Purple Hibiscus: Theme of Domestic Violence Against Women

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1521 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 1521|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Domestic Violence in Purple Hibiscus
  3. Impact of Violence on the Achike Family
  4. Sexism and Mistreatment in Purple Hibiscus
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works Cited


Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a novel that was set in 1960s Enugu, which is a city in post-colonial Nigeria. The story revolves around Jaja and Kambili. The novel recounts how Kambili endures an abusive father and begins to find herself amongst the political instability in the 1990s. The respectable Nigerian author Chinua Achebe was one of Adichie's most significant motivations and impacts to write this novel, and when she was a young girl Adichie's family even lived in Achebe's previous house. The first few lines of Purple Hibiscus references Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart. This essay will outline how themes such as domestic violence, family, and religion affect the notion of coming of age in Purple Hibiscus and giving more profound and significant meaning to the novel.

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Domestic Violence in Purple Hibiscus

According to the United Nations violence against women is any act that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life… (Article 1). Domestic violence, therefore, happens when a partner intentionally causes either physical or mental harm to the other spouse or other members of the family. In Purple Hibiscus Eugene Achike a well known and respected man turns out to be an extremely abusive man in his household who is extremely controlling and inflicts pain on his wife Beatrice, children, sister and father both physically and mentally. Every family differs from one another, and this is seen in Purple Hibiscus – Ifeoma and her children are a tightly knit family, filled will a lot with warmth, love and laughter towards one another, and on the other hand, some families are firmly controlled, formal, extremely materialistic yet deficient in love, concern and care. The Achicke family falls under the second category. Eugene Achicke and Beatrice have two children names Jaja and Kambili. They are a typical nuclear family. The extended family consists of Ifeoma, also known as Eugene's sister and her children, furthermore, Papa-Nnukwu, who is known as Eugene's dad. Co-picked into the family by ideals of work are Sisi the housekeeper, and Kevin, the driver and the cultivator. Through this family, Adichie portrays household life in a customary African family with the foundation of domestic violence and abuse.

Impact of Violence on the Achike Family

On numerous occasions, Papa beats Beatrice, Jaja and Kambili. Each time, he is incited by an activity that he considers unethical. At an instance, when Mama did not want to visit Father Benedict with him since she is sick, Papa beats her, and she prematurely delivers. Another instance is when Kambili and Jaja share a home with a 'heathen' in Nnsuka, scalding water is poured onto her feet since she admitted that she walked in straight through the sin. On another occasion, Kambili is kicked and beaten severely for owning artwork of Papa Nnukwu until she is hospitalized. The painting represents her final link to the departed past, which she had just begun to find. She was only bound to the history and culture her father allowed her to see she was the newly colonized land in the nation of Nigeria. Her father shaped her entire outlook; however, as Kambili enters her adolescents and womanhood, she begins to shape her own identity based on the information and experiences she had. She has begun to explore the history that has shaped her, yet with Papa Nnwuku death, Kambili loses the first-person contact with this history and must now be berated to her knowledge.

'Get up!' Papa said again. I still did not move. He started to kick me. The metal buckles on his slippers stung like bites from giant mosquitoes. He talked nonstop, out of control, in a mix of Igbo and English, like soft meat and thorny bones. Godlessness. Heathen worship. Hellfire. The kicking increased in tempo, and I thought of Amaka's music, her culturally conscious music that sometimes started with a calm saxophone and then whirled into lusty singing. I curled around myself tighter, around the pieces of the painting; they were soft, feathery. They still had the metallic smell of Amaka's paint palette. The stinging was raw now, even more like bites, because the metal landed on open skin on my side, my back, my legs. Kicking. Kicking. Kicking. Perhaps it was a belt now because the metal buckle seemed too heavy. Because I could hear a swoosh in the air (211).

This resulted in Kambili going to the hospital. At the hospital, she begins taking tablets and injections while her father was near her saying 'my precious daughter. Nothing will happen to you. My precious daughter' (212). This suggests to the reader that he feels guilty about beating his daughter, but it is a form of parenting in Eugene's eyes, so his children will not do something unethical. Kambili got beaten up and punished by her father merely because she is finding herself within tradition and modernity.

