, … send Amaka to a convent school. He even wanted me to stop wearing makeup! I want a new car, nyunye m, and I want to use my gas cooker again and I want a new freezer and I want money so that I will not have to unravel the seams of Chima’s trousers when he outgrows them. (95)
It is seen that Aunty Ifeoma was offered a good life only if she abided by the rules of Papa. She had to be a faithful devotee of Christianity, but her own values, morals and beliefs prevented her from doing so. She even goes as far as declaring that, “I will not ask my brother to bend over so that I can lick his buttocks to get these things” (95). It is also seen that Aunty Ifeoma isn’t afraid to talk up to and against Papa directly, although this scares Kambili to death. When Papa and Aunty Ifeoma interact for the first time in the novel, Kambili’s heart stopped, then started in a hurry. It was the flippant tine; she did not seem to recognize that it was Papa, that he was different, special. (77)
Kambili looks towards Papa as an ultimate figure, and that meant no one could talk against him in any way, shape or form. Neither Jaja, Mama or Kambili have the authority to go against Papa, but Aunty Ifeoma, partly unaware of the position Papa holds in their life, talks according to her own upbringing and personality. This very personality will slowly trickle down to Kambili and Jaja once they start spending more time in Nsukka with Aunty Ifeoma and her children.
Papa’s atrocious behaviour towards his family, heavily influenced by Christian traditions and beliefs, changes their opinion of him for the worse. To begin, Papa punishes Kambili for consuming food before going to Mass and punished the whole family for it. When Papa finds out, he screams, “Has the devil asked you all to go on errands for him? … Has the devil built a tent in my house? … [and] you sit there and watch her desecrate the Eucharistic Fast, maka nnidi?” (102). Kambili’s menstrual cycle begins and she consumes Papadol, a drug to relieve the pain, but Papa strongly disapproves of the breaking of the Eucharistic Fast. This is an instance of insensitivity, where Papa, rather than attempting to relieve Kambili’s pain, violently punishes her, alongside the family, because it does not follow Papa’s strict rules. This is one of the very first examples in the novel where we see violence in the family, and the continuation of it is the beginning of the end of Papa. Next, a horrific beating of Kambili is seen because she had a painting of Papa-Nnukwu, Papa’s father and so-called “heathen”. Kambili describes the experience and says in the novel, “The stinging was raw now, even more like bites, because the metal landed on open skin to my side, my back, my legs” (211). This is a big moment in the novel, when Kambili realises that for Papa, religious purity is more important than caring for a daughter. While she is in the intensive care unit, a new side to her view of Papa emerges, as when Mama tries to defend Papa, she “[found it] hard to turn, but [she] did it and looked away” (212). Kambili’s transition from a positive and loving view into a negative one has initiated change but Mama, still unaware of the tragic reality of the situation, stays put on Papa’s side. Finally, we see Mama, who was portrayed as a modest and compliant character, finally took her own “revenge” on Papa, after all that she faced with him. Kambili recalls, When she spoke, her voice was just as calm and slow. ‘I started putting the poison in his tea before I came to Nsukka. Sisi go it for me; her uncle is a very powerful witch doctor.’ (290)
Like Jaja, Mama decides to escape from Papa’s reigns and control, but her method of doing so was different. She fought violence with violence, and she is forced to ultimately do so as a result of Papa’s violence and control. Unexpectedly, we see that it is Mama’s opinion which has changed drastically, as she continued to defend Papa after Kambili thought otherwise.
The all-prevailing motif of religion in Purple Hibiscus greatly influenced the train of events that led to Papa’s demise. Through the resistance of Aunty Ifeoma and Papa’s monstrous demeanour towards his own family, Mama, Jaja and Kambili are able to comprehend the truth, albeit late, and take vengeance in their own styles. It is quite ironic; the very basis of his life and his actions in life were the causative factors of his own death.
The Portrayal of Gender Roles in Purple Hibiscus and I Am Malala
In our 2019 literature novels, both the women and men have not only experienced different types of oppression but have also overcome oppression in separate ways. Racial oppression is present in Purple Hibiscus. We see Gender oppression in Purple Hibiscus and I am Malala. Religions oppression is evident in the novels Purple Hibiscus and I am Malala and finally Social oppression is observed in Holding up the universe and Macbeth. In my essay I will be presenting where the suppression took place and the characters it affected.
In the novels Purple Hibiscus and I am Malala the authors all had similar ideas in which gender oppression was portrayed in each individual novel. In Purple Hibiscus, woman were seen as inferior to men. Eugene Achike “Papa” had always been seen as the man of the house which leads to him constantly thinking he’s superior to everyone in his family. Eugenes has a tendency to oppress the women in his life, this is evident in the character Beatrice Achike “Mama”. Beatrice is constantly silent to avoid humiliation from society and brutality from mainly Eugene. She doesn’t come out about how Eugene abuses her because she knows she’ll be humiliated. She knows that no one will believe her because she’s with Eugene who is perceived by everybody as a very likeable person because of the donations he gives to the church and the help provided for the community. Beatrice has been mirrored in a light that is in tolerance of men and showed when Eugene would beat Beatrice to the extent of the foetus in Beatrice uterus had been killed and she continued to tolerate that behaviour. Soon after Beatrice lost another baby too Eugene once again brutally assaulting her with a side table. The oppression Beatrice faced certainly came to an end, she struggled for many years and soon gained the courage to take matters into her own hands and poisons Eugene.
I am Malala portages very similar ideas to Purple Hibiscus in ways that women are seen as secondary to all men. Malala is passionate about creating a equal environment between the sexes, she often quotes the founder of Pakistan who encourages equality between the sexes and stands against gender oppression, Mohammend Ali Jinnah, “No struggle can succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.” In I am Malala women face everyday abuse and violence, It has been reported that, “90 percent of Pakistani women suffer from domestic violence” and this is yet another example of gender oppression faced in everyday Pakistan shown in I am Malala. In Pakistan when a child is born depending on their gender the reaction is different and shows us how women are treated just because of their gender, “I was a girl in a land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain, their role in life simply to prepare food and give both to children” The Taliban who are, “Radical fundamentalists terrorist group” become a predominate group who oppress many women across Pakistan. The Taliban use violence and intimidation to enforce their ideas on how women shouldn’t be able to attend school and have a proper education. Many women are too petrified to stand up to the Taliban and because of the lack of education given to women, they are unsure about their rights as humans. Malala stands up for what she believes in and speaks out about women rights, in forms of radio broadcast and writing articles. The Tailban find Malala’s enthusiasm for ending gender oppression too powerful and decide to try and execute Malala, however the mission fails. The oppression faced by Malala and women who live in Pakistan to this date haven’t fully overcome gender oppression but I believe they have taken many steps to eventually reaching the stage of ending gender oppression in Pakistan. Therefore, we can see how Gender oppression is present in Purple Hibiscus and I am Malala.
