Rebellion in Purple Hibiscus Novel

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Rebellion in Purple Hibiscus Novel

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Infact rebellion is seen all throughout the novel and is presented by Kambili’s brother, Jaja. A big clue that Rebellion plays a grand role in the book is the constant recurring back talk and actions going against papa. For example, on the very first page of the book on the very first line the quote says “Things started to fall apart when my brother jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the etagere”. This first quotes tells the reader multiple things. The first thing we can infer, is that kambili and jaja reside in a very religious household. You can also infer that papa is controlling and inflicts religion onto his children heavily. The fact that papa throws a bible at the figurine etagere adds up to frustration inside the father and a sneak peak of emotions and actions that papa brings out when his children don’t obey and foreshadows future but worse actions acted upon the family. Another time when rebellion is shown against papa is when kambili and jaja are in kambili’s room not regularly following the fixed schedules assigned to them. Kambili includes that papa never or hardly checks on them to attend their schedules so jaja goes to talk to kambili and then surprisingly asks to see the painting given to Kambili from their cousin Amaka. The painting is unfinished but is created to represent papa nnukwu who is deceased. Jaja reassures kambili that their father won’t find out because he’s busy with Father Benedict. Kambili is quickly debating with herself if jaja is right and very sure. Kambili’s skeptical thoughts are shown by the quote, “My eyes lingered on the door, I never looked at the painting when papa was at home” on page 208. It’s as if the author is telling us that kambili kept her eyes on the door because she knew she had doubt in her mind that she had enough time. Time passes by and time escapes from kambili and jaja and papa comes in and sees them with the painting gets angry and asks where they got the painting, what it is, and if they converted to heathen ways. Jaja says “O nkem. It’s mine” and he wraps his arms around the painting as if protecting it and protecting the memories that he had a Aunty Ifeoma’s house when he felt at home and comfortable and actually as an individual.

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Family Cultural Structures

Adichie proves that the Igbo culture is way different than what we normal everyday americans have in the united states or even our everyday lives. Mama is characterized as weak not only by her own daughter but by her sister in law, When Aunty Ifeoma. invites Kambili and Jaja to her house Jaja begins to look different and act different, in a way he has never acted at home. Kambili notices the changes occurring within jaja physically and mentally. In a scene when jaja is in Aunty Ifeoma’s garden kambili takes a long look at him and describes his physical appearance changing rather quickly. The quote where jaja is described is on page 143, “Jaja was on his knees. He wore only a pair of denim shorts, and the muscles on his back rippled, smooth and long like the ridges he weeded”. This quote describing jaja is correlating with the igbo culture very directly. In the Igbo culture when women have sons the sons tend to help out with outdoor crops (such as jaja is with Aunty Ifeoma’s garden). Heavy weight lifting and multiple tasks are also included. Another way the novel includes cultural aspects of the igbo people is the topic on Polygamy. Mama tells Kambili that they are very lucky that papa hasn’t met another woman and started a new family although people have told him to.On page 20 Mama says, “You know after you came and I had the miscarriages the villagers started to whisper. The members of our umunna even sent people to your father to urge him to have children with someone else. So many people had willing daughters, and many of them were university graduates too. They may have borne many sons and taken over our home.” Mama is somehow in a way grateful to god that papa didn;t leave her and have other wives and In igbo culture shows that polygamy is a normal characteristic. Not only are the men on top culturally but socially also.


Papa has a very large ego and is mostly due to the admiration he receives from the villagers and church goers that go to him for advice or to bask in his presence. After the death of Papa Nnuwuku Aunty Ifeoma tries to inform papa about the tragic news and papa seems completely unfazed. Papa shows no remorse towards the death of his father due to the sole fact that his father prayed to the ancestors and papa completely disowned him from socializing with him and has taken the problems in their relationship towards papa nwuku’s and kambili’s and jaja’s relationship.They were only allowed to see papa nwuku 15 minutes a couple times a year which is pretty outrageous considering that is their grandfather but religion controls their lives so strictly it put barriers between them and one of their family members. Papa exerts his ego on page 189 by saying, “I cannot participate in a pagan funeral, but we can discuss with parish priest and arrange a catholic funeral. Papa’s lifestyle is over run and dominated by religion so strongly that he refuses to attend the funeral and not show one bit of compassion towards his own father. Although Papa’s toxic ego has altered his family connections it didn't stop his dad praying for him every morning. The compassion in papa nuwuku’s heart is shown by a quote on page 168, “I was surprised that he prayed for PaPa with the same earnestness that he prayed for himself and Aunty Ifeoma”. This quote spoken by kambili shows the epiphany she experienced that everything she thought about her grandfather was all influenced by her father’s ego.


