03 Sep Character and theme analysis of Purple Hibiscus
This post describes the themes in Purple Hibiscus and provides character analysis of Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
The character analysis of Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngọzi Adichie.
Kamibili is the main character in the story; she is the younger child of Eugene Achike and Beatrice and a sibling to Chukwuka Achike (Jaja). Kamibili is a 15-year-old reserved and timid girl in the story. She hates her father, Eugene, for being abusive and authoritative. When she gets exposed to a more liberal life in Aunty Ifeoma’s house in Nsukka, she learns to speak up her mind and overwhelm her timidity. Her exposure to a different life other than the tyrannical one she was used to at home awakened her sense of affection, making her fall in love with Father Amadi, a priest in Nsukka. When her father beats her into a coma, she chooses to stay in Aunty Ifeoma’s house in Nsukka, where she has made friends with Amaka, Aunty Ifeoma’s daughter, and Father Amadi.
Jaja (Chukwuka Achike)
Chukwuka Achike is the son of Eugene and Beatrice; he is the older brother of Kamibili. He is intelligent and defiant, unlike his younger sister, Kamibili. Chukwuka is nicknamed “Jaja” by his father due to his intelligence and braveness. Jaja easily adapts to a new environment and resists his father’s abuse at home. On one Palm Sunday, he refuses to take Holy Communion, making his father, Eugene Achike, hurl a heavy liturgical book at him. The novel ends with Jaja taking the blame for his mother – she had poisoned his father. Therefore, Jaja went to prison.
Eugene is a father to Kamibili and Jaja. He is a successful businessman and newspaper owner. He is respected in society because of his charitable works and bold stand against the oppressive government. However, at home, he subjugates his children and wife to his will and imposes his strict religious belief on them. Eugene is a devout Catholic who believes Igbo songs and other local materials should be banned in the church. He tries to estrange his family from his heathen father. On one occasion, he poured boiled water on their feet for spending time with his father, Papa-Nnukwu. Eugene twice beat his wife into miscarriages. He died suddenly after being poisoned by his wife, Beatrice.
Beatrice is a cool-headed person throughout the novel. She’s friendly towards her children, unlike Eugene. Beatrice is a mother to Kamibili and Jaja. She had two miscarriages after being beaten severely by Eugene, so when she could no longer brunt his brutality, she poisoned Eugene, her husband, to death. She endured Eugene’s brutality for staying with her even when she struggled to conceive another child, aside from Jaja and Kamibili.
Aunty Ifeoma is Eugene’s only sibling. She is liberal, which is unlike her brother. She chastises Eugene for mistreating Papa-Nnukwu. Aunty Ifeoma has three children and brings them up from her monthly paltry salary. She was married to professor Ifediora till his death separated them. Unlike Eugene, she always lets children express themselves without fear of punishment.
She’s Aunty Ifeoma’s daughter, about the same age as Kamibili. She initially hated Kamibili over her inability to do house chores and chided her for coming from a wealthy home. However, when Kamibili gets beaten into a coma by her father, she understands Kamibili’s situation better and makes friends with her.
He is a youthful priest in a chapel in Nsukka where Aunty Ifeoma lives. He is Aunty Ifeoma’s intimate friend from whom he got to know Kamibili. His friendly and brings contemporary life into his priesthood, contrasting Father Benedict’s view on religion. He encourages Igbo songs to be sung during a sermon. Kamibili fell in love with him. Father Amadi is transparent to Kamibili as he made her know his position as a priest won’t make her dream a reality. He made Kamibili know one can still be faithful and liberal at the same time. Father Amadi once took Kamibili to plait her hair in a salon, making the hair stylist reveal to Kamibili that a man can only accompany a girl to a salon when he likes her.
He’s the editor of the Standard, a newspaper owned by Eugene Achike. His critical stand against the oppressive government earned him a stand-off with the military government. He was arrested and released but still refused to stop writing against the government until he was killed by a pipe bomb. Ade Coker represents Dele Giwa, a Nigerian editor who was critical of the military government in the 1980s and got eliminated through a letter bomb.
He is Papa’s close friend and always admires him for his continuous support for the church. Father Benedict is white and British and serves in St.Agnes, Enugu.
She’s the daughter of Aunty Ifeoma. She unapologetically embraces her African origin despite growing up in a strong catholic background. When her mother gets an American visa, she refuses to follow her to America because of her strong love for her roots.
Aged Papa-Nnukwu is a father to Eugene Achike and Aunty Ifeoma. He’s a heathen, warm, and represents African tradition in the story. Eugene detests Papa-Nnukwu for being a heathen, so forbids Kamibili and Jaja from spending time with him. After Jaja and Kamibili get to know Papa-Nnukwu better, they realize there’s not much difference between him and them.
Themes in the Purple Hibiscus
The story begins with a graphical description of Papa’s religious views. Papa only embraces the European type of Christianity and hates Papa-Nnukwu for refusing to convert to Christianity. He discourages Igbo songs from being sung in the church or house and strictly imposes his belief on his family. However, Father Amadi embraces his African root and uses his native language during a sermon. He incorporates modernity into his priesthood, unlike Father Benedict.
Papa is such a softener towards outsiders, earning respect from the church; however, at home, he is a tyrant whose face instills fear in his children and wife. Papa imposed his strict religious beliefs on his family, and failure to follow the rules attracted severe punishment. This could be seen when Mama excused herself from her social duty due to her pregnancy, and Papa beat her into miscarriage. He threw a heavy liturgical book at Jaja after he refused to take the Holy Communion on a Palm Sunday and poured hot water on Kamibili’s feet for spending time with his heathen father.
Liberal and Dictatorship
Aunty Ifeoma is a liberal person in contrast to Papa, who plans his family’s life and imposes his strict belief on them. Moreover, the novel also narrates how oppressive the military government was towards its citizens. Ade Coker symbolized freedom, and the government stands for dictatorship.
Share your thoughts on the character analysis of Purple Hibiscus. Are they other themes that we did not capture? Comment below.