Religious oppression is central to the novels Purple Hibiscus and I am Malala. In Purple Hibiscus, Eugenes religious beliefs had been shaped by the Catholic missionaries who are extremely strict in their religion. Eugene forces his beliefs onto his family and doesn’t interact with any person not of the same faith as him. Those beliefs have resulted in a large gap in Eugenes relationship with his father, Papa-Nnukwu who still follow the traditional Igbo rituals. Eugene oppresses the children to go visit Papa-Nnukwu due to the fact he sees him as a “Godless heathen” who follows Igbo rituals. And later on, even though Papa-Nnukuw has passed away Eugene still can’t bring himself to accept his father and doesn’t attend his funeral, “I cannot participate in a Pagan funeral.” He doesn’t allow Kambili and Mama to wear pants, they aren’t allowed to pray over meals because it’s long winded and informal and if any of this were to be rebelled against he would punish them because this is a disgrace to the Catholic beliefs. The Religious oppression was overcome by the poisoning and ultimately killing of Eugene.
In I am Malala, Religious oppression has been used as a framework to argue that women shouldn’t be given an education. The Taliban use the Muslim faith as an excuses that if women were to go to school they would be sent to hell. Malala doesn’t allow the fear of the Taliban to silence her and expresses exactly what she thinks, “They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to the hell just because of going to school. The terrorists are misusing the name of Islam and Pashtun society for their own personal benefits.” The Taliban believe that the Quran dictates that women have to wear a burqa and they must refrain from receive any type of education. Malala disagrees that if women don’t walk around with a burqa and be restated to an education that they are unloyal Muslims. However, the Taliban think otherwise and are insulted that a woman would go against what their interpretation of Islam says. When Malala tries to spread her idea that Allah would want women to receive an education the Taliban try to assassinate her but fail. Malala to this day still hasn’t stopped fighting for women equality and still faces the religious oppression everyday. I don’t think she has completely overcome the oppression but is definitely on the right track to doing so. Therefore, we can see how religious oppression is present in both Purple Hibiscus and I am Malala and how the oppression is still being over come to this day.
In the novels Holding up the universe and Macbeth Social oppression prevented the main characters from living their life freely. Holding up the Universe had many people involved with the oppression Libby Stout faced as well as Jack Masselin. Libby had been labelled “America’s fattest teen” at the age of sixteen. She had faced bullying when she was younger and ultimately lead to her being homeschooled due to the things said to her such as: “You’re so big you block the moon. Go home, Flabby Stout, go home to your room…” Libby internalises all the criticising from people and always absorbs the information into her head.
Analysis Of Purple Hibiscus By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“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.
“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.
“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 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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
A Subaltern Perspectives in The Novel Of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Purple Hibiscus
This paper introduces power relations in Purple Hibiscus to investigate how female characters’ fight with their subjugation and the oppression growing from patriarchy. The images of women and their position in the universe of the novel and the oppressive gender structures which push women to the margins as well as how women came back to the center is examined. Eve Ensler states that:
Women are excluded from certain crucial economic and political activities and their roles as wives and mothers are associated with fewer powers and prerogatives than male roles. African women operate within the paradigm of dominated-periphery defined groups and so they are actively engaged in production of oppositional ideologies to counter the overriding patriarchal principles.
In the Purple Hibiscus Eugene fits the descriptions of a Gothic patriarch and Beatrice, Kambili and Jaja the suffering subjects of his authority. These victims of paternal patriarchal authority do everything possible to claim their free space in the oppressive circumstances occasioned by Eugene. No wonder male religious leaders so often say that humans were born in sin because we were born to female creatures. Only by obeying the rules of the patriarchy can we be reborn through men. No wonder priests and ministers in skirts sprinkle imitation birth fluid over our heads, give us new names, and promise rebirth into everlasting life.
The character of Beatrice and Ifeoma in Purple Hibiscus is a case of women asserting their positions in their societies and challenging patriarchy with its several manifestations. The system of oppression draws much of its strength from the accepting of its victims, their image and get paralyzed by a sense of helplessness. Adichie’s story explores numerous societal structures through which women are oppressed. She identifies domestic violence, religion, traditions, family life, civil unrest, extended families, polygamy, desire for sons, racism, colonialism and neocolonialism as being responsible for unequal gender relations forming the basis of exploitation of women and domestic violence that characterize Eugene’s household in Purple Hibiscus.
Through the character of Beatrice this novel explores how wives are subjugated by their husbands. Beatrice’s world is totally controlled by her husband. She is not allowed to take any choice and express feelings of her own. In one situation that confirms that when the family visits Father Benedict after a Sunday service. Papa’s word is final and he disregards the wife’s feelings and thus Beatrice hangs at the limits of Papa’s world. Being sick she is compelled to go to the priest’s house. At home, she has no choice over what colour of curtains to hang on the windows of the house. The indecision depicted here confirms the marginal position Beatrice occupies in relation to her husband. Beatrice struggles from the boundary and rises as the pro-active character and who pulls down patriarchy by poisoning the husband. This way moves to the center where she is allowed to make her own choices. The suffering that Beatrice goes through can only be free by removing Eugene out of her space and so the writer’s act is the final act of dragging down patriarchy and its violence. It does not mean destroying men since Beatrice desires to have a loving man in her life. Eugene often fought with his wife and Kambili is always upset when her parents fight over everything.
Eugene’s attack of his pregnant wife shows the brutal behavior of the evil face of patriarchy but also the insensitivity of such practice to basic principles of humanity. Mama’s act of raising her hands while being flogged together with her children symbolizes surrender and helplessness that made women once exposed to male violence. The author condemns Mama’s failure to speak about her situation since the silence regained by Eugene results to several misfortunes that would have been averted. Although Mama is abused and unloved by her cruel husband, she is subservient to her husband as expected in her marriage.
The opening lines of Purple Hibiscus signal a threat to continued co-existence of the family members because of lack of free space. The home is in turmoil and things are about to fall apart. It means the center symbolized by the male domination cannot hold anymore and further suggests that several centers of authority are necessary. It is in the other centres where the characters living in Eugene’s family enjoy their own freedom. Kambili is concerned about every member of the family but does not speak her mind because of lack of freedom. Mama informs the daughter that she will not replace the figurines and Kambili realizes that, “when Papa threw the missal at Jaja it was not just the figurines that came tumbling down, it was everything” (15). The word “Everything” implies even the authority that Papa has taken over his family. Mama’s refusal to replace the figurines suggests a need to live without the usual patriarchal control occasioned by Eugene. Eugene’s family is housed in a closed compound where dealing with the outside world is completely avoided. There are high walls with electric wires so that nothing enters inside the compound or to go outside of it. This ensures that the violence that the family suffers is not known to the outside world. It also prevents new and laboratory ideas from filtering in. They are very much held in a controlled domestic space that they depend on Papa’s knowledge and ideas over everything. It can be expressed that patriarchy has always tried to control the domestic space and women cannot enter into the chance of entering into the public sphere symbolized by the Eugene’s family compound. Mama, a symbol of oppressed African women, suffers such suppression and oppression. She has no voice and does not talk to Papa. She is a dehumanized wife and suffers in solitary.
