Purple Hibiscus

The Power of Setting in "Purple Hibiscus" by Chimamanda Adichie 11th Grade

The novel Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie, set in post-colonial Nigeria during the Civil War in the late 1960s, is a bildungsroman that focuses greatly on family relationships as well as religious and cultural ideals. The passage describing Kambili and Jaja’s first meal at their Aunt’s house in Nsukka provides a stark contrast to the oppressive atmosphere in Enugu as a result of her father’s abusive nature. The freedom and vibrancy of Aunty Ifeoma’s household despite their financial limitations bewilders Kambili, while lifting the restrictions on her life and exposing her to radically diverse values and beliefs. Adichie foreshadows the development of Kambili’s character through the immense contrast between her own home and the Nsukka household’s open and loving environment.

Adichie emphasizes the symbolic setting in this passage to powerfully convey the disparity in attitudes of Kambili’s and Aunty Ifeoma’s families. The gap in wealth is dealt with frequently, highlighting that greater material satisfaction is not as beneficial as the spiritually nurturing environment of Nsukka. Adichie uses natural imagery while describing the dining table in the second paragraph of the...

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