How Is Kambili Affected by the Turbulent Political Situation in Nigeria and How Is Her Home Life Affected?
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How is Kambili affected by the turbulent political situation in Nigeria and how is her home life affected?In Purple Hibiscus, both Kambili and the people of Nigeria were on the edge of dramatic changes. The happenings inside the Achike family and the political climate of the country were greatly intertwined. At the beginning of this novel, Kambili was a 15 year old girl who never spoke her mind. She was extremely shy and took to stuttering whenever she spoke. She lived under the rules of her father, a strict Catholic, who expected his children to be the best at everything. He would force Kambili and Jaja (her brother) to do things against their will, and this is what caused them both to hide in their shells and retreat to silence all the time, out of fear that they would be punished if they did not obey him. For example, in the book Kambili says, “I meant to say I am sorry that Papa broke your figurines, but the words that came out were, ‘I’m sorry your figurines broke, Mama’”. This shows that Kambili was too afraid to speak the truth.During this political change, many coups took place, one of which culminated in military rule. Papa and the people involved with his paper, The Standard, were against this new leader who was not actually elected by the people. This was ironic, as Papa was self-righteous in his own home. Because of this, Kambili couldn’t choose how to lead her own life; she had to accept how her father wanted her to lead it. During the novel we are given an example of Papa’s wrath when Kambili didn’t come first in her class. He was angry, frustrated and disappointed. He didn’t show any sympathy or pride for Kambili even though second place was still a very high position. This is shown when he says, “Kambili…you didn’t put your best in this term. You came second because you chose to.”When The Standard’s editor, Ade Coker was killed because of the criticism of the military rule in the paper, the Achike family finally began to realize what danger they were in. In the wake of Coker’s death, Papa is extremely distressed and beats Kambili so severely that she was hospitalized in critical condition. He beat her just because she was holding a painting of her ‘pagan’ grandfather (Papa Nnukwu), who Papa did not approve of. Both in Nigeria and at Kambili’s home, violence brought around violence.At first, Kambili and Jaja were kept away from the unrests. They only witnessed the protests, roadblocks and harassments from inside the safety of their car. However, when they went to live with Aunty Ifeoma for a few days in Nsukka, they began to see what was really happening to their country. They experienced the hardships of their aunt and cousin’s lives. Food prices were going up, people were going on strike and light and power were being shut off frequently. Kambili and Jaja never knew about this since their father was rich. When Kambili finally begun to understand what was happening, she was driven to find her voice and come out of her silence, as her cousins and aunt had political discussions all the time. Living with Aunty Ifeoma and her cousins taught her to smile, laugh and even sing, so she was a completely different person at the end of the novel compared to the beginning. The change in her personality was also caused by her father’s murder. Even though Mama was still shocked that she’d poisoned her husband and Jaja had gone to prison, all of them felt freer than when Papa had been alive. As the title suggested, it was a ‘New kind of silence’.

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Is Kambili And Beginning Of This Novel. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from