In the novel, Purple Hibiscus, Adichie clearly portrays the conflicting oppression of Kambili’s patriarchal household - where she is ordered to follow a strict ‘schedule’ - to the realisation of an almost ‘holiday’ like freedom she is exposed to when visiting Aunty Ifeoma and her family. In this extract, the author also intentionally expresses the Catholic upbringing of the protagonist in the novel and her brother, Jaja, as a stark contrast to their Auntie’s strong Igbo traditional customs.
Adichie illustrates the conflicting theme of restrictions and regime to freedom with the Auntie’s reaction to ‘Papa’s schedule’ when Jaja ‘shifted on his chair before pulling his schedule out of his pocket’. In response to this, the aunty ‘started to laugh so hard that she staggered’, which depicts a sense of shock and unfamiliarity when encountering their dictatorial childhood. Further on in the extract, the auntie’s disapproval of Kambili and Jaja’s oppressive nurturing is implied as Kambili wonders if it was ‘irritation that made her lower her eyebrows’. This conveys a rather negative image and gives the reader the impression that the aunty is judgmental, critical and quite concerned about Eugene’s stern control on the children.
Not only does Adichie use Aunty Ifeoma’s character to show the clear antithesis of oppression with freedom, but it is also portrayed through Kambili’s cousins, Amaka and Obiora. When Jaja informs them on the schedule they follow every day, Amaka scornfully remarks: ‘Interesting. So now rich people can’t decide what to do day by day, they need a schedule to tell them.’ This is expressed in a mocking tone to suggest the cousin’s contempt and detachment to Kambili and Jaja, indicating she can’t relate to their ‘rich’ lifestyle whilst also implying she wouldn’t want to comply to it either.
Despite the experience of different surroundings at this point...