ANALYZING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN PURPLE HIBISCUS BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Life and work of author
Purpose of study
Scope of study
Definition of terms – violence and oppression
CHAPTER TWO: SOCIETAL ILLS AND LITERARY DEVICES
The physical and psychological implication of violence and oppression
Literary devices in purple hibiscus
CHAPTER THREE: THEMES IN PURPLE HIBISCUS
Theme of religion
Theme of domestic violence
Theme of silence
Theme of colonialism
CHAPTER FOUR: CONCLUSION
Violence which is a cruel and unfair way of treating people is clearly examined in Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.
Purple Hibiscus is a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which features the life of an oppressed teenager obsessed by the ill treatment and the physical and psychological abuse meted on her, Jaja, her brother and Beatrice their mother.
Purple Hibiscus is the story of Kambili, who is fifteen years old first protagonist she lives in the violent and repressive atmosphere of her father who physically abuses her meek mother, herself and Jaja her brother, by beating them into submission. Yet he is a pillar of the community. He is an avid catholic church man, a very successful businessman and most puzzlingly, he is also a brave and incompatible defender of democracy in Nigeria.
The author of the novel denounces violence and oppression by Over-religious fathers, as the protagonist is empowered in the narrative to come out though her mother’s final act of self annihilation.
LIFE AND WORK OF AUTHOR
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born on September 15th, 1977. She is a writer from the Easter part of Nigeria. She has been called “The Most Prominent” of a profession of critically acclaimed young Anglophone authors that is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers in African literature”. She was born in Enugu, but grew up in Nsukka where the University of Nigeria is situated. Her father a Professor of Statistics and her mother the Registrar of the University of Nigeria made sure she lacked nothing in her growing up age.
Adichie studied Medicine and Pharmacy of the University of Nigeria for a year and half. During this period, she edited the “Compass, a Magazine run by the University’s Catholic Medical Students. At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria and moved to the United States for College. After studying Communication and Political Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, she transferred to Eastern Conuectical State University to live close to her sister who had a medical practice in conventry. She received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern where she graduates summa cum laude in 2001.
In 2003, she completed a Master’s Degree in creative writing at John Hopkins University. In 2008, she received a Master of Arts in African studies in Yale University.
She has written a number of short stories like “you in America’, that “Harmattan Morning” which won the O. Henry prize for the American embassy. She also won the David T. Wong international short story prize 2002/2003. The book received wide critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Orange prizes for fiction (2004) her second novel, “Half of a yellow sun”. Named after the flag of the short story lived nation of Biafra, is set before and during the Biafran war, it was awarded the 2007 prize for fiction. Her third book, the “thing around your neck” is a collection of short stories published in 2009. Adichie has delivered several high profile talks and lectures including “the danger of a single story for TED in 2009 and on March 15th, 2012 at the guildhall, London, the “connecting cultures” commonwealth lecture 2012.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this study is to examine how Nigerian novelists portray domestic violence in their works, but in this paper, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus will be the text to examine.
The purpose of this text is also to examine how Purple Hibiscus, is typical of how the Nigerian novel engages itself in issues of ideology, and self assertion.
SCOPE OF STUDY
In Purple Hibiscus Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tries to communicate ideas and meaning with appealing narrative devices. She also tries to communicate the negative effect of violence and oppression, through religious fanaticism. The novel is divided into four sections, and this will be examined in the course of this work.
The method of getting information for this work in order to do a thorough job, includes information from the primary material while is the novel, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, library research, such as text books, research papers, internet materials and journals. In other words it is written as opposed to an oral research.
DEFINITION OF TERMS: VIOLENCE AND OPPRESSION
The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary seventh edition defines violence as “violent behaviour that is indented to hurt or kill somebody”. Violence as presented in Purple Hibiscus ranges from within the family to the larges society.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie uses her novel Purple Hibiscus to portray domestic violence within the family.
