Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Purple Hibiscus is the first novel written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The story portrays the life of Beatrice and her family struggles in postcolonial Nigeria. The book was first published in 2003 by Algonquin Books.

About the author :

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author born in 1977. She is a novelist, short story, and nonfiction writer. She had written novels, such as Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013). Her short story collection includes The Thing around Your Neck (2009).

Summary :

The story is set in the backdrop of postcolonial Nigeria, under political instability. The novel portrays the determination of a mother, Beatrice. She lives with her two children, Jaja and Kambili, amidst their patriarchal father, Eugene. The children and the mother struggle because of the father’s repression and violence.

The story is narrated by the younger teenage girl, Kambili, who endures her father’s violence at a very early age. Eugene is an atrocious father raising his children in a hostile environment. He has strict religious and patriarchal values giving no way for other’s personal opinions. Despite his wealthy, highly-class society, Eugene often holds temporal streaks on his family members. His acts are punishments for religious indiscretion and anything that he deems as immoral.

From the viewpoint of Kambili, the family is a total disaster. She and her brother go to her father’s sister, Ifeoma, and spend time with her three children. Unlike their household, Ifeoma’s place is different. They practice a different form of Catholicism, which deals with happiness and liberty. The house encourages its members to open up to other’s opinions and let them speak their minds. Living in such a nurturing environment makes Kambili and Jaja more open to their own opinions. Meanwhile, Kambili falls in love with Father Amadi, a young priest who comes to her Aunt house. The following events awaken her sensuality.

Meanwhile, Kambili and Jaja return to their existing life with Eugene. Unable to bear his continual violence, one day, Beatrice poisons him. Following the inquiry, Jaja takes up the blame. The present story ends with Aunt Ifeoma and family moving to America and Jaja is sentenced for imprisonment. The novel continues to show the life of the characters almost three years later. Kambili is now a confident young woman, and her brother Jaja, who has been released from prison, is toughened by the situations. Their mother, Beatrice is psychologically deteriorated.

The novel shows how violence and constant suffocation can cause adverse effects on the emotional well-being of the family members. The entire family craves for love and independence. This crumples down the family’s internal relationships.

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