How are themes of colonialism, freedom and tyranny presented in the opening chapters of ‘Purple Hibiscus’?

Chimamanda Adichie attempts to “delve into the violence, corruption, and hopelessness of Nigeria…under Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha”[1] through the mirroring of Kambili’s father as well as the burgeoning development of Kambili herself. Which is, indirectly, in conflict with this restrictive regime both externally as a representation of Nigeria’s post-colonial civil wars and internally, through the stifling nature of Eugene Achike’s family home and the oppressive silence that surrounds it. Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus is held as “a quiet coming-of age story in which family drama unfolds [and] steadily builds into a roar”[2] as “they talk in muted tones”; “they stayed silent and listened”[3] and ultimately “Papa ignored her [Mama]”[4]. The novel begins in a suppressed and silent world. Their tradition Igbo beliefs are suppressed under the weight of their father’s fervour: “the silence of the evening rosary; the silence of driving to the church for the benediction afterward. Even our family time on Sundays was quiet.” This political tyranny also translates into their personal lives as Adichie may seem as if she is one of Nigerian’s authors who “are breaking a long silence imposed by decades of repressive dictatorial regimes.”[5]






[1] ‘Finding her Voice’ by Heather Hewett

[2] Ibid. p2

[3] Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie p30

[4] Ibid. p31

[5] Opcit. Heath Hewett

3 thoughts on “How are themes of colonialism, freedom and tyranny presented in the opening chapters of ‘Purple Hibiscus’?

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