Symbols In Purple Hibiscus

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Development of a Bildungsroman Story through Symbolism Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, narrates a coming of age story in which Kambili and Jaja must face political unrest and a strict home life in Nigeria. Defined as a bildungsroman, a specific type of novel that “focuses on the psychological and moral growth” of the protagonist, Purple Hibiscus recounts the story of fifteen year old Kambili Achike’s journey of finding her own voice and speaking out against her oppressive father (Literary). Kambili seeks to define herself in a world beyond the one her tyrannical and violent father created for her. The author uses the symbols of red hibiscus, purple hibiscus, lipstick, and silence to illustrate the themes of the story. A flower…show more content…
As the novel progresses, Jaja and Kambili are first introduced to purple hibiscuses by Aunty Ifoema when they travel to Nsukka. “I did not know there are purple hibiscuses” (128). The author’s choice of setting plays a significant role because Nsukka embodies the place where Kambili and Jaja feel most at ease and free. Even at the end of novel, Kambili contemplates, “Nsukka could free something deep inside your belly that would rise up to your throat and come out as a freedom song. As laughter” (299). Things take a vital step forward in the evolution of Jaja and Kambili when they take a purple hibiscus plant to transplant in Enugu. “Jaja’s eyes shone as he talked about the hibiscuses as he held them out so I could touch the cold, moist sticks” (197). Additionally, established by Kambili, the plant represents internal emancipation: “rare, fragrant with the undertones of freedom, a different kind of freedom from the one crowd the crowds waving green leaves chanted. A freedom to be, to do” (16). Encompassed by defiance and fighting back, this new freedom comes by challenging dominant powers. Therefore, purple hibiscus plays a very vital role in the bildungsroman novel as it serves as a powerful symbol of budding…show more content…
At the beginning of the book, the children and their mother rely cripplingly on muteness and live on expectations. For most of her life, Kambili has been quiet and communication between her brother and mother was “more with [their] spirits than [their] lips” (16). Papa raised them to silent at home, in school and in church. He even boasts, “They are not like those loud children people are raising these days, with no home training and no fear of God” (58). The silence in Enugu consists of bleakness, desolateness, and moroseness. The author uses silence to show the family’s oppression. Nevertheless, things take a turning point when she visits Nsukka. At first she remains silent, wondering “how Amaka did it, how she opened her mouth and had words flow easily out” (99). In the same manner at the dinner table, she ponders on how easily “words spurted from everyone […] yet [her family] always spoke with a purpose back home, especially at the table but [her] cousins seemed to simply speak and speak and speak” (120). However, when challenged by Aunty Ifoema to talk back to her cousin, Kambili finally breaks free. “You don’t have to shout, Amaka, I don’t know how to do the orah leaves, but you can show me” (170). Shocked by her own voice, she does not even realize where the calm words and courage had come from. She metamorphoses from a timorous and uneasy person to a strong and
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