Purple Hibiscus Character Analysis Kambili is the narrator of our story; she is a shy, observant 15 year old girl. Kambili is constantly searching for her father’s approval. Throughout the book, Kambili evolves deeper into her true identity. Kambili lives in Nigeria with her wealthy family and has never known anything different than what her overprotective father has shown her, which consists of love through discipline and strict Christianity is the only way to live. Kambili’s older brother is named Chukwuka, but is commonly referred to as Jaja because of a childhood nickname.
Jaja is very defiant towards his father and his beliefs. Jaja is the center of trouble throughout most of the story because of his refusal to conform. Jaja is motivated by his family to do the best he possibly can in every aspect of life and later in the story, he is motivated by his cousin to take on the role of the male head in his family. After Mama poisons Papa Eugene, Jaja takes the blame and is sent to prison despite but is later released. Papa Eugene is Kambili’s father and a very successful businessman.
Eugene has very strong faith because when he was younger, he was converted from raditional Igbo culture to a Catholic belief system. Papa uses his religion to justify his disciplinary actions towards his children and says its simply because “he loves them and wants what’s best. ” He smothers, controls and beats his family as a sign of affection. Towards the end of the novel, Mama poisons the tea and kills her husband, Papa. Ifeoma is Kambili and Jaja’s aunt; Eugene’s sister. Aunty Ifeoma is intelligent and independent, raising her children on her own.
She is a major influence on the decisions and actions made by Kambili and Jaja throughout the book. Ifeoma is otivated by happiness, not only her own, but everyone she interacts with. Kambili and Jaja went to live with their aunt temporarily and she changes the way they look at everyday life. Aunty Ifeoma quits her job at the college and moves to America to live and work. A very controversial figure in Kambili’s life would be her grandfather, Papa Nnukwu. He is a very old, wrinkly, and wise man. Papa Eugene disowned his father over contrasting beliefs between traditional indigenous culture and Eugene’s Christian beliefs.
This relationship creates tension between Papa Eugene and his family. Because of his age, Papa Nnukwu died happily in his sleep. After his death, Kambili still held to the memory of her grandfather through a painting that was given to her. When Papa Eugene finds his daughter with the picture of his father, he beats her unconscious. Glossary of Literary Terms A symbol is an object or action in a literary work that means more than itself, that stands for something beyond itself. “See, the purple hibiscuses are about to bloom,’ Jaja said as we got out of the car…
The next day was Palm Sunday, the day Jaja did not go to communion, the day Papa threw his heavy missal across he room and broke the figurines” (253). The hibiscuses are most related to Jaja throughout the story. The puple hibiscus symbolizes the defiance of Jaja and his transformation from boy to man. When the hibiscuses bloom, Jaja changes completely and refuses to go to communion with his family. When Jaja and Kambili returned from their aunt’s house, Jaja brought back purple hibiscus to remind him of the happiness and freedom he felt when he was away and it symbolized the future refusal.
A motif is a recurrent image, word, phrase, represented object, or action that ends to unify the literal work or that may be elaborated into a more general theme. An exapmle of a motif used in Purple Hibiscus would be the theme of identity. Throughout the whole story, Jaja and Kambili reveal their true identities. “His shoulders seemed broader, and wondered if it was possible for a teenager’s shoulders to broaden in a week” (154). Kambili begins to notice the change her brother has gone through since they’ve been visiting their aunt.
Jaja has seemed to have a weight lifted off his shoulders in the time that he has been away from his father and is becoming independent and more mature. Jaja is discovering his true identity, which is a very common motif throughout the story. Imagery a technique a writer Uses to create pictures in the reader’s mind and to appeal to the senses of touch, taste, smell, or hearing. “When Papa-Nnukwu rose and stretched, his entire body, like the bark of the gnarled gmelina tree in our yard, captured the gold shadows from the lamp flame in its many furrows and ridges.
