Theme Of Silence In Purple Hibiscus

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In the novel Purple Hibiscus, the reader spends the entire novel waiting for Kambili to transition from a character of silence and submission into an outspoken and self-entitled woman -- something that doesn’t fully happen by the end of the book. However, Kambili has very much changed from the beginning, just not in the dramatic way that the audience expects; Kambili’s life starts with dominance from their father. Kambili and Jaja learn to deal with their problems through silence, and eventually use silence as a means of power. The first instances of silence presented in the novel, are the silences of oppression: the type of silence that smothers Kambili’s freedom in her own household, that pits her family against each other with their lack…show more content…
Silence has turned into a weapon for them: something they can use against their Papa Eugene as a resistor in their dictatorial household. A defining moment for Kambili is when she uses silence in this way, and manages to turn the negative effects into her own source of strength: “What has gotten into you?” Papa asked. “What is wrong with you?” I lay on the floor, curled tight . . . The kicking increased in tempo . . . I curled around myself tighter. Here, Kambili lays on the floor, silent and completely vulnerable to her father’s attacks; however, this is not the form of a broken child, but someone who wields their own inaction as a tool for strength. By staying unyielding and quiet in the face of her father’s abuse, Kambili finds a way to turn her silent habits into a way for her to resist her father. The juxtaposition between voice or silence is also prevalent in this passage, as well as throughout the entire novel. Purple Hibiscus is about understanding the ways in which she can use what she already has for her own strength. A defining moment for Jaja is when Papa goads him that, “‘you must eat with us this evening, do you hear me?” But Jaja did not come out of his room. The most significant part of this passage is the way Jaja ignores his father’s actively: choosing not just to refuse dinner with the family, but also provide no clear explanation for doing so. Papa now finds himself in silence. Ignored, dismissed, and

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