Jaja and Kambili are so used to having secrets inside their household such as the abuse, strict rules, and papa’s authority over all of them. A quote on page 154 is from kambili talking to jaja about the event regarding his finger that sprung questions, “Had jaja forgotten that we never told, that there was so much that we never told? When people asked, he always said finger was “something” that had happened at home.” this quote that kambili is saying is revolving around the fact that their lifestyle is so different that they would rather just keep events that happened at home to themselves. Kambili seems to resemble her mother by keeping thoughts to herself and never speaking her mind out loud and that's why Amaka tends to take advantage of her quiet nature. When Kambili arrives home from Aunt Ifeoma’s house she says in her mind, “I wanted to tell Mama that it did feel different to be back, that our living room had too much empty space, too much wasted marble floor that gleamed from sisi’s polishing and housed nothing. Our ceilings were too high. Our furniture was lifeless: the glass did not shed twisted skin in the harmattan, the leather sofa’s greeting was a clammy coldness, the persian rugs were too lush to have any feeling. But I said, ‘You polished the etagere’. ” on page 192. This quote exhibits kambili’s real thoughts about her home and her inside mental thoughts on how she really feels about the lifestyle she lives. Secrets aren't only kept from other family member but also the people she lives with.

Illusion vs. Reality

The most delusional individual inside this novel would be Mama. Mama is seen as not as attached to reality as every other character is. Mama is the most affected by the abuse more than the children however she also the most oblivious to it. The further into the book you start to get an impression and go more in depth of the other character’s actually opinions on events that happen especially the abusive aspects. After papa beats Kambili so mercifully that she ends up in the emergency room on a gurney unable to move her body. While kambili is still continuing her studies in the hospital, Aunty Ifeoma tries to give Mama advice on page 214, Aunty Ifeoma tells Mama “I want kambili and jaja to stay with us, at least until Easter. Pack your own things and come to Nsukka. It will be easier for you to leave when they are not there” Mama doesn’t give a lot of thought about the advice that Aunt Ifeoma is warning her.This quote shows that Aunty Ifeoma is aware of the abuse that papa inflicts upon mama and may be the reason she wants kambili and jaja to stay over with her as long as possible. Mama responds with an empty answer as If she herself is so surprised that the long term abuse escalated to kambili ending up in the living room when she has witnessed all of the other times such as Papa boiling kambili’s feet and Papa beating the family for Jaja and Mama allowing kambili to eat before the communion and Kambili eating before the communion. He saw the action as a sin and thus acted upon it. On Page 32 an example of this would be a quote describing the occasion when kambili heard loud thuds coming from her parents room. “When I heard the sounds. Swift, heavy thuds on my parent’s hand carved bedroom door. I imagined the door had gotten stuck and papa was trying to open it. If i imagined it hard enough, then it would be true” This quote informs the reader that obviously kambili is trying to cover her ears and block the sound from her because she doesn’t want to face the harsh reality in her face so she thinks of something else and acts out a believable story in her head.

Rich vs. Poor

Ifeoma is known to deal with a lot of financial issues versus her brother Eugene also known as papa who has ease getting through his day with food on the table at all time meanwhile ifeoma freezes and unfreezes chickens, has a mini garden where she grows her vegetables to eat, and she walks to the supermarkets to get sodas and anything she needs for a cheap price. On page 45 it is shown by a quote that Aunt ifeoma goes to extreme measures to make ends meet. “He parked his car next to Aunty Ifeoma’s station wagon and took out a can of petrol and a garden hose that had been cut to quarter of its length.” Aunt Ifeoma's car broke down and they’re trying to get gas into it meanwhile iobora says, “Let me do the sucking father” this shows Aunty ifeoma’s children are aware of their poverty level and are used to her car not working or her just in general not having a lot money. On page 58 Kambili describes her house in a plain manner which is weird because her house size is what almost everyone would be glad to have. “The wide passages made our house feel like a hotel, as did the impersonal smell of doors kept locked most of the year, of unused bathrooms and kitchens and toilets, of inhabited rooms. We used only the ground floor and first floor; the other two were last used years ago.” Although kambili has a larger house and richer it;s completely odd that she’d rather be in a poorer home and be happier.

