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Transcript of Purple Hibiscus
What characters in the novel choose silence over speaking up?
What are the consequences of their silence?
What could the result have been if they had not been silent?
Lack of Silence
In the novel "Purple Hibiscus" there are many consequences both when characters are silent and also when they are not. This poses the theme of is the choice to speak out better or worse than choosing to remain silent.
By: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The choices of the characters in the novel, focusing mainly on Kambili and the outcomes of their choices to be silent or not.
Alternate possibilities if they had done the opposite action.
Is it better to remain silent? Or is it better to say what you're thinking and feeling? To stand up for what you believe in and for what you think is right?
Kambili doesn't talk to the girls at her school....
Consequence: She has few friends and the girls call her a "backyard snob"
"You know, she started calling you backyard snob because you don't talk to anybody." (pg 51)
Alternative: If she was not silent she would not be called a snob and she would likely have more friends.
In Nsukka Kambili at first does not talk much to her family members and Father Amadi...
She is unable to explain to Amaka that she is wrong about her being a privileged snob
She is unable to voice her thoughts and feelings
She is unable to develop relationships with her extended family
"I sat still on the edge of the bed, hands clasped, wanting to tell Amaka that I did not own a cassette player..." (pg 118)
If she had not been silent she and Amaka would've been able to develop a relationship sooner and Amaka would be more able to understand her
She would be able to voice and have others know her thoughts and feelings
She would not need Aunty Ifeoma to speak for her
"I stood there, staring at her, wishing Aunty Ifeoma were there to speak for me."
Kambili does not talk about what Papa does to them...
Nobody knows so nobody can help
She keeps all the trauma inside and doesn't acknowledge or talk about it and is therefore unable to psychologically heal
By not talking to even Jaja and Mama she is isolating herself from them and form other people
""Jaja told me a little about your father the other day, Kambili." I bit my lower lip. What had Jaja said to him? What was wrong with Jaja, anyway?" (pg 175)
She would be less in denial and more able to come to terms with what happend to her
If she didn't isolate herself from Jaja and Mama they would be more likely to stand up for themselves because they wouldn't be alone.
If Father Amadi and Aunty Ifeoma and others who care for them knew they might have been able to help
Mama doesn't stand up to Papa and doesn't tell anyone what he does to them...
She doesn't do anything to protect her children, alive or unborn.
She does nothing to protect herself
By being silent she is indirectly teaching Kambili and Jaja to be silent about it as well
"There was an accident, the baby is gone." (pg 34)
If from the beginning she'd stood up against Papa's abuse, it may not have continued
If she'd spoken to someone they may have been able to help protect her and her children
Kambili and Jaja would've grown up learning to be strong and stand up for themselves instead of being silent
If the abuse had stopped their home would be safer and her babies could have survived
If her babies had survived the umunna wouldn't have suggested Papa take another wife and she would not feel as indebted to him
"You know after you came and I had the miscarriages, the villagers started to whisper. The members ofmour umunna even sent people to your father to urge him to have children with someone else... But your father stayed with us." (pg 20)
Mama was looking down; her hands were placed over her belly... "My body does not feel right,"she mumbled. "I asked if you were sure you wanted to stay in the car." Mama looked up "I'll come with you. It's not really that bad." (pg 29)
"I was in my room after lunch...when I heard the sounds. Swift, heavy thuds on my parents' hand carved bed-room door." (pg 32)
Kambili and Jaja
Kambili and Jaja do not tell Papa about Papa Nnukwu being in Nsukka...
Consequences: Papa comes to get them from Nsukka and he punishes them by pouring boiling water on their feet
"I sleep in the same room as my grandfather. He is a heathen... It is a sin." (pg 175)
"I saw the moist steam before I saw the water. I watched the water leave the kettle, flowing almost in a slow motion arc to my feet... And then I screamed."That is what you do to yourself when you walk into sin. You burn your feet."
Alternative: They would've been taken away from Nsukka sooner and would not have had the chance to develop the relationship that they did with their extended family, particularly they wouldn't have developed a relationship with Papa Nnukwu before he died
"I wanted to hug her... and wipe away her tears. I wanted to cry loudly... with her... I did not have the right to mourn Papa Nnukwu with her; he had been her Papa Nnukwu more than mine." (pg 187)
What characters in the novel do not remain silent?
What is the consequence of their choice to speak out?
What could the result have been if they had stayed silent?
Was their choice to speak out worth the consequences they faced? Why?
Kambili tells Father Amadi that she loves him...
Consequence: She gets heartbroken
She would be containing strong feelings
She would be left with unanswered questions and unresolved feelings
She would be even less likely to get what she wanted if she didn't tell him how she felt
Was it worth the consequence? Why or why not?
Yes. The benefits of telling Father Amadi outweigh the negatives.
