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Deadly Patriarchy and The Role of Familial Oppression and Silence in Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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In the acclaimed novel “Purple Hibiscus” composed by Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the narrative is dominated by the themes of systematic silence and abuse. The Achike family unit involved father Eugene, mother Beatrice, girl Kambili and child Jaja, is constantly brimming with calm pressure. The family is a well-off and advantaged Nigerian family, headed by Eugene, a fruitful specialist, and a faithful Catholic convert. Eugene is a caring and liberal father and spouse, however, he has a loathsome rough streak; he regularly flies into an attack of anger at the trace of religious tactlessness, lashing out with an uncontrollable rage and harsh punishments. Beatrice, Kambili and Jaja have all endured his wrath. His demeanor and attitude forces the family into an almost militant like obedience of him, Eugene’s fierce male-centric power has stolen the voices of the other relatives, causing a profound established silence instilled in every relative. His upheavals are fierce and frequently, yet the family does not transparently examine any of this strain. They disregard it, imagining it doesn’t occur, and rapidly continue their exercises. The silence is peculiar and thick, and Kambili feels ‘choked’ by it. In “Purple Hibiscus”, Eugene serves as a powerful manipulator, who assumes the role of colonizer within his own family.

The monstrous viciousness portrayed in Eugene is mirrored with a shockingly easygoing state of mind. Ogaga Okuyade clarifies this in his paper “Changing Borders and Creating Voices: Silence as Character in Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus;’When Kambili portrays the issues of domestic abuse, she does as such with a feeling of conventionality and haziness that one can barely depict Eugene’s home as a residential combat area. From her account, it appears as though life partner beating is an ordinary marvel’. After one episode of Beatrice being mercilessly beaten by Eugene, the kids simply watch as he slings her limp body behind him, trickling blood through the lobby and down the stairs, to which Jaja comments, ‘There’s blood on the floor. I’ll get the brush from the restroom’. The children at that point sit and clean their mom’s blood off the foyer floor, and Kambili envisions to herself that it is basically painted from ‘a spilling jug of red watercolor’). They have moved toward becoming desensitized to the viciousness and hostility and stay silent, complacent, anesthetized.

Another instance of this rash behavior comes in the form of Eugene destroying possessions that were very close to Beatrice’s heart. ‘… Papa flung his substantial missal over the room and broke the figurines’. Adichie all of a sudden tosses a situation at the reader, enabling the reader to choose what kind of character Papa is and how he responds to his condition. This additionally can give the reader a chance to comprehend what a dynamic character can appear to be at first, and what they can transform into throughout the story.

Jaja and Kambili’s tortured family life is not easy to deal with. They communicate about it through a homemade language called ‘the dialect of the eyes’ (Adichie 305) or through unobtrusive comments that need no elaboration. While talking about their mom’s pregnancy, Jaja says to Kambili, ‘We will protect him’, and Kambili contemplates internally, ‘I realized that Jaja implied from Papa, yet I didn’t say anything in regards to securing the infant’. Jaja does not need to expressly name the risk from which they should secure the unborn child; the significance of his words is implied.As a result of this familial abuse and control communicates that Kambili has turned out to be so deadened mentally that she battles to try and talk about the most unremarkable of things. These mysteries weigh most vigorously on Kambili herself, whose continuous powerlessness to talk displays how profoundly her mental capacity has been stunted. When going to visit her Aunty in Nsukka, Kambili frequently ends up stammering out stifled answers to any individual who dares ask her a question. At the point when Father Amadi mentions the fact that he has not seen her smile throughout the entire day, she turns away and does not answer. She considers, ‘I looked down at my corn. I wanted to state I was sad that I didn’t grin or giggle, yet my words would not come’. Close relative Ifeoma intervenes by simply brushing it off and saying ‘She is modest’. Obviously, Kambili is more than timid; she is petrified, she wants to be able to conversate however she remains apprehensive that her words will get her stuck in her throat, an unfortunate insecurity profoundly imparted in her by her dad. Her silence is an image of her frailty and her battle to discover both her inner and outer voice.

Despite this mental oppression, the children still love their father and their home, complete with its rigid rules and standards. When they depart from it in the story, they are eager to return to its broken familiarity. A case of this is when Kambili returns from Nsukka and enters the compound of her home in Enugu. ‘The walls secured the smell of the maturing cashews and mangoes and avocados. It disgusted me’. Kambili knew her house was what she missed and what she ached. Be that as it may, when she returns from Nsukka, her home abruptly makes her vibe suffocated and uninviting. The poisonous environment of her home is so uncomfortable that it becomes comfortable for Kambili and she misses it when she is away. The dysfunction and abuse brainwash Kambili and make her feel as though she needs them to survive.