Wikipedia.com, defines oppression as the exercise or authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. Oppression as presented in is the irrationality of man to his fellow man.
1.6 LITERATURE REVIEW
Quite a number of writers have done numerous works on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and the significance of the story. Few of the writers include Bill Broun, Ranti Williams, on a review he titled “fiction”, A Moveable Feast, A Nigerians coming of age with her boisterous relatives yields appetizing results, he says, Americans have no problem eating a big Mac with their hands, but get then to venture into a West African Restaurant, where forming balls of fufu (a think yam porridge) with the fingers is de rigueur, and they will suddenly go Edwardian on you. “What? No Silver? If the breath taking debut of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie does nothing else (and it does considerably more), it shows that Nigerian gastronomy is a mannered and complex as anything in Europe or America.
But Purple Hibiscus is more than a sub-Saharan version of Isak Dinesen’s “Babette’s Feast” with cassava lumps replacing baguettes. In this Maturation tale about the Shelter Kambili Achike, a fifteen-year-old Igbo girl of devastating shyness, the frequent meals help assert a vision of middle class life that impugn postcolonial pessimism and fear about Africa Adichie’s picture of Nigerian domesticity is troubled, to be sure – the story takes place in a time similar to Gen. Sani Abacha’s Junta years (1993-1998) and it shaped fundamentally by political upheavals around it. But so were the characters in Dinesen’s other famous work, out of Africa that quintessential fantasy of 20th century Africa where only whites are granted complex inferior lives.
While the action mostly takes place after a coupled by an Abacha – like monster named Big Oga, the novel’s painstaking tensions more immediately unfold through a “food” problem at home. Kambili and her brother, jaja, have nervously returned after a Palm Sunday mass during which jaja definitely refused to eat communion because the “water”, he claims, gives him bad breath. For their tyrannical father, Eugene, this is a spiritual outrage and a family betrayer. A successful factory owner and politically daring newspaper publisher in the city of Enugu, and a Big Man within his Umunna, or extended family, Engene is generous and hardworking. But he uses Catholicism as a matrix of control over the ignorance and disorder he perceives around him. He finds pliant corroborations in the reactionary parish priest, father Benedict, a British Missionary who re-Latinizes the liturgy and frowns on lively Igbo handclapping in church. Kambilis mother, Beatrice, is a gentle but impotent character who softens but cannot stop Engenes relentless stamping out of “sin” and imperfection. Part JFK, part citizen Charles Foster Kane, Eugene tells his daughter, “Because God has given you much, he expects much from you”. Indeed, far too much.
Adichie is at her best in giving the traumatized Kambili a playful individual dignity that challenges the humorless power-mongering of her father, and her country’s dictators. When Engene’s paper criticizes the dictatorship and is forced underground, Kambili refleds: “I knew that publishing underground meant that the newspaper would be published from a secret location. Yet I imagined … the staff in an office beneath the ground, on fluorescent lamp flooding the dark room, the men bent over their desks, writing the truth”. As Adichie later suggests, however, political truth has limitations. In this thinking, she is very much the 21st century daughter of other great Igbo novelist, Chinua Achebe.
When Kambili and Jaja get the chance to visit their monthly Aunt Ifeoma, a University lecturer in the town of Nsukka, they go fearfully, carrying written schedules from their father in their pockets. Aunt Ifeoma takes the ridiculous schedules away, and both young people for the first time taste “a different kind of freedom”. They learn to appreciate the animistic spirit world of their papa-Nnukwu, or grandpa, the humble but infinitely happier meal – making Aunt Ifeoma’s boisterous family, and, through the denim-wearing priest named father Amadi, a more humane Catholicism. As the novels later tragedies hit, Kambili finds herself with an unexpectedly strong new emotional foundation, one based on cooperation, tolerance and female power.
The novels organization is conventional, the prose muscular. One minor shortcoming is Adichie’s tendency to repeat certain imagery or gestures beyond thematic efficacy. The human throat and eyes are mentioned too often, as are Aunt Ifeoma’s and her family’s “Cacles”. Adichie, who was born in 1977, has time to refine her prose.