A considerable change in thinking and looking at the world has taken place because of the visit to Nsukka’s. Kambili is able to identify the high goals Papa sets for them contrary to Nsukka where Ifeoma allows the cousins to explore and scale their heights. Through the travelling motif Kambili discovers her true self and her desire for freedom is highlighted. Her cousins have a voice to speak their joys, aspirations, sorrows and to explain their world, which are the things Jaja and Kambili miss at Enugu. Silence in Eugene’s house is perverse but there is a lot of talk, laughter, singing and exchange at Aunty Ifeoma’s house. In super imposing the two environments Adichie advocates for upbringing like that of Ifeoma where girls are not discriminated from boys and domestic chores are shared equally regardless of gender. The home.
Adichie seems to suggest that negative patriarchy rears its ugly face in Africa in the modern era despite the progress made in different areas of human endeavor. It means that women can only be respected if they fulfill their biological duty of mothering. Mama fears Papa may marry other women who may give Papa more sons and displace her. For a woman to have security and a permanent position then she should have several children and more so boys. African women’s need to be disparaged or at least revised to give women a breathing space as hinted to by Adichie. Although Aunty Ifeoma is educated and enjoys more freedom than Beatrice, she is also held by her family such that she spends much of her time with the children: helping, correcting, punishing, encouraging and cooking. She is widowed and struggling as Papa-Nnukwu realizes “since the father of her children died, she has seen hard times” (65). Kambili notes that she behaves like a referee who has done a good job and admires to watch the players who in this case are her children: Amaka, Obiora and Chima. Adichie uses Ifeoma’s character to open women’s eyes to the realities of patriarchy and also to suggest alternative avenues to self-actualization. She stands against oppression when everyone else is silent. Through this character Adichie pronounces her convictions that the oppressed should constantly challenge their oppressor.
The identity of women is linked to their children and one realize that those women who are childless suffer the indignity of lacking mother-derived identity. The identity of mothers is crucial in getting business names. Such identification serves to marginalize those who are childless. Rarely have women been studied as daughters in literature since the identity of wives and mothers overshadow other identities. In Purple Hibiscus Ifeoma forms friendship with the sister-in-law Beatrice and attempts to pull her out of a violent marriage. Ifeoma is ready to take the children to Nsukka so that Beatrice can think independently and quit domestic abuse. It is on the same scale that women at the University of Nigeria-Nsukka are concerned about the management and the problems cause continual trouble to the institution and people like Phillipa make a choice out of the troubled waters. This movement out of Nsukka probably to America serves to expand the space for women to challenge domination. Ifeoma bonds well with those women she is working with and she is given information about the list of disloyal lecturers long before she is sacked. It is out of her closeness with the female students that they even announce to her their plan to marry. So she is strong on her achievement that shows her education power on her. Beatrice is close to Sisi and it is her who gets Mama the poison that kills Eugene. This is a case of a woman helping a colleague woman to surmount oppression. After Eugene’s death Sisi is married but spends a considerable amount of time instructing Okon the new family steward.
This serves to celebrate the freedom that mother and daughter enjoy after Papa’s death. The silence that grips this family can afford them some freedom that lets them breathe. Kambili supports the mother in her trying period of widowhood and can also be analyzed as a troupe of heralding female bonding. Kambili comes out as a character who exhibits strength before adversity and an inspiration for the much desired change. In Purple Hibiscus Aunty Ifeoma and Aunty Phillipa are educated and thus liberated. Ifeoma does not want to marry again after the death of her husband and when Papa Nnukwu informs her of his prayers for her to get a good man to marry her, Ifeoma disagrees because what she requires most is a promotion to a senior lecturer not and get married one more time to suffer. She is free from male influence and determined to enjoy her freedom. Ifeoma’s forthrightness and confident are as a result of the power of education. She is educated and aware when things are going wrong. Adichie uses her so that she can contrast her with the sister-in-law Beatrice who depends on her husband economically. Due to lack of proper education and a paying job, Beatrice suffers all the effects of patriarchal domination perpetuated by Eugene and the Igbo culture.
Ifeoma becomes strong with her education strength and she leads her life on her own without depending on others. She is liberated from the patriarchy and is able to give voices for the society, she is exiled but she does not stop her action. She continues to give voice for the voiceless and searches for a good paying job. She is strong and her achievement shows the power of education on her. Adichie portrays the miracle of education for women empowerment through projecting characters who are educated and others with less or no education so as to draw parallels and give some freedom to the educated ones. Educated women in the novel are able to escape male oppression unlike the uneducated ones. The educated women can voice against suppression, oppression and also towards male domination.
In this paper inequalities, restrictions, penalties and denials directed toward women in Adichie’s novels have been identified. It emerges that tradition, religion, marriage, motherhood and the desire for baby boys among other factors are to blame for the silencing of the African woman. Adichie strongly indicts those institutions and practices which perpetuate gender inequality and continue to marginalize women. The chapter also explores the different strategies Adichie adopts to accord women a voice in the face of the silencing structures. Women’s writing is taken and understood as a process of challenging the dominating powers and creating oppositional discourse so as to engender change. The way Adichie’s female characters struggle to end their oppression is an issue that has received special attention in this chapter. Speaking to traditions and cultures that are suppressive, strong female characters, education for women and female bonding are identified as the strategies that women and female writers utilize to fight oppression and exclusion. Although other African female writers explore the gender issues discussed in this chapter before, Adichie has unique voice in the sense that her works are cast in wider human oppression and not necessarily exploitation confined to sexuality and gender. Her approach to fighting oppression confirms that despite the struggles by women to assert themselves in a world dominated by men through the ways identified in this chapter the war against gender subordination in Africa is far from over.
The Theme of Finding True Self in Their Eyes Were Watching God And Purple Hibiscus
What truly defines an individual’s personality? Some might believe that your identity is defined by how you feel about yourself. Aristotle believed in something more concrete: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” Throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God, a fictional novel by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie Crawford was on a quest to find what it really meant to be her true self in which she traverses the treacherous terrain of her through three marriages. The same idea of character and actions is reflected by Eugene Achike in the fictional novel Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Several illuminating scenes throughout the two narratives prove one thing to be true – individuality is not a mere idea of yourself or your potential. Through the characterization of Janie and Eugene, the authors demonstrate that everyone is defined by their own actions, whether those actions are constructive or destructive.
