Domestic Violence: “Purple Hibiscus” By Chimamanda Adichie

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the novel Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie the main character Kambili and her family goes through the motions of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a very serious issue that people have to go through everyday, according to statistics “ Nearly 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year. ” ( Starmer ) and “ At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence” ( Starmer ). Which shows that domestic violence is a real problem in today’s society. Kambili, Jaja, and mama all have been a victim of domestic violence in some way shape or form. Each character experiences Papa’s abuse in a different way whether it be physical abuse or mental abuse. The abuse that Kambili and Jaja go through affects them both differently. For Kambili the effects are obviously by her school work, and as for Jaja it seems as if he doesn’t get affected by it or he just doesn’t show the affects. This paper is based around the idea that domestic violence has a negative impact on the victims and can change the way they live.

The main character Kambili, has gone through a lot of trauma when it comes to her father’s abuse. Not only is she affected by the abuse her father inflicts on her directly but also her mothers abuse that she witnesses, then has to tend to. In the novel it states “ We cleaned up the trickle of blood, which trailed away as if someone had carried a leaking jar of red watercolor all the way downstairs. Jaja scrubbed while I wiped. ” ( Adichie 33 ) The significance that this quote shows is that papa just beat mama, and Kambili and Jaja go and clean up the blood immediately, almost as if it’s happened before and the children are used to it. A credible source states, “ But even if not directly abused, witnessing abuse may be as damaging psychologically. ” ( Smith ). This shows how witnessing domestic violence can make someone obey to a certain person out of fear that that could happen to them, which makes Jaja and Kambili rush to clean up the blood. Not only has Kambili witnessed the abuse but she has been on the receiving end of said abuse, as stated in the novel “ I still did not move. He started to kick me. The metal buckles on his slippers stung like bites from giant mosquitoes. ” ( Adichie 210 ). This quote is significant to the idea due to the fact that Papa has never lashed out at kambili in this way before which then changes the way Kambili, and even Mama feel about Papa. This has made Aunty Ifeoma step in and tell mama that her and the kids are coming to stay at her house in Nsukka when Kambili gets out of the hospital ( Adichie 214 ). Aunty Ifeoma has trying to protect Mama, Kambili, and Jaja from Papa by inviting them to stay with her, which shows how domestic violence needs to be escaped in whatever way it can be.

Jaja’s perspective of domestic violence starts off very early on in the novel. Papa has very high standards and strict rules in the household and jaja breaks one of these rules which unfortunately for him is one of the most important ones, going to communion. The novel states “ … Jaja, did not go to communion and papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the étagère. ” ( Adichie 1 ). For jaja this is one of the times that papa has strike fear into jaja, because this shows how papa can lose control of his emotions very easily to the point of throwing his sacred text. Jaja then stays at Aunty Ifeoma’s house for a while and begins to feel as if he has a voice like he never had when he was under papa rule, as the text says “ Jaja said in English, with authority, as if doing so would make his words come true. ” ( Adichie 183 ). This quote shows how jaja has started to find his own voice and has begun to live comfortably without papa around to keep him under strict rule. Unfortunately for Jaja, Kambili, and Mama, Papa comes to Aunty Ifeoma’s house and strips Jaja of this feeling entirely just by walking into the house. To illustrate the scene, “ Jaja came out of the kitchen then and stood staring at papa. ” ( Adichie 188 ). This quote shows how fearful Jaja is of papa and how his voice that he has only recently been able to use has been taken away without any warning and there is nothing that Jaja can do to help this.

Mama has seen the worst of it all, she has been through the most trauma throughout this novel. She has been beaten, verbally abused, and had to deal with her children being abused and not being able to say a word about it. In the beginning of the novel papa throws his missal and breaks all of mamas figurines, but she can’t say anything about it, to help explain it says in the text that “ she stared at the figurine pieces on the floor and then knelt and started to pick them up with her bare hands. ” ( Adichie 7 ). The figurines were important to mama because with papa being in the house she had no control over anything other than these figurines, the figurines were the one thing that mama had control over and papa shattered them without caring or apologizing. On top of this papa beats mama so badly that he has to take her to the hospital to stay overnight ( Adichie 33 ). And when she comes home the next morning she informs the children that “ There was an accident, the baby is gone,” ( Adichie 34 ). This shows the reader the willpower that mama has for coming home the next morning but she isn’t okay. Her eyes when she arrives home are described “ … like the eyes of those mad people who wandered around the roadside garbage dumps in town. ” ( Adichie 34 ). This is significant because it shows change in mama, it shows that she has become lost and broken due to papas constant abusive behavior. Statistics shows that “ many women are unwilling to report domestic abuse. ” ( Galvin ). But this is not the case for mama instead reporting papas domestic violence to the authorities she takes matters into her own hands and begin to add poison into papas tea, which ultimately led to his death. To support this, mama says in the novel “ I started putting the poison in his tea before I came to Nsukka. ” ( Adichie 290 ). This quote is significant because it shows how someone finally stood up to papa and did what had to be done for the greater good.

In conclusion, domestic violence is a very serious issue not only in the Purple Hibiscus but in today’s society as well. It can come in many different shapes and sizes and everyone gets affected by it differently.


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