The Portrayal of Gender Roles in Purple Hibiscus and I Am Malala

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

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.

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