Even the age spots that dotted his hands and legs gleamed The rumples in Papa-Nnukwu’s belly did not seem so many now, and his navel rose higher, still enclosed between folds of skin” (169). The author used imagery to describe this scene between Kambili and her grandfather. The words that were carefully chosen to portray this moment make it easier for the reader to imagine which is a skill used by the author often in this book. A simile is a comparison using like or as. When Papa Nnukwu was praying, Kambili watched his every move and described her grandfather, “Papa-Nnukwu smiled as he spoke.
His few front teeth seemed a deeper yellow in the light, like fresh corn kernels. The wide gaps in his gums were tinged a subtle tawny color” (168). Kambili compared her grandfathers teeth to corn kernels using “like” r “as”, which means this analogy was a simile. Similies are useful when understanding what one thing looks or acts like in comparison to another. When an other uses a simile rather than a metaphor, they are acknowledging the differences between the two and they are not identical. When an author uses direct characterization, he directly states the character’s traits. “He still looked new.
The colors of his face, the colors of condensed milk and a cut-open soursop, had not tanned at all in the fierce heat of seven Nigerian harmattans. And his British nose was still as pinched and as narrow as it always was… (4). In this quote, the author directly describes what the character, Father Benedict, looks like. The significance of using direct rather than indirect characterization is to have one common vision. With indirect characterization, traits can be misinterpreted and leaves room for error, but with direct characterization, the author gives one description to follow.
Passages On the first page of the actual story, the reader experiences an event that is led up to throughout the rest of the book. “-rhings started to fall apart when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across he room and broke the figurines on the ©tag©re. We had just returned from church. Mama placed the fresh palm fronds, which were wet with holy water, on the dining table and then went upstairs to change” (3). The first paragraph of the book foreshadows the rest of the story.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was a big influence on the author when writing this book, hence the allusion in the first sentence. This passage gives us an insight on the religion centered lives of Kambili and her defiant brother, Jaja, and strict, short-tempered father. Throughout her whole life, Kambili has been controlled by her father. Between set schedules and extreme discipline, Kambili has become accustomed to the male-dominated society she lives in and does not know anything different. Kambili thinks of her father with great stature and is naive to think his actions are signs of affection. l meant to say I am sorry Papa broke your figurines, but the words that came out were, ‘I’m sorry your figurines broke, Mama. ‘ She nodded quickly, then shook her head to show that the figurines did not matter. They did, though. Years ago, before I understood, I used to wonder why she polished them ach time I heard the sounds from their room, like something being banged against the door” (10). This passage is important to show not only the role of Papa Eugene, but also of all men in a patriarchal culture.
Once, when Kambili was caught with the painting of her grandfather, Papa Eugene beat her unconscious. While in the hospital, Kambili’s Aunty Ifeoma and Mama discuss the situation. MT his cannot go on, nwunye m,’ Aunty Ifeoma said. ‘When a house is on fire, you run out before the roof collapses on your head. ‘ ‘It has never happened like this before. He has never punished her like this before,’ Mama said” (213). Ifeoma tries to convince Beatrice to leave her husband because he is causing harm to her and her children.
Papa has caused many injuries, multiple miscarriages, and irreversible emotional scarring. This passage is important to show the character that Eugene is; not even his own sister can trust or will stick up for him. Mama goes against her sister-in-law’s advice and returns to her husband but shortly after she goes home, she starts to poison Eugene. Mama’s fear and anger builds up to the point of murder. Theme Essay Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie is a story about a young girl and her amily living in Nigeria.
Throughout the book, she is constantly reminded of her faith by her over protective father, Papa Eugene. Kambili is introduced to multiple religious figures such as Father Amadi and Papa Nnukwu, whose ideas and beliefs have great contrast. Many themes are present throughout the story but the most prominent would seem to be the complicated role of religion as part of one’s identity. An identity is composed of many aspects, but religion has great influence one’s personality. Papa Eugene is a great example of the way religion can affect one’s identity.