Purple Hibiscus

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Symbols within Purple Hibiscus Ben Redman

The novel Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is a story of a girl learning to find her own voice and speak out against her violent oppressive father. The novel is set in post-colonial Nigeria, in a time in which the government was run by a military dictatorship. There are a number of symbols used to help develop ideas of the novel; the three most predominant ones being purple and red hibiscuses and Mama’s figurines. The red hibiscuses are symbolic of the violence and bloodshed in Kambili’s life whereas the purple hibiscuses symbolize freedom, defiance and the courage to speak out. The figurines are symbolic of Mama’s submissive character and denial of the violence in her home. These symbols help to develop one of the main themes of freedom vs. oppression. The color red also adds to the symbolism of the red hibiscuses. Red is a color which is often associated with anger, violence and bloodshed. These are all recurring motifs in the novel with her father's reign of terror over the family. Red is the color that seems to haunt Kambili, ever since the beginning when she had to clean up her mother's blood, after the father abused and cause her to have a miss carriage. For a long time after the horrific incident, Kambili could not concentrate on anything but the "red blur" and the "narrow lines of blood" which hold together the images of her dead baby brother and her badly beaten mother. The red hibiscuses that are planted in the garden of the family's home in Enugu suggest the family's oppression, as it is only through Papa's violence that he keeps them under his control. Kambili, shows major changes throughout the story in her confidence and personality by gaining a voice. Kambili is an extremely shy girl because of she lives with the constant terror that her father reigns down on her, the father has scared Kambili to the point where she cannot even think for herself. Adicihie shows Kambili's transformation

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