Purple Hibiscus, a novel by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is centered around a young Nigerian teen, Kambili Achike. The book explores economic and political problems in a postcolonial Nigeria, but focuses mostly on religion.
Raised in a strict Catholic household, both Kambili and her younger brother, Jaja, are subjected to routine, discipline and severe punishment if there are any diversions from such. However, a clear distinction can be made when Kambili and Jaja experience a change in environment.
When the two are allowed to spend some time with Aunty Ifeoma and their cousins, they begin to see the world in a whole new light. Although both households shared common beliefs, the environment was much more relaxing and less stifling that what Kambili and Jaja had been accustomed to. Eventually, Kambili finds love, while Jaja becomes more rebellious in nature. Little did they know that this visit would completely change their lives forever.Eventually, Kambili’s family life begins to deteriorate as her father, Eugene, becomes more and more violent.
The course of events allowed the author to highlight how much of an effect their upbringing had on them through their interactions with other family members. The novel touches controversial subjects, such as religion and abuse, whilst being careful not to offend, as the contrast between the two households proves that the real problem was Eugene’s own psychological state rather than his belief system.