Through her willingness to think apart from the majority, especially in choosing her third husband, Janie reveals her level of independence. After the death of her former and second husband Joe Starks, Janie is left with a choice of who she would marry if she would even marry again. As a woman of remarkable social status in Eatonville, she could of married whomever she liked. As a result, when Janie and Tea Cake make an appearance together at a town picnic, the town instantly starts to question why, “out of all the men she could get,” she was “fooling with somebody like Tea Cake” (Hurston, 110). Because Janie is willing to break the traditional norms of marrying in the same social class, she shows that she is choosing to act according to her own individual preferences. Her actions also label her distinctiveness and differing perception; she is independent of the townspeople’s collective image of how a widow ought to act right after her husband passes. Janie explains to Pheoby, “Us is goin’ off somewhere and start all over in Tea Cake’s way” (Hurston, 114). “Goin’ off somewhere” implies that Janie is leaving the town for good to start a new life. At the same time, the act of going off somewhere is symbolic on another level. Janie is running away not only from the town, but also from the town’s way fixed mindset and way of thinking; this running away from what is considered the norm revisits once again Janie’s personality. This outside influence in regard to marriage is not the only time in the novel Janie endures it. Earlier, her Grandmother forced her hand in marrying Logan Killicks. The only difference is that this time she refuses to be molded by others’ expectations of her rather than blindly take orders which she makes clear when she declares, “Ah done lived Grandma’s way now Ah means tuh live mine” (Hurston, 114). Hurston includes Janie’s life choices similar to these to allow the reader greater insight into the main character’s personality. For Janie or anyone else, a person’s actions speak volumes about their attitude and character.
Eugene Achike is yet another example of patterns of action describing entire personality. For Papa, his negative actions overshadow the rest of his actions and inner thoughts and paint him as a cruel father to Kambili. When Kambili and Jaja get home from their first trip to Nsukka, Papa learns that Papa-Nnukwu, a heathen, was in the same vicinity with the children. With mixed emotions, Papa has Kambili sit in the bathtub while he pours scalding water on her feet, saying, “This is what you do to yourself when you walk into sin” (Hurston, 194). This frightening scene is the most violent punishment Papa has given so far to Kambili. Cruel, brutal, heartless, merciless, harsh, and inhumane – all character traits that are brought to light in this scene. The manner in which Papa burns Kambili’s feet is with the same emotion one would carry out a cold-blooded murder. His reasoning and judgment, which are seen through his actions, also depict his personality. Papa tells Kambili, “Everything I do for you, I do for your own good” because he actually believes giving Kambili hell will effectively save her from it (Hurston, 196). During this abusive act, Papa is not punishing Kambili because he’s furious. Rather, he simply decides this punishment is the justified consequence for staying in the same home as a heathen. It is important to note as well that Papa states, “Kambili, you are precious” before punishing her (Hurston, 194). Tears also streamed from his eyes as he poured the water from the kettle. Despite his words and emotions, actions speak louder and bring out more of his character. Earlier in the novel, Papa beats Mama and mistreats her to the point where she has a miscarriage. His cruel actions are repeated without the same sentiment. The author uses Papa’s characterization to show that actions speak louder than words. No matter how many times Papa expresses his love for his family or cries when harming them, his actions define him. In Papa’s case, cruelty describes the severity of Papa’s actions and himself as a person as well.
A person is defined by and is always the sum of their actions, as can be seen by the characterization of Janie and Eugene. Janie chose to think for herself. Every decision she made was according to her own standards and she thought apart from the crowd. No better quality describes her then independent. Eugene cared for his family very much. However, his harsh methods of punishment when he physically harmed those he loved highlighted nothing but cruelty. What Aristotle wrote over two thousand years ago has not lost a trace of relevance in today’s society. It’s up to us to turn inward and decide what kind of person we want to be, then let our behavior and attitude reflect that. Because ultimately, we are no better and no worse than the entirety of our actions.
A Plot Of Purple Hibiscus Book
Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus is about a fifteen year old girl named Kambili who is living in a colonial period in Nigeria. The book shows how the characters in this book are marginalized, excluded or silenced depending on their social groups. Kambili, Jaja and their Mama Beatrice, who are in the high class are all being silenced in the beginning of the book. Aunty Ifeoma and her children, Amaka, Obiora, who are in the low class, are excluded throughout the boom and silenced at the end of the book. Papa Nnukwu, who is also in the low class, is being excluded in the middle of book. There seems to be a category of who’s silent or excluded that depends on the social group of the characters in the book.
As readers, it is known that Kambili is a timid and shy girl throughout the flashbacks. She sometimes stutters when she speaks but she is mostly silent. The reason that she is silent is because of her Papa Eugene who is very religious and strict. Due to his religious beliefs and pride, he can become very abusive to his family. For example from page 100 to 103, Kambili needed to eat to take Panadol to stop her period cramps, even if it is before Mass. Her mother told her in a whisper to “eat a little corn flakes,quickly”. Unfortunately, her father found her eating and beat her with his belt along with Jaja and Mama Beatrice. That abusive relationship she had with her father made her silent. Kambili is too afraid to talk because she is afraid of what she will say will say to make Papa disappointed or beat her. She received some criticism from other people. Her classmates on page 51 says she is a “backyard yard” and Amaka from page 120 to 126 also sees her as a snob and Amaka’s friends calls her a sheep but they all don’t know the true reason behind her silence. And Mama Beatrice, she rarely speaks because she was also being silenced by Papa Eugene. She suffers miscarriages from his beating. It is noticeable that everytime she gets beaten by Eugene, she polishes her ballet figurines. For example, on page 192, Kambili notices that she polished the etagere while she has a swollen face the she asked when she polished and she answered “yesterday”. She never speaks about Papa’s violence neither does her children. Adichie shows that even the people of high class can be silenced by someone who is superior to them.
Secondly, Aunty Ifeoma, a widow who works at a university and raises three kids. She seems to be living a low class life due to Kambili’s description of her home. For example She said noticed “ the ceiling, how low it was. (…) unlike home” (p.112) and the air smells like kerosene. It seems like she has excluded herself and her children from the rich class life like Eugene’s family even if Eugene’s wealth could have been shared. She stays true to her country’s traditions unlike her brother. She once said that “sometimes life begins when marriage ends” (p.75) meaning despite her husband’s death and her shortage of money, she manages her life very well. Her father, Papa Nnukwu however gets excluded from Eugene’s life because he is a traditionalist and “not Catholic”. Papa Eugene considers him as “a pagan” and he doesn’t want his children to be near him. For example, on page 61, he didn’t want his children to stay at Nnukwu’s home longer than fifteen minutes.The exclusion of the low class people can sometimes be controlled by the superior or that they had done it to themselves to avoid any problems.
