During the novel “Purple Hibiscus”, we witness the transformation of Kambili Achike from a silenced, repressed and wary girl into a more confident, mature and happy young woman. This change is brought upon by significant characters in the story, who help show Kambili how joyous the world can be and how she also has a place within this joyous world. And through this Kambili finds a way to slowly crack through her father’s hold over her and come into her own.
Within the Achike household Papa Eugene enforces the rules of Catholisms upon his family. He is a very controlling man and is obsessive in his beliefs, to the point where he punishes the members of his family for anything which he deems a “sin”, which he does out of his love fro them as he believes he needs to protect them from committing sins and ending up in “hell-fires”. To him there is a very clear divide between what is right and what is wrong, however his standards are very difficult to live by but he expects and ensures his family adhere to these. As a result of her father’s abuse and the way he rules and controls their household, Kambili is the withdrawn, shy girl we meet at the beginning of the novel. His rules and dominion leave no room for Kambili to become her own person or express herself. Because of her father’s abuse and the way he has taught them (the way he has brought them up) she knows of no other way than the way they live, and believes it to be the right and only way which will lead them to salvation. A physical manifestation within Kambili of her father’s abuse is her stutter. This also affects how she interacts with others outside of her family. For example at school Kambili is so withdrawn and her growth is so stunted by her father’s oppression that she cannot communicate with the other girls and cannot make friends.
Kambili’s subservience can also be attributed to her love for her father and her need for his approval. Her intense love and pride of her father contributes to the blind belief in all her father says and the subsequent subservience because to her “Papa is never wrong”. Initially her relationship with her father surrounds her aiming to, at all times, act in a way which will make him proud of her. This need contributes to Kambili’s initial personality and is one of the things that is steadily broken down in order to allow Kambili to become more mature and independent.
This is the girl that travels to Nsukka the first time. Witnessing her aunt and cousins interact with one another and share with one another, show Kambili another side of what a family can be like. Their family laughs together, argue with one another and challenge each other’s view. Kambili is thrown into an environment full of noise and action, which is the complete opposite to her own home which is full of silences. This new environment and people cause Kambili to undergo a transformation.
Aunt Ifeoma plays a very important role in Kambili’s transformation. From the very beginning of Kambili’s stay she begins breaking her father’s control by taking away her daily schedule given to her to follow by her father. Aunty Ifeoma teaches Kambili a lot during her stay which helps Kambili understand her world and herself better. Kambili also learns a lot from being around Aunt Ifeoma on what a strong woman is (something she has never really experienced before) by seeing how strong her aunt is. Another one of the main things Aunt Ifeoma helps Kambili with is learning to find her voice. When she forces Kambili to stand up for herself against Amaka, after Amaka makes a snarky comment regarding Kambili’s inability to prepare orah leaves (on p. 170. “Kambili, have you no mouth? Talk back to...