Purple Hibiscus

What is the difference in how Eugene and Papa-Nnukwu see virtue and goodness

Eugene is a christian and only things christian is good and virtuous to him. Any kind of traditional spirituality is bad. It is ironical that Eugene treats his family cruelly yet treats church members well and Papa N is plain looving, kind and good to all.

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Another look at the religious theme in Purple Hibiscus;


There is a contrast between Father Benedict and Father Amadi. Priest at Papa’s beloved St. Agnes, Father Benedict is a white man from England who conducts his masses according to European custom. Papa adheres to Father Benedict’s style, banishing every trace of his own Nigerian heritage. Papa uses his faith to justify abusing his children. Religion alone is not to blame. Papa represents the wave of fundamentalism in Nigeria that corrupts faith.

Father Amadi, on the other hand, is an African priest who blends Catholicism with Igbo traditions. He believes that faith is both simpler and more complex than what Father Benedict preaches. Father Amadi is a modern African man who is culturally-conscious but influenced by the colonial history of his country. He is not a moral absolutist like Papa and his God. Religion, when wielded by someone gentle, can be a positive force, as it is in Kambili’s life.

Papa-Nnukwu is a traditionalist. He follows the rituals of his ancestors and believes in a pantheistic model of religion. Though both his son and daughter converted to Catholicism, Papa-Nnukwu held on to his roots. When Kambili witnesses his morning ritual, she realizes that their faiths are not as different as they appear. Kambili’s faith extends beyond the boundaries of one religion. She revels in the beauty of nature, her family, her prayer, and the Bible. When she witnesses the miracle at Aokpe, Kambili’s devotion is confirmed. Aunty Ifeoma agrees that God was present even though she did not see the apparition. God is all around Kambili and her family, and can take the form of a smile.

The individualistic nature of faith is explored in Purple Hibiscus. Kambili tempers her devotion with a reverence for her ancestors. Jaja and Amaka end up rejecting their faith because it is inexorably linked to Papa and colonialism, respectively.