Suddenly, the pattern has changed a little. After Papa Eugene’s death, Kambili is now talkative and independent because she is no longer being silenced by her father. Mama Beatrice however, she is silent because of the crime she committed. Despite admitting to everyone even the media that she killed Papa Eugene, no one believed her so she silenced herself. During the flashbacks, Jaja changed and he was able to talk back to his father and became independent. However, his brutal experiences in prison made him silent. He even couldn’t speak with his eyes like he used to communicate with Kambili when Kambili visits him. Kambili is the only one in the rich class who is no longer silent.In the low class, we haven’t heard much from Aunty Ifeoma but she included herself in the family despite being far away because she moved to America. In the last chapter she sent Jaja recording of the family’s voices to comfort him and that shows that there will always be with Kambili’s family.
In conclusion, there comes a time where the high class people can be silent or being silenced and the low class can be excluded or being excluded due to their beliefs and that pattern can be changed because of the absence of that cause.Adichie shows how being social groups can have their disadvantages.
Rebellion in Purple Hibiscus Novel
Infact rebellion is seen all throughout the novel and is presented by Kambili’s brother, Jaja. A big clue that Rebellion plays a grand role in the book is the constant recurring back talk and actions going against papa. For example, on the very first page of the book on the very first line the quote says “Things started to fall apart when my brother jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the etagere”. This first quotes tells the reader multiple things. The first thing we can infer, is that kambili and jaja reside in a very religious household. You can also infer that papa is controlling and inflicts religion onto his children heavily. The fact that papa throws a bible at the figurine etagere adds up to frustration inside the father and a sneak peak of emotions and actions that papa brings out when his children don’t obey and foreshadows future but worse actions acted upon the family. Another time when rebellion is shown against papa is when kambili and jaja are in kambili’s room not regularly following the fixed schedules assigned to them. Kambili includes that papa never or hardly checks on them to attend their schedules so jaja goes to talk to kambili and then surprisingly asks to see the painting given to Kambili from their cousin Amaka. The painting is unfinished but is created to represent papa nnukwu who is deceased. Jaja reassures kambili that their father won’t find out because he’s busy with Father Benedict. Kambili is quickly debating with herself if jaja is right and very sure. Kambili’s skeptical thoughts are shown by the quote, “My eyes lingered on the door, I never looked at the painting when papa was at home” on page 208. It’s as if the author is telling us that kambili kept her eyes on the door because she knew she had doubt in her mind that she had enough time. Time passes by and time escapes from kambili and jaja and papa comes in and sees them with the painting gets angry and asks where they got the painting, what it is, and if they converted to heathen ways. Jaja says “O nkem. It’s mine” and he wraps his arms around the painting as if protecting it and protecting the memories that he had a Aunty Ifeoma’s house when he felt at home and comfortable and actually as an individual.
Family Cultural Structures
Adichie proves that the Igbo culture is way different than what we normal everyday americans have in the united states or even our everyday lives. Mama is characterized as weak not only by her own daughter but by her sister in law, When Aunty Ifeoma. invites Kambili and Jaja to her house Jaja begins to look different and act different, in a way he has never acted at home. Kambili notices the changes occurring within jaja physically and mentally. In a scene when jaja is in Aunty Ifeoma’s garden kambili takes a long look at him and describes his physical appearance changing rather quickly. The quote where jaja is described is on page 143, “Jaja was on his knees. He wore only a pair of denim shorts, and the muscles on his back rippled, smooth and long like the ridges he weeded”. This quote describing jaja is correlating with the igbo culture very directly. In the Igbo culture when women have sons the sons tend to help out with outdoor crops (such as jaja is with Aunty Ifeoma’s garden). Heavy weight lifting and multiple tasks are also included. Another way the novel includes cultural aspects of the igbo people is the topic on Polygamy. Mama tells Kambili that they are very lucky that papa hasn’t met another woman and started a new family although people have told him to.On page 20 Mama says, “You know after you came and I had the miscarriages the villagers started to whisper. The members of our umunna even sent people to your father to urge him to have children with someone else. So many people had willing daughters, and many of them were university graduates too. They may have borne many sons and taken over our home.” Mama is somehow in a way grateful to god that papa didn;t leave her and have other wives and In igbo culture shows that polygamy is a normal characteristic. Not only are the men on top culturally but socially also.
Papa has a very large ego and is mostly due to the admiration he receives from the villagers and church goers that go to him for advice or to bask in his presence. After the death of Papa Nnuwuku Aunty Ifeoma tries to inform papa about the tragic news and papa seems completely unfazed. Papa shows no remorse towards the death of his father due to the sole fact that his father prayed to the ancestors and papa completely disowned him from socializing with him and has taken the problems in their relationship towards papa nwuku’s and kambili’s and jaja’s relationship.They were only allowed to see papa nwuku 15 minutes a couple times a year which is pretty outrageous considering that is their grandfather but religion controls their lives so strictly it put barriers between them and one of their family members. Papa exerts his ego on page 189 by saying, “I cannot participate in a pagan funeral, but we can discuss with parish priest and arrange a catholic funeral. Papa’s lifestyle is over run and dominated by religion so strongly that he refuses to attend the funeral and not show one bit of compassion towards his own father. Although Papa’s toxic ego has altered his family connections it didn’t stop his dad praying for him every morning. The compassion in papa nuwuku’s heart is shown by a quote on page 168, “I was surprised that he prayed for PaPa with the same earnestness that he prayed for himself and Aunty Ifeoma”. This quote spoken by kambili shows the epiphany she experienced that everything she thought about her grandfather was all influenced by her father’s ego.
Jaja and Kambili are so used to having secrets inside their household such as the abuse, strict rules, and papa’s authority over all of them. A quote on page 154 is from kambili talking to jaja about the event regarding his finger that sprung questions, “Had jaja forgotten that we never told, that there was so much that we never told? When people asked, he always said finger was “something” that had happened at home.” this quote that kambili is saying is revolving around the fact that their lifestyle is so different that they would rather just keep events that happened at home to themselves. Kambili seems to resemble her mother by keeping thoughts to herself and never speaking her mind out loud and that’s why Amaka tends to take advantage of her quiet nature. When Kambili arrives home from Aunt Ifeoma’s house she says in her mind, “I wanted to tell Mama that it did feel different to be back, that our living room had too much empty space, too much wasted marble floor that gleamed from sisi’s polishing and housed nothing. Our ceilings were too high. Our furniture was lifeless: the glass did not shed twisted skin in the harmattan, the leather sofa’s greeting was a clammy coldness, the persian rugs were too lush to have any feeling. But I said, ‘You polished the etagere’. ” on page 192. This quote exhibits kambili’s real thoughts about her home and her inside mental thoughts on how she really feels about the lifestyle she lives. Secrets aren’t only kept from other family member but also the people she lives with.