Fortunately, the longer time Kambili spend away from her home and Papa, the more she sees it for the danger it is and begins to appreciate life outside of their compound and out from under Papa’s thumb. Nsukka begins as a remote place, however then turns into a home for Kambili. After Kambili and the reader both set up the way that Nsukka is a position of solace, Aunty Ifeoma leaves Nsukka and Nsukka just turn into a memory. ‘… the long grasses stick up like green bolts. The statue of the trimming lion never again glimmers’. With the loss of Aunty Ifeoma, Nsukka isn’t what it used to be. It represents yet another broken home and a misplaced family unit that Kambili must now heal herself from. It isn’t a moment home any longer, nor is it a place for comfort. It has turned into a memory, lost of all fervor and unwinding. Beside Nsukka, Kambili needs to encounter a difference in the area when her family visits Abba every year, the place where they grew up. ‘Our home still blew my mind, the four-story white glory of it’. Kambili depicts this house as though it is the home she would wish to live in for eternity. She has completely overlooked what her real home resembles. The home that she cherishes so much has now recently turn out to be some other place. What this shows is that places one once knew as home change over time, and even though something is commonplace, it has the ability to feel remote before long. The same can be said for individuals and characters. One individual may seem a certain way, but then be completely different after a period of change. This method of changing and adapting, and become new effects relatively every character in the story. Kambili, who has dependably become immune to harsh techniques for learning, begins to end up plainly a ‘typical’ individual in the story. For instance, Kambili acknowledges how much her close relative and cousin’s laugh and smile. Kambili is never used to any of this. She first begins to change when she says, ‘That night, I envisioned that I was giggling’.

Towards the finish of the novel, Kambili is accustomed to laughing and talking and singing. ‘I sang as I showered’. Not exclusively does this demonstrate Kambili can finally freely laugh and sing, it additionally demonstrates that she is doing new things that she could never before imagine. Next, Jaja begins as a defender towards Kambili and exceptionally faithful to Papa. Adichie, in any case, makes it clear that Jaja will change. He begins hanging out with his cousins more and the relationships amongst Kambili and Jaja starts to debilitate. It is obviously evident Jaja has turned into another individual when he assumes the fault for his dad’s demise, somebody who he had been isolating far from. ‘He revealed to them he had utilized rodent poison, that he place it in Papa’s tea’ (Adichie 291).Finally, the character who most seemed least likely to change is Amaka. Amaka is depicted as Kambili’s bombastic cousin who doesn’t particularly like her. ”Are you certain they’re not strange, mother? Kambili just carried on like an atulu when my friends came”. After Kambili comes out of her shell, Amaka approaches her with deference, which shocks Kambili. ‘She pushed ahead to incline toward the railings, her shoulders brushing mine. The past is the past.’ What this demonstrates is the slip-ups Amaka made, how she understands that Kambili was not what she initially thought to be. Kambili understands that Amaka was just acting pretentious on the grounds that she misjudged Kambili. At last, both understand their mistakes and every one of the characters understands their previous lifestyles were brimming with gaps, and their new lives have filled in the holes. Adichie unites every one of the characters by making them dynamic and allowing them to change throughout the novel.

“Purple Hibiscus” is a novel ripe with the lesson that “love is blind”. Within the story, the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride with the Achike family as they fight for existence underneath the oppressive abuse of the patriarch, Eugene. In this piece, he represents the same kind of violent dominance imposed upon the continent of Africa by colonizers. Within his household, he represents the White English man, who comes through and ravishes the beautiful natives and native villages for his own personal ego and gain. The main character, Kamibili, demonstrates the effects of a country that has been the victim of colonization. She struggles to find her own voice and establish an identity while being under his thumb and rules. She can barely speak up for herself and finds that every ounce of her life is controlled by him and his persona. She, like a struggling country, needs help standing on her own two feet, but slowly throughout the piece, the reader watches as she learns how to do so. Through the counteractive remedy of family love and appreciation that she finds at her Aunty’s house, she is able to blossom like a butterfly and finally find her own place in the world. Consequently, as this is happening, her father dies in the story. It is as if the author juxtaposed these events to represent that once the colonized began to find their power and worth again, they represent an unstoppable force to the colonizer. As Kambili rises, her father passes away and so does his tight grip on her life.

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Deadly Patriarchy And The Role Of Familial Oppression And Silence In Purple Hibiscus By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 26, 2022, from
“Deadly Patriarchy And The Role Of Familial Oppression And Silence In Purple Hibiscus By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
Deadly Patriarchy And The Role Of Familial Oppression And Silence In Purple Hibiscus By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Jun. 2022].
Deadly Patriarchy And The Role Of Familial Oppression And Silence In Purple Hibiscus By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Sept 01 [cited 2022 Jun 26]. Available from:
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