Women with No Voice Being Compliant

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Words: 1299 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Words: 1299|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

The lack of women’s rights is an apparent issue in Chimamanda Adichie’s novel Purple Hibiscus. The character Mama struggles with her options while having an abusive husband who puts their family in danger and violent situations. She makes a difficult decision, as she was tired of conforming with Papa, for the sake of her and her children, Kambili and Jaja. She felt like she had been left with no other options. Women with no voice can be pushed to harsh measures in tough times.

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The term misogyny is reflected in many different lights throughout the novel. The quote, “...In patriarchal culture the word is used to designate an extreme abhorrence of women,” (Dworkin) explains male superiority’s effect on women in society. This is important to the future of women’s rights and voices being heard because misogyny hinders prosperity. In Purple Hibiscus, Mama faces the issue of Papa’s word overpowering and intimidating her own opinions. Papa’s sister, Aunty Ifeoma recognizes the disempowerment of females in both of their communities and she is more confident in being unapologetic. Nigeria, during this time, is a predominantly male ruled country that has entitled men to do as they please within their families. Male dominance is also seen as something that all women are expected to comply with, “I want to have a baby first. I don’t want dim to think that he married me to have an empty home.” she said, with a high, girlish laugh,” (Adichie 234). This an alarming claim that was made by Aunty Ifeoma’s former university student who was newly engaged. This progresses the idea that she feels as though she needed to pause her education to please what she believed her fiance expected of her. Women, as a whole, can be silenced and hindered from acting on their feelings with the fear that their choices could be labeled selfish (Cohen). This means that they can be guilted into agreeing to unfavorable things and it is significant because it is the drastic effect of misogyny being normalized onto its victims.

Feminism alters the views of women and others opinions on women’s rights. Women empowerment is done throughout feminist movements which happen all over the world (Feminism). These are important to the rights that women have today because the protests symbolize that effort being taken. Feminism is defined as “... the belief in the social, economic, and political equality of women and men” (Feminism). The lack of feminism is prominent in Mama’s character, but is present in Aunty Ifeoma’s daughter, Amaka. She is opinionated on various issues regarding the expectations of women as well as the colonized catholic church. During a family dinner Kambili is troubled to see this, “I wished Amaka would keep her voice low. I was not used to this kind of conversation at table,” (Adichie 97). It was chilling for Kambili to witness a healthy family’s dinner discussion. The quote is important because Kambili wasn’t particularly used to women starting talk at dinner, and this shows the hostile view of women in her home.

In the novel, Papa demeans and intimidates Mama physically and verbally, as seen here, “Let me stay in the car and wait, biko… Are you sure you want to stay in the car? ... I asked if you were sure you wanted to stay in the car,” (Adichie 29). This can be categorized as a form of domestic violence that could lead to deadly interactions in couples and marriages (Cohen). It is important that this toxic behavior is recognized. The quote, “Murder by an intimate partner is the most common forrm of female homicide… Wife battering, the systematic control, intimidation, and physical abuse of a woman by her male partner, is less common in societies in which women have the same rights as men,” (Cohen) highlights the dangers of staying in abusive relationships. The novel expresses the relationship of women and men not being equal through law in Nigeria. This quote is important to Mama’s situation because the instability within her home because of her husband’s abuse creates tension and pressures her into conforming to things she doesn’t want to do.

In some cases, victims of abuse are silent and there could be various reasons as to why, “Inadequate financial means, inadequate legal protection, and lack of support by family and/or clergy can all hinder a battered woman's escape…” (Cohen). All the factors that come into play are listed in that quote and they’re significant because they are often ignored, and women who don’t leave are criticized for not defending themselves. In the quote, “I wondered why I did not tell her that all my skirts stopped well past my knees, that i did not own any trousers because it was sinful for a woman to wear trousers,” (Adichie 80) a statement made by Kambili, the abuser’s daughter, shows the fear instilled in her by her father causing her to not speak the truth when questioned. This is important because it implicated her not having a voice and staying silent about matters that concern her abuser. It is possible that this means she doesn’t want his true character to be revealed to the community because it would taint his reputation and she cares about him.

Mama deals with Papa demonstrating abusive tendencies according to this quote, “Abusive patterns of behavior by parents can be viewed as poor responses to stressful situations and feeling powerless,” (Child Abuse). This is relevant to the lack of peace for Mama and other women because this shows that some husbands aggressive actions have been fueled by their past trauma and taken over their entire family. The quote, “He poured the hot water on my feet, slowly… The pain of contact was so pure, so scalding… And then I screamed,” (Adichie 194) was an instance of Papa abusing his daughter, Kambili. The reasoning behind this cruel torture was her not telling him that her grandpa was staying in their Aunty Ifeoma’s home with them. He chooses this punishment for the sole fact that it was done to him by a missionary when he was a young boy and committed a sin against this body and it effectively made him stop. Papa was able to pass off his actions as the will of God. Another situation occurring years back, “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,” (Adichie 145) was when Jaja was punished for not coming first in his class. Again, an example of Papa excusing his actions as an accident and covering his tracks. This is significant because violence has been in their home for as long as the family can remember. Mama’s role in her children being physically and emotionally abused was absent. She doesn’t stick up for her or Jaja and Kambili, but she comforts them after each confrontation. Her lack of words to these acts show the fear Papa has placed above her head and she has to take action without causing commotion somehow. She decides to poison Papa’s tea and does so successfully, but not without any consequences, as her son takes the blame and is sent to jail. This takes a hard toll on her and Kambili, but then there is news that Jaja will be out soon after almost three years of suffering without him and this brings joy to the two.

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In conclusion, the drastic measures women are often forced to take derive from them being silenced and forced to comply with certain things. Movements like feminist protests and debates have been the efforts made to improve societys stance on women and give the rights deserved. The unapologetic nature of women, specifically Mama, wanting what is best for them can save lives when in abusive relationships. 

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Women with No Voice being Compliant. (2024, January 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Women with No Voice being Compliant.” GradesFixer, 31 Jan. 2024,
Women with No Voice being Compliant. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Women with No Voice being Compliant [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jan 31 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:
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