Illusion vs. Reality
The most delusional individual inside this novel would be Mama. Mama is seen as not as attached to reality as every other character is. Mama is the most affected by the abuse more than the children however she also the most oblivious to it. The further into the book you start to get an impression and go more in depth of the other character’s actually opinions on events that happen especially the abusive aspects. After papa beats Kambili so mercifully that she ends up in the emergency room on a gurney unable to move her body. While kambili is still continuing her studies in the hospital, Aunty Ifeoma tries to give Mama advice on page 214, Aunty Ifeoma tells Mama “I want kambili and jaja to stay with us, at least until Easter. Pack your own things and come to Nsukka. It will be easier for you to leave when they are not there” Mama doesn’t give a lot of thought about the advice that Aunt Ifeoma is warning her.This quote shows that Aunty Ifeoma is aware of the abuse that papa inflicts upon mama and may be the reason she wants kambili and jaja to stay over with her as long as possible. Mama responds with an empty answer as If she herself is so surprised that the long term abuse escalated to kambili ending up in the living room when she has witnessed all of the other times such as Papa boiling kambili’s feet and Papa beating the family for Jaja and Mama allowing kambili to eat before the communion and Kambili eating before the communion. He saw the action as a sin and thus acted upon it. On Page 32 an example of this would be a quote describing the occasion when kambili heard loud thuds coming from her parents room. “When I heard the sounds. Swift, heavy thuds on my parent’s hand carved bedroom door. I imagined the door had gotten stuck and papa was trying to open it. If i imagined it hard enough, then it would be true” This quote informs the reader that obviously kambili is trying to cover her ears and block the sound from her because she doesn’t want to face the harsh reality in her face so she thinks of something else and acts out a believable story in her head.
Rich vs. Poor
Ifeoma is known to deal with a lot of financial issues versus her brother Eugene also known as papa who has ease getting through his day with food on the table at all time meanwhile ifeoma freezes and unfreezes chickens, has a mini garden where she grows her vegetables to eat, and she walks to the supermarkets to get sodas and anything she needs for a cheap price. On page 45 it is shown by a quote that Aunt ifeoma goes to extreme measures to make ends meet. “He parked his car next to Aunty Ifeoma’s station wagon and took out a can of petrol and a garden hose that had been cut to quarter of its length.” Aunt Ifeoma’s car broke down and they’re trying to get gas into it meanwhile iobora says, “Let me do the sucking father” this shows Aunty ifeoma’s children are aware of their poverty level and are used to her car not working or her just in general not having a lot money. On page 58 Kambili describes her house in a plain manner which is weird because her house size is what almost everyone would be glad to have. “The wide passages made our house feel like a hotel, as did the impersonal smell of doors kept locked most of the year, of unused bathrooms and kitchens and toilets, of inhabited rooms. We used only the ground floor and first floor; the other two were last used years ago.” Although kambili has a larger house and richer it;s completely odd that she’d rather be in a poorer home and be happier.
Superiority of the church
Papa is shown as a man with a lot of power and even is seen as close to god regarding leadership in the church. On page 93 Kambili and Amaka are talking and they’re discussing how papa in a way is so powerful altered the religious traditional ways. The quote, “I thought the Igwe was supposed to stay at his place and receive guests. I didn’t know he visits people’s homes,’Amaka said, as we went downstairs.’I guess that’s because your father is a big man.” Another quote that shows a similar message is “Mama looked at the wall clock, a gift from a charity papa donated to, oval shaped and embossed with his name in gold lettering.” This quote shows that because papa is a man of the church he has power over people to make them treat him like he’s some type of golden person from heaven. Normally when donating to a charity, you don’t receive clocks with your name in gold lettering. The gold lettering seems over the top and why did they have to give him a clock if people are supposed to donate. The Gold lettering symbolized his position and the power he has because of the church.
Papa and Papa Nnukwu’s relationship had drastic faults due to them failing to see eye to eye due to different religious views. Papa explains why Papa is so religious and that the white men changed him. Papa is known to do things similar to the white people. “Papa changed his accent when he spoke, sounding British, just as he did when he spoke to Father Benedict. He was gracious, in the eager-to-please way that he always assumed with the religious, especially with the white religious.” on page 46. This quote means that papa is more favorable to the way that white people talked and is in a way showing that he has been influenced by them. A quote on page 168 says, “Chineke! Bless my son, Eugene. let the sun not set on his prosperity . Lift the curse they have put on him.” Papa Nnukwu is saying that papa is under a curse and that he was brainwashed and converted by the missionaries.
A theme of Fear is circulated all around this book and exhibited in most of the characters such as Ade Crocker, Aunty Ifeoma, Jaja, Mama, Amaka and Kambili. A quote that demonstrates fear in majority of the characters is found on page 141, “I stood there, staring at her, wishing Aunty Ifeoma were to speak for me.” Kambili informs us that she is afraid to speak up for herself towards amaka when amaka makes little snooty comments towards her. Another circumstance that a quote implies fear from a character is on page 174 when it says, “When liquid fire was raging inside me, when fear mingling with hope and clutching itself around my ankles.” This quote also broadcasts fear by relating that kambili shows her quiet ideas and thoughts that she keeps to herself. The quote also tells us that she is overwhelmed with emotions and being scared is one of them.
Papa is a great example of Self Contradiction because he sets the best display of this. Papa is a churchman, is incredibly religion, gives to charities, and is a big role model for the local villagers. Although he seen as a very good person he beats his wife and cause her to miscarriage her child. The miscarriage affects kambili because she sees the red blood in her text book while studying this is emphasized on page 35 when kambili can’t help but stare at mama’s belly and be reminded of the tragic event that occurred. Kambili expresses this by the quote of her saying,” I went upstairs then and sat staring at my textbook. The black type blurred, the letters swimming into one another, and was watery, flowing from Mama, flowing from my eyes.” Papa also does the opposite actions of his shown character by crying when he punishes his children harshly. When a person cries it means that they show compassion but papa still uses cruel punishment so they don’t add up with each other. On page 212 papa is at the bedside of kambili and tells her, “My precious daughter. Nothing will happen to you. My precious daughter”. Papa sure raises a lot of questions with this quote by promising kambili she will never get punished again but abuse is a known fact that it gets worse and escalates. He’s such a religious man that is near impossible to stop accustomed ways.
