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The Significance of Food in Purple Hibiscus
Transcript of The Significance of Food in Purple Hibiscus
-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
15 year old Kambili undergoes a series of changes in her once abusive, structured, Catholic family when Nigeria falls apart. She then experiences her rite of passage with the help of Aunty Ifeoma, a university professor that is full of life. In Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Adichie portrays themes of freedom, imprisonment, silence, and love. FOOD We eat food everday for sustenance and most of the time, for pleasure.
Adichie uses these same concepts and more in the novel to show broader meanings. In Purple Hibiscus, Adichie strategically places food and meals throughout the novel in order to portray her messages such as the declining state of Nigerian culture and the increasing influence of Western culture. Components of the meals:
Communion vs. solo
Who and where
Declining influence of Nigerian culture
Increasing influence of Western culture
Importance of balance
LOVE native culture
Effect of meals on characters P.8 "The tea was always too hot, always burned my tongue, and if lunch was something peppery, my raw tongue suffered. But it didn't matter, because I knew that when the tea burned my tongue, it burned Papa's love into me."
P.31 "I held it with both hands, took a sip of the Lipton tea with sugar and milk, and placed it back on the saucer. ' Thank you, Papa,' I said, feeling the love burn my tongue" Love Sips P. 11-12 "Lunch was fufu and onugbu soup. The fufu was smooth and fluffy, Sisi made it well; she pounded the yam energetically, adding drops of water into the mortar, her cheeks contracting with the thump-thump-thump of the pestle. The soup was thick with chunks of boiled beef and dried fish and dark onugbu leaves. We ate silently. I molded the fufu into small balls with my fingers, dipped it in the soup, making sure to scoop up fish chunks, and then brought it up to my mouth." P. 64 " ' Come and eat,' he said, gesturing to the raffia mat. The enamel bowls contained flaky fufu and watery soup bereft of chunks of fish or meat. It was custom to ask, but Papa-Nnukwu expected us to say no- his eyes twinkled with mischief" P.92 "Upstairs, Sisi had set eight places at the dining table, with wide plates the color of caramel and matching napkins ironed into crisp triangles."
P. 96 "The sounds of forks meeting plates, of serving plates, of serving spoons meeting platters, filled the dining room. Sisi had drawn the curtains and turned the chandelier on, even though it was afternoon.
P. 96 "jollof rice, fufu and two different soups, fried chicken and beef, salad and cream"
P. 97 " 'Do you always eat rice with a fork and a knife and napkins?' she asked, turning to watch me." P. 115 "as she drained rice at the sink, checked on the cooking meat, blended tomatoes in a mortar."
P. 115 "kerosene stove"
P. 115 "chopped two purple onions"
P. 119 "The dining table was made of wood that cracked in the dry weather. The outermost layer was shedding, like a molting cricket, brown slices curling up from the surface. The dining chairs were mismatched. Four were made of plain wood, the kind of chairs in my classroom, and the other two were black and padded."
P. 119-120 "I looked down at the jollof rice, fried plaintains, and half of a drumstick on my plate and tried to concentrate, tried to get the food down. The plates too, were mismatched. Chima and Obiora used plastic cups while the rest of us had plain glass plates, bereft of dainty flowers or silver lines. Laughter floated over my head." P. 235 "I followed Jaja out to the backyard, watched him hold the wings down under his foot. He bent the chicken's head back. The knife glinted, meeting with the sun rays to give off sparks. The chiken had stopped squawking; perhaps it had decided to accept the inevitable. I did not look as Jaja slit its feathery neck, but I watched the chicken dance to the frenzied tunes of death. It flapped its gray wings in the red mud, twisting and flailing. Finally, it lay in a puff of sullied feathers. Jaja picked it up and dunked it in the basin of hot water that Amaka brought. There was a precision in Jaja, a singlemindedness that was cold, clinical. He started to pluck the feathers off quickly, and he did not speak until the chicken had been reduced to a slim form covered with white-yellow skin. I did not realize how long a chicken's neck is until it was plucked." P. 264 "I went to the verandah, still coughing. It was clear that I was unused to bleaching palm oil, that I was used to vegetable oil, which did not need bleaching. But there had been no resentment in Amaka's eyes, no sneer, no turndown of her lips. I was grateful when she called me back later to ask that I help her cut the ugu for the soup. I did not pur in too much how water, and the garri turned out firm and smooth. I ladled my garri onto a flat plate, pushed it to the side, and then spooned my soup beside it. I watched the soup spreading, seeping in underneath the garri. I had never done this before; at home, Jaja and I always used separate dishes for garri and soup.
We ate on the verandah, although it was almost as hot as the kitchen. "
Jaja's rite of passage: Chicken slaughter Aunty Ifeoma's meal Balance of Both Worlds Papa Nnukwu's meal Kambili's meal Kambili's rite of passage