And be warned: The eating never stops in Purple Hibiscus (the titular blooms are themselves edible, of course). Nearly every page holds something tasty: plates of jollof and coconut rice, botlles of cashew juice, road side vendors hawking bread in hot banana leaves, cow horns full of palm win. In one sense, the story is long, spectacular meal of several seatings over several days. It enough to drive a hapless American to try cooking that most famous dish of west Afica egusi. Now will someone pass the fufu, please? Reviewed, Bill Broun ,Sunday, January 4, 2004, Bill Broun Lectures in the English Department at Yale University, where he is a resident follow at Timothy Dwight College
According to Ranti Williams, on what he titled “An Igbo Patriarch”.
Post-Colonial Nigeria has produced a notable tradition of prose writing from which comes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which tells of a teenager watching her family break down in a county that is doing the same. As in many post – colonial societies, the personal and political are inseparable. Although here the disintegration of the Nigerian State (a military coup takes place earlier in the story) is as nothing compared to the fracturing family at the centre of the novel. The events take place in Igbo land in Eastern Nigeria, and the narrator fifteen – year – old Kambili, is the obedient, only daughter of a harsh Roman Catholic Patriarch, Eugene, a big man and wealthy local manufacture in the city of Enugu. Engene is the proprietor of a newspaper in which at considerable personal cost, he bravely champions freedom of speech against military tyranny at the same time as he rules his home with the most tyrannical of iron grips.
Adichie builds a complex picture of a man struggling with his own demons, taking out his struggles on those he loves: his wife, Beatrice, son, Jaja, and Kambili herself. It should be hard to sympathize with a man who beats his pregnant wife and who, after deploring the soldiers torture of his editor with lighted cigarettes, pour boiling water over the very feet of his adored daughter as a punishment for coming second on class. And yet Engene self-made and ultimately self nasing, is the books loneliest character: his misunderstanding of Christianity has led him to reject the animist beliefs of his own ageing father and to repudiate the old man himself, perversely hating the sinner more than the sin. Kambili writes “her father at one point: “it was…as if something weighed him down, something he could not throw off”.
The novels picture of modern Nigeria is an authentic one; it depicts a land full of potentials and with an educated middle class, a country in which a coup can suddenly erupt and a local newspaper editor can be killed for what he writers; a place whose inhabitants are aware of their nations flaws and yet are fiercely patriotic, loath to emigrate until things get truly desperate. This the fate of Engenes sister, Ifeoma, a widowed university lecturer, Iter household is the opposite of Engene’s, she allows her children’s relative freedom of expression and thus introduces Kambili and Jaja to a world beyond their strictly regimented home, with the result that they cannot return without the unraveling of their tightly wound family life.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s main strength is dialogue as her characters speak, one hears the voices of modern Nigeria. Her descriptions, however, sometimes lack subtlety and she has a tendency to overdo the symbolism: objects breaks as the family falls apart; the Purple Hibiscus runs rampant over the tidy garden as the children and their mother test their freedom. The narrative voice mostly convinces as the naïve tone of a sheltered child facing the adult world, although, at times Kambili can sound simply disingenuous. This is particularly true of the treatment of her school girl crush on the impossibly virtuous young catholic curate, who is the books only unconvincing character. Over all Purple Hibiscus, which has been shortlisted for the commonwealth writers prize, is a compelling tale told well by a confident voice with much potential for the future “According to Norah Vawter”, Purple Hibiscus is the debut novel of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a flavorful, intense story of an unhappy family, and also of Nigeria’s show recovery from colonialism. Kambili lives with her brother and parents in a huge compound in Enugu, Nigeria. A smart fifteen year old who is trying to overcome her shyness, Kambili narrates the story from beginning to end. She is one of those narrators who lets you read between the lines, who doesn’t give away too much, and often seems smarter than the adults. Around the bare bones of the plot, she wraps detail upon detail of domestic life. I could almost taste the moi-moi and cashew juice, could almost see the end and Purple Hibiscus in the flowerbeds. Our yard was wide enough to hold a hundred people dancing atilogu”, Adichie writes, “spacious enough for each dancer to do the usual somersaults and land on the next dander’ shoulder. The compound walls, topped by coiled electric wives, were so high I could not see the cars driving by on our street”.