Overall this Novel has a lot of twists and turns incorporated into it. The characters are very different and outrageous in their own ways. Every character brings action and emotion into the novel by ending up in eyeballing situations such as papa Nnukwu death. Surprising events that makes the reader really surprised such as Kambili having a crush on the priest to Jaja’s rebellious behavior. In general The author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie makes the reader feel a lot of emotions meanwhile leaves us wanting more of the novel and leaves us hanging on the edge of our seat.
The Themes Of Abuse in “Purple Hibiscus” And “Goodnight Mr. Tom”
Purple Hibiscus and Goodnight Mr. Tom are two novels that openly explore the themes of abuse, specifically abuse that is both physical and emotional however it must be noted that these novels are not from the same genre. Purple Hibiscus is classified as a bildungsroman while Goodnight Mr. Tom falls into both historical fiction and children’s literature. The theme of abuse linked with religious intolerance and beliefs will be the central focus of this analysis.
Purple Hibiscus is set in Nigeria in the city Enugu, Nsukka and their home village. Enugu is where Kambili lives with Jaja, mama and papa. Enugu despite being a city is only described in particular areas that being Kambili’s school, their home and church. It affectively showed the contrast of living in a big city but being confined to a restricted to a lifestyle. It is only in Nsukka at aunty Ifeoma home and their home village they are they able to venture out their home and experience freedom as they were no longer in an environment papa had full control over. Kambili’s home is described as being large and a structure of wealth but the grand spaces in the home left Kambili feeling empty as their house was only filled with silence. Whereas Aunty Ifeoma’s home despite being in a poorer condition it’s small side and togetherness gave her a feeling sanctuary unlike home did.
In Goodnight Mr. Tom Willie lives in a slum like party of the city in London and there he faces the excessive abuse at home from his mother and bullying at school and a rubbish filled area. The book is set during World War 2 when children where evacuating London and went to the countryside due to the bomb raids. London became a darkened damp city full of hikers and death linked to that setting is Willoies abuse. Little weir wood the countryside is a utopia away from London where colour is first introduced in the book where the meadows and the blueberries are described vividly.
Purple Hibiscus is written in the first person narrator and is told from Kambili’s point of view. The novel is written in two parts where part one of the books is set in the past but starts off from present day but then part 2 continues from present day there are also no chapter numbers which is effective because the book as buildings roman and is structurally representative of growth and growth is not chronologically happens at different parts of the novel so there are no chapter numbers and new parts starts next to the image of leaves. The writing is extremely descriptive because of the nature of Kambili’s personality being soft spoken and she as the narrator experiences much of the world visually and aurally. Whereas in Goodnight Mr. Tom if I s written in third person and allows the reader to understand the events from the perspective of multiple characters throughout the story. Due a nature of it being intended to be a part of children’s literature it’s most probable that the book is written in this format as if the story is being told by someone else as you would narrate a story to a child but with very mature themes.
Purple hibiscuses are symbolic in the novel and the title refers to the flowers created by Aunty Ifeoma’s botanist friend, as hibiscuses aren’t usually purple. Jaja is struck by the appearance of the flower, and through them he discovers his love of gardening.
which become a crucial part of his opening up and independence in Nsukka. He takes some stalks of purple hibiscus back to Enugu and plants them there because of its role in Jaja and Kambili’s mental awakening, the purple hibiscus symbolizes freedom and individuality – things they lack under Papa’s rule, but find in Nsukka with Aunty Ifeoma. The title of Goodnight Mr. Tom is symbolic because of the terror Wille faced at home due to the wrath of his mother but the fact that towards the end of the novel Willie said ‘goodnight’ to Tom signals his transition from the boy who dreaded waking up in the morning to a keen and bright young boy who genuinely couldn’t wait for the next day.
In Goodnight Mr. Tom several characters help shape theme of abuse in the novel: Willie who is the protagonist, Mr. Tom Oakley, Zach and the antagonist his mother. Willie can be described as being fragile, vulnerable, neglected, fearful and socially awkward. The very first description of him is “The boy was thin and sickly-looking, pale with limp sandy hair and dull grey eyes.” Mr. Tom notices the bruises on Willie’s shin and thighs and questions him about how he got those bruises but Willie lifts his socks and hides it away. Mr Tom then goes through Willie’s belongings and finds a note left by his mother attached to the belongings. The note explained that he was a sinful boy who promised to be good but she packed a belt just in case it was needed to flog him. Mr. Tom was enraged by this and said to Willie “While you’re in my house,” he said in a choked voice, “you’ll live by my rules. I don’t ever hit a child and if I ever do it’ll be with the skin of me hand. You got that?”’. Willie then silently cries tears of Joy as Mr Tom had walked out of the room.
Willie meets a fellow evacuee named Zach who becomes his best friend in the novel Zach is a flamboyant, carefree and artistic boy who throughout the novel uplifts Willie. Willie who was used to being forgotten about was overwhelmed by Zach’s generosity. It was Zach who discovered Willie’s talent of drawing and praises him for it by suggesting he paint the scenery for the school play on Christmas. Willie was always told that he could never do art because it was reserved for the smarter children but Zach awakens Willie’s self-confidence, imagination and intelligence which was hidden inside Willie’s battered body all along. When Willie is called back home and his mother sees him at the train station it was stated that “Here stood an upright, well-fleshed boy in sturdy ankle boots, thick woolen socks, a green rolled-top jersey, and a navy blue coat and balaclava. His hair stuck out in a shiny mass above his forehead and his cheeks were round and pink” a vast contrast as to how he first appeared in the beginning.
Willie’s mother is excessively abusive, oppressive, and authoritative and uses religion as basis of justifying her abuse towards Willie. Neighbors often describe her as a “Bible thumper”. Her authoritative nature is evident when she sees Willie at the station “It was a great shock to her. She had expected him to be more subservient but even his voice sounded louder”. He returns home and he finds that he has a baby sister waiting for him. He speaks to his mother about his time in Little weir wood and she fears that weir wood had made him a sinner. She beats him and knocks him down unconscious and locks him in a room underneath the stairs where he is tied to a pole with his baby sister is in his arms. Mr. Tom manages to rescue him but his baby sister had already died in his arms. His mother is found dead of a suicide a month later. Mr. Tom is a nurturing and loving paternal figure for Willie. He takes Willie to the doctor upon seeing all his bruises and he teaches Willie how to read and write as he adores him as a son.