Her confession shows a huge amount of personal growth as she rarely speaks her feelings and thoughts.
She gets answers and isn't forced to live unresolved questions.
She is able to become more accepting of how she feels through voicing her emotions, it also allows her to develop and mature
This is a drastic transition from silence to avoid pain to speaking inspite of the potential to get hurt
Kambili intentionally doesn't hide the painting of Papa Nnukwu from Papa...
Consequences: Papa beats her to the point she requires hospitalization and destroys the painting
Alternative: She would be unharmed and the painting would still exist and still be hidden
Yes. Showing Papa the painting and not remaining "silent" in this case meaning no longer hiding the painting was worth the consequence.
Not hiding the painting was a form of rebellion and they were silently speaking up for themselves
This rebellion can be seen as a protest against Papa and his extremist views and against the way he shunned Papa Nnukwu before he died
Them having a painting of their Grandfather shows that they cared for him and had a relationship with him even though he was a "heathen".
This event was a push for change in their household and a revolt against how things were
Was it worth the consequence? Why or why not?
Aunty Ifeoma speaks the truth about the University and the Government...
She is prevented from promotion
She is placed on a list of "disloyal" teachers
Her home is ransacked and she is accused of inciting student riots
She is fired and is forced to leave her home and move to America.
She would continue to work in the university run by the sole administrator
She would continue to not be paid
Her family would continue to have a lack of resources
She would continue not being promoted although she should have been
Was it worth the consequence? Why or why not?
Yes. Speaking the truth about the university and government was worth the consequences.
She was following her morals and doing what she believed was right
She was standing up against an unjust system
She was acting based on her beliefs and standing up for herself, her fellow teachers and her students
The consequences resulted in her having a job that actually paid so she can support her family and the members of her family, particularly Obiora benefitted from having to leave Nigeria
Mama confesses to Jaja and Kambili that she killed Papa...
Jaja confesses to the police in order to protect her and goes to prison for three years in her place.
She tries to tell other people she did it to save Jaja but nobody believes her
Kambili is very angry at first
She confesses to the police first before telling her children
Jaja doesn't go to prison
Jaja is able to finish school and go to university and have a life instead of sacrificing it for her
Her children would be free and safe and take care of eachother
Police investigation could've proved it was someone else and everyone would've been okay
Papa and Ade Coker
Papa and Ade Coker write about the corruption and crimes of the government in "The Standard"...
"The Standard" offices ger ransacked
Papa's factory gets sabotaged and shut down causing many people to lose their jobs
Ade Coker gets arrested and tortured twice
Ade Coker gets murdered in front of his family
"The Standard" is forced to shut down
They don't write about the crimes and corruption of the government
Nobody knows what the government is really doing and the horrible things they've done
Nobody knows what is actually happening in their country and therefore nobody can do anything about it
The government and the head of state are able to continue doing whatever they want without being held accountable for their crimes and actions
Was it worth the consequences? Why or why not?
Yes. The consequences were worth the risks.
By reporting the crimes and corrupt systems of the government, Papa and Ade knew what the risks where and yet they continued printing
Ade knew the risks and was willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of the country, he was fighting to make it a better place
If everyone in the country was left uninformed of the realities of what the government was doing, nobody would be able to fight for change
They were following their morals and beliefs and doing what they thought was the right thing to do
"it takes a courageous fool to say things that have not been said and to do things that have not been done.”
― Criss Jami,
"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
-Martin Luther King Jr.
"I don't mind if my future is long or short, as long as I'm doing the right thing."
Pros and Cons of Silence
In silence people hide what they're thinking, what they're feeling and who they really are
There is no risk in offending anyone if you never say anything
If you are speaking out against something you think is wrong, you are following your beliefs and morals
Speaking out allows you to defend and fight for your beliefs, people important to you and yourself
Speaking can convey knowledge
Speaking can promote change
In the novel "Purple Hibiscus", Silence is used as a theme in many aspects. Silence as a punishment, freedom of speech, forced silence, and silence due to fear. Despite the oppression, abuse and risks that those who speak out face, it is better to not be silent and to say what one thinks and believes and use their voice to fight for what is right.
"I wished I could think about something,anything so that I would no longer feel. I wished I could blink the liquid out of my eyes." (pg 276)
"Perhaps we all changed after Nsukka- even Papa-and things were destined to not be the same..." (pg 209)
"When do we speak out,eh? When the soldiers are appointed lecturers and students attend lectures with guns to their heads?" (pg 223)
"I started putting poison in his tea before I came to Nsukka" (pg 290)
"Jaja did not wait for thei questions;he told them he had used rat poison, that he put it in Papa's tea." (pg 291)
Ade Coker was blown up when he opened the package- a package everyone would have known was from the Head of State... (he had) looked at the envelope and said "It has the State House seal" before he opened it." (pg 206)