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Freedom in “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Adichie Essay

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Updated: Oct 20th, 2021

Introduction

Chimamanda Adichies first novel “Purple Hibiscus”, published in 2004, has made a considerable success all over the world due to its deep realism and the wide variety of philosophical and moral questions, raised by the author. She makes the reader to look at the world through the eye of a teenager, fifteen year-old girl Kambili; the task, which is difficult to fulfill, because adults are seldom able to recreate their childhood experiences.

Discussion

The most dominant motif of “Purple Hibiscus” is the concept of freedom; by contrasting Kambilis and Aunt Ifeomas families, Chimamanda Adichie proves that perception of freedom can vary. Additionally, the author shows the evolvement of the main characters (Kambili, her mother Beatrice and her brother Jaja), paying extra attention to the process of their emancipation. In this respect, it should be also mentioned that the novel is full of symbols, for example, the gorgeous house that the main character lives in. At first glance, it may seem that it is a palace, or a dream, but in fact, it proves to be the prison, governed by Eugene Achilike, Kambilis father. This character is one of the central figures in the novel, his is trying to rule over (such formulation is the most appropriate in this case) other members of the family by stick and carrot; he can be loving and cruel simultaneously. Being a religious fanatic, he wants everyone to follow his example. Every deviation from the rules is severely punished.

However, his totalitarian regime is gradually falling into a decline, members of the family are starting to rebel against his rule. The narrator says “Things started to fall apart when my brother Jaja did not go to communion”(Adichie, 4). Yet, this is just the first sign of the mutiny, which is not mature enough. The main characters are still subdued to the rule of Eugene. For instance, Kambilis mother, Beatrice silently tolerates her husband’s tyranny, to some extent, she symbolizes an average Nigerian woman, who is practically deprived of her rights. Beatrice takes her husband’s brutalities for granted, despite Ifeomas advice to leave Eugene. As regards Jaja, Eugene’s son, it should be mentioned, that he is trying to show signs of disobedience to his father, but he is not strong enough to oppose (not only physically but also spiritually) him. The main character and the narrator Kambili, is virtually silent in the presence of her father, she can hardly express her views, knowing that it may result in a fit of her father’s anger.

As it has already been mentioned earlier, the novel is full of contrasts and oppositions. The situation takes an unexpected turn, when Kambili is sent to her aunt Ifeomas house, which is entirely different from the luxurious prison, she lives in. The transition is quite noticeable even in the language of the main character. At the beginning of the novel, the narrator speaks in Standard English, but later, she mixes it with Igbo words, which were strictly prohibited by her father. Aunt Ifeoma is a very educated person; however, she does not reject her native culture. Additionally, she does not impose fixed schedules on her children, or punish them for every alleged “sin”, as her brother is prone to do. Kambili is given a free hand, which is very unusual to her. In this respect, it should be mentioned that even the title of the book is symbolic. The main character can be compared to the flower, hibiscus, which is finally allowed to bloom. She even falls in love with the priest, father Amadi. Such thing would have been inconceivable, if she had continued to live with her father.

Aunt Ifeomas influence is also noticeable in the behavior of Beatrice, who is no longer able to suffer Eugene’s dominance, and she poisons him. However, Aunt Ifeoma should not be viewed as the instigator. She just gives Beatrice the stimuli to emancipate herself. The murder is a natural result of Eugene’s cruelty and brutality. It is worth mentioning that Jaja screens his mother, which means that he does not view her act as a crime, at least, in terms of his moral.

Conclusion

It is quite possible to say that freedom, obtained by main characters, can be ascribed to two factors: first, Aunt Ifeomas impact, because she shows them that there is the world without bondage and oppression. Another factor is the reaction to Eugene’s cruelty (especially it concerns Beatrice), because sooner or later, every human being is bound to overthrow his or her oppressor.

Bibliography

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “Purple Hibiscus”. Anchor Books, 2004.

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"Freedom in “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Adichie." IvyPanda, 20 Oct. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/freedom-in-purple-hibiscus-by-chimamanda-adichie/.

1. IvyPanda. "Freedom in “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Adichie." October 20, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/freedom-in-purple-hibiscus-by-chimamanda-adichie/.


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IvyPanda. "Freedom in “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Adichie." October 20, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/freedom-in-purple-hibiscus-by-chimamanda-adichie/.

References

IvyPanda. 2021. "Freedom in “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Adichie." October 20, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/freedom-in-purple-hibiscus-by-chimamanda-adichie/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Freedom in “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Adichie'. 20 October.

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