In Purple Hibiscus Kambili is a heavily indoctrinated, silenced, feeble and lonesome fifteen year old girl who lives in a patriarchal, religiously conservative, and oppressive household run by her father. Her father (who is referred to as Papa or his first name Eugene in the novel) gives off the impression of a god loving and giving Christian businessman adored in their city of Enug where they live but truly operates in a tyrannical manner at home. Kambili and her brother Jaja are given schedules which Papa created for them and they are to follow these schedules throughout each week majority of their time was to be devoted to studying and the rest of their time to prayer even going to the extent of scheduling when they should eat and be given free time. Papa would use violence as a form of punishment but would say he did it in the name of love or god. His abuse and her fear of her father causes her to become very drawn back and mute in many environments away from home. At school and at Aunty Ifeomea’s home (her father’s sitster) she’s picked on for being a snob because of her wealth and her refusal to speak to others as she’s only responds when she is directly spoken to. After many of these scenes she describes her desire for the words to come out so she can express how she feels. Father Amadi a young pastor who Kambili develops a crush on is the first character to see that behind her salience was a story and he embraces Kambili and it is in their relationship that Kambili is free of the constraints her father had put on her mentally and physically.
The most crucial scene of abuse is when Papa discovers Kambili with a painting of their late grandfather papa Nnuku who he considered a heathen because he was a traditionalist and not a Christian. He tears the picture and severely kicks Kambili but she remains defiant and lies on the floor and continues to be beaten and at this point she understands the unjust ways of her father after having being with Aunty Ifeoma and Father Amadi. Papa cried as she had to be taken to hospital as and Kambili’s body pained all over. Jaja and Mama are severely abused as well but it is Mama who chooses to poison Papa resulting in his death. Jaja decides to act as if he committed the offence and he ends up going to jail as he feels that has he failed protect his mother during her marriage to Papa. Kambili is able to reclaim her voice after the death of her father and when she speaks to her mother on her way to visit Jaja in jail as he is soon to be released she says “We will take Jaja to Nsukka first, and then we’ll go to America to visit Aunty Ifeoma,’ I said. ‘We’ll plant new orange trees in Abba when we come back, and Jaja will plant purple hibiscus, too, and I’ll plant ixora so we can suck the juices of the flowers.’ I am laughing. I reach out and place my arm around Mama’s shoulder and she leans toward me and smiles.
Both novel both affectively showed how abuse can hinder and stunt the growth of individuals and it particularly important that it was down in the viewpoint of children as those are seen as the years in which we grow most and develop character. Both Purple Hibiscus and Goodnight Mr. Tom were able to emphasize the importance of independence and freedom in one’s mentality, physically and spiritual being and that one can only be able to grow without the chains of oppressions.
Gender Roles in Purple Hibiscus
Paper II: Purple Hibiscus
To what extent do male and female literary characters accurately reflect the role of men and women in society?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie uses dominance, control and power to accurately reflect the role of male literary characters and silence and oppression to reflect the role of female literary characters in society in Purple Hibiscus. Eugene Achike has power over his family, companies and newspaper which leads to a desire of abusive control which can be seen through his family relationships. Obiora and Jaja assume the role of dominance, like an older son who was lacking a father figure and cared about the well-being of his family would. Beatrice Achike nurtures her children and plans for them, regardless of the abuse and oppression she undergoes due to her husband.
Eugene Achike, referred to as Papa, is one of the main characters present in Purple Hibiscus. He is the father of Kambili, the narrator of the book. Papa is dedicated to his religious studies, as well as his snack companies and being the editor of the newspaper he works for. Kambili is talking about the new baby while characterizing her father when she says, “Kambili was written in bold letters on top of the white sheet of paper, just as Jaja was written on the schedule about Jaja’s desk in his room…Papa liked order.” (pg.23) Papa wanting order or control in the household is similar to the stereotypical role of men in a household. In many forms of literature, men are perceived as the “bread-winners.” According to dictionary.com, a bread-winner a person supporting a family with his or her earnings. This can be seen again when Kambili doesn’t place first in her class and her father takes her to school to look for Chinwe Jideze and points out the fact that she only has one head, the same advantages that Kambili has, so Chinwe should not do any better than Kambili. “’Why do you think I work so hard to give you and Jaja the best? You have to do something with all these privileges,’” (pg. 47) shows Papa believes the structural influence he puts in Kambili’s and Jaja’s life is beneficial, since when he was growing up he didn’t have these privileges of a private Christian school or transportation from a personal driver.
Another example of how Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s characters reflect gender roles in society is the relationship between Obiora and Aunty Ifeoma. Similar to the controlling, bread-winner role Papa has on his family, it is a western cliché that if the father is missing from the family, the oldest son will assume that role. On page 74, it is revealed that Amaka’s, Obiora’s and Chiaku’s father got into a car accident, and that was the reason he was not present in their lives. When Kambili and Jaja are visiting Nsukka, Obiora tells Amaka to stop being mean to Kambili, siphons fuel for Aunty Ifeoma’s car and slaughters chickens for his family. This shows dominance and responsibility within Obiora, where he assumes a role within his family, something that Jaja wishes he had. Towards the end of the story, after Papa dies and Mama is broken, Jaja says “I should have taken care of Mama. Look how Obiora balances Aunty Ifeoma’s family on his head, and I am older than he is. I should have taken care of Mama.” (pg. 289) Jaja feels this need of dominance like his father, earlier in the book when he kneels next to his mother on Palm Sunday and helps her pick up the broken ballet figurines and tells her to be careful, like a caring husband might do for his wife. This also can be seen when Jaja takes the blame for his father’s death.
A female character which accurately reflects the role of women in society is Beatrice Achike, also known as Mama. Not all married women are sheltered and silent, and subjects of marital abuse, however the majority of mothers are caring and want what is best for their children. This can be seen many times from Kambili’s perspective. Mama’s characterization begins when Kambili is in her room studying and Mama brings her uniforms in so that they wouldn’t get rained on. Mama and Kambili share a moment, like any other relationship between a mother and daughter, when Mama tells Kambili she is pregnant. When Kambili and Jaja come home from Nsukka, and their father pours boiling water on their feet for walking into sin, Mama is there to comfort Kambili afterwards. “Tears were running down her face…She mixed salt with cold water and gently plastered the gritty mixture onto my feet. She helped me out of the tub, made to carry me on her back to my room, but I shook my head…” (pg. 195) This shows Mama assuming the role of a woman, of a mother, the role to be caring and protective of her children. Finally, Mama chooses to protect her children by killing the man who oppressed and abused them since they were little. “’I started putting poison in his tea before I came to Nsukka…,’” (pg. 290) Mama tells her questioning children. We can assume that she did this because of the harm he was inflicting on her and her children.
Throughout Purple Hibiscus, the gender roles between the characters stays constant. One is able to see the inborn struggles between each character and the problems that are caused because of each struggle. The oppression of the Mama and the care Mama gives to her children accurately represents female roles in society. The power struggle in Papa is also extremely evident with the way he treats everyone in the family. Obiora’s need to care for his family when his father is not present also shows a role of a young man in society. Adichie does a great job representing each facet in the roles of each character.