There is a long tradition in literature of oppressive and angry fathers. Kambili’s father has two sides, at least, each resonates clearly with the reader, making the father a complex and compelling character. A lesser author would have turned him into a simple villain. Adichie does not engine is a successful businessman, a pillar of the community who owns a factory and a newspaper that courageously condemns injustice. He is fiercely religious, devoted to Catholicism, to God and purity. He beats his wife and children ever time they sin or fail to live up to his expectations. Engine does rush them to the hospital on a number of occasions, and its obvious that he cares for his family. Kambili and her brother Jaja, both teenagers, are almost machine - like father’s wrath at all costs. Their mother, Beatrice, seems beaten down by the abuse she has taken and watched. She nurses the children’s would and chooses colour for the curtain.
What makes purple Hibiscus so interesting is the position of the family within the larges picture of Nigeria. This is a story about Nigeria’s recovery from colonialism because Engene was among the first generation to come to to school, children needed to convert to Christianity, so Engene and many of his contemporaries did. He takes the teaching so seriously that he condemns all practice of his native religion, and becomes uptight and self-righteous. Religion is everything. Perfection is the goal. He accepts nothing short of perfection from himself or his family. Every time they slip, he punishes them. Just how much he punishes himself I sup to the4 reader to ascertain. We are left wondering how deep the wounds go, and who we should root for.
Purple Hibiscus begins with a nod to Chinua Achebe, “Things began to fall apart at home 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. “The novel tracks his family as the chilly, icebound other begins to break down, and something new replaces it. Visiting their aunt and her three children, Kambili and Jaja get a chance to see how a more ordinary, relaxed family functions. They come to know their “heathen grandfather, whom Eugene will not see because he insists on practicing his traditional Igbo religion. For all its subtle, quiet storytelling, it is an exciting book, with too many climaxes to name. Adichie kept bricking me, making me think I had figured everything out before coming to yet another climatic scene.
When I began reading this book, I thought it was of story of adolescence, of a bright young girl coming of age. I expected more hormones, more rebellion, more Kambili. Instead I find that Kambili is telling a story that is bigger than she is. She could be called a protagonist, but oftentimes her job is to watch, to try to understand, to follow. The narration is her chance to speak, something she rarely does in her life at the beginning. Painfully shy, even around her family, Purple Hibiscus gives Kambili the chance to find her own voice.
The novel deals adeptly with themes of language and silence. It is written in English and peppered with Igbo, the local language that Kambili’s family speaks. The result is a text that seems richer and more layered than it would have otherwise, but there is more to this. Characters speak English is formal settings and Igbo in informal ones. The father rarely speaks Igbo. Sometimes when he is angry he speaks in Igbo; other times he says a very long prayer in English.
Just as the book’s characters speak English in formal settings they also behave differently in public and private. Throughout the book, characters struggle with the task of communication. This is a novel of silence, of things left unsaid. It raises more questions than it answers. Is Kambili a storyteller, and why can she say things in her narrative that she would never say to her family? Why is silence so important to communication? This is no easy book. Early on, I thought it might have a moral or might fit into a box, but Adichie surprised me by showing how complex these characters really are. I would recommend purple hibiscus to anyone who loves a good psychological mystery when it is wrapped up as a literary novel or to anyone who wants to bedrawn into a story by elegant language and rebust plot. This is not a delicate novel. Several times I cringed as I read of the abuse Eugene was inflicting on his children and wife. But it’s not all depressing. Kambili’s cousin, Amaka, listens to Felakuti, is a fierce young feminist and asks tough questions. Her whole family cackles when they laugh. There are scenes of laughter and warmth, laughter that is often earned as the relief from suffering.
