Purple Hibiscus

How do the behaviour of the Achikes at home differ to their behaviour in public?

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The behavior of Achike family in public is that of the perfect family. Her father is well respected by the community and the church. The Achikes do not participate in any “heathen” or “pagan” rituals and are therefore singled out as model Catholics. The picture we first see, however, is far from the reality. Papa's outward, public actions are a far cry from the abusive, private actions of a husband and father. The home becomes a battleground of wills and a scene of punishment.

Papa is a product of a colonialist education. He was schooled by missionaries and studied in English. The wisdom he takes back to Nigeria is largely informed by those who have colonized his country. He abandons the traditions of his ancestors and chooses to speak primarily in British-accented English in public. His large estate is filled with western luxuries like satellite TV and music. Amaka assumes that Kambili follows American pop stars while she listens to musicians who embrace their African heritage. But the trappings of Papa’s success are hollow. The children are not allowed to watch television. His home, modernized up to Western standards, is for appearances only. There is emptiness in his home just as his accent is falsified in front of whites.

For a further look at the theme is silence and abuse, check out Gradesaver's theme page. The direct link is provided below.