Silence In Purple Hibiscus

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The function of silence in Purple Hibiscus by Chimamada Ngozi Adichie, significantly characterises the relationships the protagonist, Kambili, shares with specific family members. Silence functions as an important aspect of the relationship, primarily between Kambili and her father. Kambili’s silence is a product the abuse and oppression she experiences from her father. She is portrayed as a shy and un-opinionated young girl due to the increasing role silence plays in her character development. The way in which she interacts with the characters throughout the novel is directly influenced by the silence she exhibits. “Is this how you wash plates in your house?” she asked. “Or is plate washing not included in your fancy schedule?” I stood there,…show more content…
“My lips held stubbornly together” (141) Kambili’s silence is a result of the abuse that she endures from her father. She fails to be honest with herself in her home environment. “I felt a throbbing on my back, but I said no, that I was not hurt.” (102) She is unable to speak freely but rather states rehearsed phrases that have been instilled in her by Eugene. She stutters and coughs amongst talking due to fear of her father’s criticism. Kambili refuses to implicate her father in his own acts of violence through the formulation of her sentences. She removes the blame from her phrases and in this way power relations are depicted through the use of specific linguistic choices and language placement. I wanted to say “Yes, Papa,” because he was right, but the burning on my feet was climbing up, in swift courses of excruciating pain, to my head and lips and eyes.” (194) Her admiration and respect for him causes her to remove the blame and ignore Eugene’s abusive actions. Kambili continuously removes agency from her statements when talking about her father. “I meant to say I am sorry Papa broke your figurines, but the words that came out were, ‘I’m sorry your figurines broke, Mama’” (10) (Adichie,
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