Furthermore, Eugene legitimizes the beatings he delivers onto his family, saying it is to their benefit. The beatings have rendered his children quiet. Kambili and Jaja are both astute past their years and not permitted to have their own beliefs and opinions when they reach adulthood, their father plans everything out for them which seen in the schedules their father does for them.

At the point when Ade Coker jokes that his children are excessively tranquil, Papa does not chuckle. They fear god. Truly, Kambili and Jaja fear their dad. Beating them has the contrary impact. They pick the correct way since they fear the repercussions. They are not urged to develop and to succeed, possibly compromised with disappointment when they do not. This negatively affects Jaja mainly, who is embarrassed that he is in many ways behind Obiora in both knowledge and safeguarding his family. He winds up comparing religion with discipline and rejects his confidence.

Sexism and Mistreatment in Purple Hibiscus

There is hidden sexism at work in the maltreatment. At the point when Mama reveals to Kambili she is pregnant, she refers that she prematurely delivered a few times after Kambili was conceived. She says to Kambili: 'you know after you came and I had the miscarriages, the villagers started to whisper. The members of our Ummunna even sent people to urge your father to urge him to have children with someone else'(20). Throughout the novel, Kambili's mother loses two pregnancies due to her husband, Eugene. These beatings may have about brought different unsuccessful labours too. At the point when she miscarries, Kambili feels traumatized because she remembers the blood she saw in her parents' room.

Furthermore, even though Eugene is at fault, he suggests it is Mama's deficiency. During her second miscarriage, when Beatrice goes to Nnsuka to visit Aunt Ifeoma, the readers learn that according to Kambili's mother, she cannot exist outside her marriage because 'he is a good man' she rejects Aunt Ifeoma's ideas and calls them 'university talk'. Moreover, Beatrice withstands the maltreatment and justifies his actions by saying that he has not been very well after the death of Ade Coker and that he is carrying more than a man should carry. Eventually, the abusive and violent actions of Eugene led Beatrice to poison him so; she could get away from the toxic marriage she had with her husband.

Kambili and Beatrice were not the only ones who were subjected to abuse and domestic violence by Eugene. Jaja was also affected by his father's aggression greatly. For instance, when Chima asks about Jaja's pinky finger on his right hand, aunt Ifeoma tells her son that he had an accident and distracts her son in order to safeguard Jaja's secret. The readers later learn that Aunt Ifeoma only said that because she did not want to taint Eugene's image in front of her children since they think he is a good and well-respected man. Additionally, the readers learn from Kambili that when he was ten 'he had missed two questions on his catechism test and was not named the best in his First Holy Communion class. Papa took him upstairs and locked the door. Jaja in tears came out supporting his left hand with his right, and Papa drove him to St.Agnes hospital. Papa was crying too, as he carried Jaja in his arms like a baby all the way to his car'(145). This teaches the reader that Jaja has opened up enough that he even told Ifeoma about the abuse done by his father – something Jaja and Kambili never spoke about, even within one another. Jaja's silence is less prevalent than Kambili's. Additionally, he finds his voice sooner, eventually leads to the Palm Sunday Scene.


In conclusion, domestic violence is present in Purple Hibiscus. Although the Achike family was affected by domestic violent greatly. Escaping the abuse from Eugene, the children can form their own opinions and ideas. Furthermore, as Kambili and Jaja got older, the more they wanted to rebel against their – especially Jaja. 

Works Cited

  1. Adiche, Chimamanda Ngozi. Purple Hibiscus. Anchor Books, 2003.

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  2. United Nations. 'Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.' United Nations General Assembly, 1993.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Purple Hibiscus: Theme of Domestic Violence Against Women. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
“Purple Hibiscus: Theme of Domestic Violence Against Women.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
Purple Hibiscus: Theme of Domestic Violence Against Women. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Dec. 2023].
Purple Hibiscus: Theme of Domestic Violence Against Women [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 04 [cited 2023 Dec 3]. Available from:
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