Character quotes from Purple Hibiscus
Mama - Beatrice Achike
- “there was so much that she did not mind.” (p. 19) - “She spoke the way a bird eats, in small amounts.” (p. 20) - Always submits to Eugene, e.g. when she has morning sickness asks to stay in the car, but when re-questioned by him, she submits and comes in. He controls her almost like a benign dictator – not even needing to command her. - She usually speaks in a whisper p123
- She feels terrible when her children are punished by Eugene but is too fearful of him to do anything – until later - Her response – parallels many people under tyranny – although she begins to resist - After Kambili and Jaja have been staying with IFeoma for a while, she comes down. P. 248 She had been pregnant again – and after another beating, miscarried and was taken to hospital. When she gets back, she takes Eugene’s money and gets a taxi to Nsukka. - However – she is still weak – when Eugene speaks to her on the phone she says they are going back home: “she looked possessed by a different demon” 250. She continues to justify to Ifeoma why Eugene is a good man – she can see his good intentions and excuses his behaviour through stress - 290 – Mama confesses “I started putting poison in his tea before I came to Nsukka. Sisi got it for me; her uncle is a powerful witch doctor.” – this was an act of desperation – and her response is calm, as if she expected to be found out - Afterwards, she is forever changed. She doesn’t care about her appearance p 296, her skin is speckled with blackheads, she writes letters to newspapers saying she killed him – she is mentally unstable
Papa – Eugene Achike
• “Papa deserved praise for not choosing to have more sons with another woman, of course, for not choosing to take a second wife. But then, Papa was different. I wished Mama would not compare him to Mr Ezendu, with anybody; it lowered him, soiled him.” (p.20) • “Papa liked order.” He draws up meticulous schedules for his children, dictating how long they were able to study, sleep, pray or spend with the family. P. 24 • He had left Nigeria and studied in England
• Ironies of his comments about the coup (p, 24-5) – he says Nigeria needs a renewed democracy – yet he rules his own family as a dictator. There is no freedom of speech or thought in his home. He describes the military men as “power drunk” – but what is he in light of how he responds to Jaja? • His strength in opposing the regime – his paper publishes exposes – leading to soldiers arresting his editor Ade Coker. • “Papa changed his accent when he spoke, sounding British, …. He was gracious in the eager-to-please way he always assumed with the religious, especially the white religious.” P. 46 He puts on airs with certain people to try and fit in. Itseems to want to show whites he is their equal / or is not comfortable with being Nigerian. Seeking approval. (?his childhood – did he also feel unloved?) • “I didn’t have a father who sent me to the best schools. My father spent his time worshipping gods of wood and stone. I would be nothing today but for the priests and sisters at the mission.” P. 47 – the church has given him his sense of significance in the society [sim to Okonkwo’s status in tribe] • P. 67 While Eugene rejects his own father on the grounds of his “godlessness” he is proud of Grandfather (the children’s maternal grandfather). “Grandfather was very light skinned, almost albino.. he determinedly spoke English… He knew Latin too…” • He is revered in church settings, e g on Christmas day p. 90 “He led the way out of the hall, smiling and waving at the many hands that reached out to grasp his white tunic as if touching him would heal them of an illness.” • He is seated with a chief and the Igwe (a King) who later comes and visits him. Amaka is surprised but concludes it must be “because your father is a Big Man.” 93 •...
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