in purple hibiscus
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Silence is one of the novel's main themes. Kambili is physically affected by her need for silence. She has a hard time speaking.... she stutters, and she's afraid of saying the wrong thing. Her father has instilled fear in her, and he has kept her from making friends. His abuse has created a world of isolation that she cannot escape.
Mama's silence, like Kambili's, is created by the fear and abuse of her husband. She isn't allowed to speak her mind in her own home, she walks on egg shells. It's all about keeping the peace.... or at least keeping things silent.