Character notes: Eugene Achike
Eugene is a complex and fascinating character, whose shadow falls strongly on his wife and children. Born during the colonial period in Nigeria, he was raised by priests and left his country to study in England. Publicly, he is praised for his courageous stand against the military regime in Nigeria and admired for his success in the business world. Privately, however, he is revealed to be a religious fanatic who rules his household with his fists. Eugene is tormented by an ongoing sense of cultural inferiority.
The man of honour in society
• “Papa deserved praise for not choosing to have more sons with another woman, of course, for not choosing to take a second wife..” (p.20) • Man of principle, refuses to pay bribes to policemen (p,111) • Won a human rights award but modestly did not want to be featured in newspaper • After his death, Kambili discovers Papa anonymously donated to “children’s hospitals and motherless babies homes and disabled veterans from the civil war.”
The Colonial Product
• In denial of his cultural roots: “He hardly spoke Igbo, and although Jaja and I spoke it with Mama at home, he did not like us to speak it in public. We had to sound civilised in public, he told us; we had to speak English. Papa’s sister, Aunty Ifeoma, said once that Papa was too much of a colonial product.” P. 13 • “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.” • His feelings of shame/cultural inferiority: “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 • While Eugene rejects his own father on the grounds of his “godlessness” he is proud of Grandfather (the children’s maternal...
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