Overall, purple hibiscus is a keeper. It is sharp, passionate, and compelling. It drew me into the narrative like I was opine of the family and kept me interested like I had a personal stake in its conclusion.
Norah Vawter is an intern at all Africa. Com, focusing on the book review page. She received her B.A. from the College of William and Mary, where she studied English Literature and edited the fiction section of the William and Mary review.
According to Liv Lewitchnik, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s debut novel, purple Hibiscus, describes a Nigerian family living in a country torn between contradictions. Although a military coup unsettles the population streets erupt with riots as soldiers hunt down dissenters the story’s main protagonist, Kambili, lives a protected life in Enugu.
Fifteen year old Kambili, her brother, Jaja, and their mother enjoy luxurious comfort inside a large house. High walls topped with electric wire shut out any disruptions. Materialistic abundance is provided by the father of the family, Eugene. He owns several factories and a democratic newspaper, and is a devote catholic Eugene is driven by religion and freedom. He refuses to be silenced by the threat of military repercussions and prints the truth as violence escalates. Amnesty international even gives him human rights awards for his efforts.
Being such a good citizen, it is surprising to discover the tyrant inside Eugene. He rules his family with won fist, forbidding them to speak Igbo in public as he proclaims English is the language of civilized people, punishing them severely for ungodly sins – such as not coming first in class – and forcing the children to follow meticulously planned schedules. Sleeping, eating and praying are measured in minutes alongside study and family time. The intensity grows when family life unfolds, laying bare the sickening behaviour of the fundamentalist father.
Eugene’s rules and the house compound imprison the family – the youngsters are only allowed sparse contact with their grandfather, a non – catholic. Abuse and mental strain flow though the story, but Eugenes crazed influence is balanced against the sincere love his family feel for him. Adichie’s writing is compelling, confident and beautiful although her story narrates quietly – perfectly describing the shy and introverted Kambili.
Low key language explains grim domestic oppression, but blooming words break with a claustrophobic world. Intricate descriptions of Nigerian food, flowers, plants and people make the book an explosion of colours, scents, culture and feelings.
As the novel advances alongside a changing Nigeria, the family structure begins to crack. The threatening outside world seeps inside the thick compound walls. Eugene’s newspaper is forced to go underground. Even the fierce December wind that cloaks the world in red Sahara sand is menacing, and the family take refuge in their whiter house in Nsukka where Eugenes sister, Ifeoma, and her three children live.
Ifeoma’s liberating, strong character enters the novel with decisive steps, bright lipstic and roaring laughter surprising Kambili and Jaja with charm, warmth and openness. Outspoken and independent, Ifeoma fights against poverty and increasing instability at the university campus where she lectures.
Kambili and Jaja go to stay in Aunty Ifeoma’s house and experience Nigerian everyday life for the first time. In the small flat, several people sleep in the same room, everyone helps with the washing up, the floors are made of cement instead of marble and praying is spiced up with singing.
Slowly Kambili and Jaja open their eyes to another reality, where anyone is allowed to discuss at the dinner table and express their thoughts. Amid poverty and sparse means, make-u9p and football set their minds free.
Adichie’s unrestrained novel is a spellbinding depiction of contrasts between rich and poor, old and new, oppression and freedom.
The 25 year old Nigerian author uses a mature and convincing language, delightfully exploring Kambili’s world against an unsettled Nigerian society – vibrant but dangerous. As with Ifeoma’s rare purple hibiscuses growing in her unruly garden, oozing defiance and beauty, the novel is captivating and should be read by those who want to see, smell and taste a piece of Nigeria.
1.7 THESIS STATEMENT
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, deeply reflect the violent and oppressive nature of men in the home and the society, the author creates characters, situations and also deploy language and literary devices that brings out most clearly her points.
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