in Purple Hibiscus
Questions for discussion:
1. What has made Papa such a violent father?
2. What kinds of things trigger his violence?
3. Why don’t his wife and children actively resist his violence earlier? 4. What do you think of Amaka’s statement “Some people can’t handle stress”? 5. Do you think Mama’s action was justified?
6. Why do you think Jaja wanted to take the blame for her crime? 7. What kind of message does the novel as a whole give us about domestic violence?
Almost all the instances of domestic violence take place in the ‘Speaking with Our Spirits’ section
Instances of domestic violence
• Mama is beaten following the visit to Father Benedict’s she is unwilling to make due to morning sickness, she is pregnant, the news of the coup • We learn that Jaja has one disfigured finger after coming 2nd in class
When Kambili and Jaja return to Enugu from Nsukka
• Mama beaten up again
• Eye swollen, polishing étagère
BURNING OF FEET
• Trigger: Papa discovers Kambili and Jaja sleeping in a house with their “heathen” grandfather and punishes them for not telling him p. 193-4 • Punishment is planned and calculated, not an emotional outburst. • Emotion comes later: “Kambili, you are precious.” • “This is what you do when you walk into sin, you burn your feet.” • Kambili and Jaja hang on to their portrait of Papa Nnukwu as comfort • Later Papa agrees to pay for Papa N’s funeral, even though it will not be Catholic
[ In between these events:
• Nwankiti Ogechi is front pages news p. 198
• Papa warned to be careful p. 201
• Kambili is upset not to be part of Papa N’s funeral p. 203 • Ade Coker killed by mail bomb. Rain P. 206
• Papa feels guilty: “crumpled on sofa, sobbing … he seemed so small.” • Kambili gets nightmares
• Eugene becomes depressed, stops visiting factories]
BEATING OF KAMBILI