Superiority of the church

Papa is shown as a man with a lot of power and even is seen as close to god regarding leadership in the church. On page 93 Kambili and Amaka are talking and they’re discussing how papa in a way is so powerful altered the religious traditional ways. The quote, “I thought the Igwe was supposed to stay at his place and receive guests. I didn’t know he visits people’s homes,’Amaka said, as we went downstairs.’I guess that’s because your father is a big man.” Another quote that shows a similar message is “Mama looked at the wall clock, a gift from a charity papa donated to, oval shaped and embossed with his name in gold lettering.” This quote shows that because papa is a man of the church he has power over people to make them treat him like he’s some type of golden person from heaven. Normally when donating to a charity, you don’t receive clocks with your name in gold lettering. The gold lettering seems over the top and why did they have to give him a clock if people are supposed to donate. The Gold lettering symbolized his position and the power he has because of the church.


Papa and Papa Nnukwu’s relationship had drastic faults due to them failing to see eye to eye due to different religious views. Papa explains why Papa is so religious and that the white men changed him. Papa is known to do things similar to the white people. “Papa changed his accent when he spoke, sounding British, just as he did when he spoke to Father Benedict. He was gracious, in the eager-to-please way that he always assumed with the religious, especially with the white religious.” on page 46. This quote means that papa is more favorable to the way that white people talked and is in a way showing that he has been influenced by them. A quote on page 168 says, “Chineke! Bless my son, Eugene. let the sun not set on his prosperity . Lift the curse they have put on him.” Papa Nnukwu is saying that papa is under a curse and that he was brainwashed and converted by the missionaries.


A theme of Fear is circulated all around this book and exhibited in most of the characters such as Ade Crocker, Aunty Ifeoma, Jaja, Mama, Amaka and Kambili. A quote that demonstrates fear in majority of the characters is found on page 141, “I stood there, staring at her, wishing Aunty Ifeoma were to speak for me.” Kambili informs us that she is afraid to speak up for herself towards amaka when amaka makes little snooty comments towards her. Another circumstance that a quote implies fear from a character is on page 174 when it says, “When liquid fire was raging inside me, when fear mingling with hope and clutching itself around my ankles.” This quote also broadcasts fear by relating that kambili shows her quiet ideas and thoughts that she keeps to herself. The quote also tells us that she is overwhelmed with emotions and being scared is one of them.

Self Contradiction

Papa is a great example of Self Contradiction because he sets the best display of this. Papa is a churchman, is incredibly religion, gives to charities, and is a big role model for the local villagers. Although he seen as a very good person he beats his wife and cause her to miscarriage her child. The miscarriage affects kambili because she sees the red blood in her text book while studying this is emphasized on page 35 when kambili can’t help but stare at mama’s belly and be reminded of the tragic event that occurred. Kambili expresses this by the quote of her saying,” I went upstairs then and sat staring at my textbook. The black type blurred, the letters swimming into one another, and was watery, flowing from Mama, flowing from my eyes.” Papa also does the opposite actions of his shown character by crying when he punishes his children harshly. When a person cries it means that they show compassion but papa still uses cruel punishment so they don’t add up with each other. On page 212 papa is at the bedside of kambili and tells her, “My precious daughter. Nothing will happen to you. My precious daughter”. Papa sure raises a lot of questions with this quote by promising kambili she will never get punished again but abuse is a known fact that it gets worse and escalates. He’s such a religious man that is near impossible to stop accustomed ways.

Overall this Novel has a lot of twists and turns incorporated into it. The characters are very different and outrageous in their own ways. Every character brings action and emotion into the novel by ending up in eyeballing situations such as papa Nnukwu death. Surprising events that makes the reader really surprised such as Kambili having a crush on the priest to Jaja’s rebellious behavior. In general The author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie makes the reader feel a lot of emotions meanwhile leaves us wanting more of the novel and leaves us hanging on the edge of our seat.

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