Purple Hibiscus : Character Profiles - Jaja Achike

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Jaja Achike
Character Profile ­ Jaja Achike
"The wafer gives me bad breath"- Jaja's back-talk to his father signifies that he will no longer adhere to a
faith he does not believe in simply because he is threatened by violence.
Missal throwing ­ key act of defiance, turning point
From reading the first section we know that things will reach `breaking point', so we read section two with
uneasy knowledge of events slowly building up; but also helps us to understand/further sympathise with
Jaja's actions
`I looked at Jaja and wondered if the dimness in his eyes was shame. I suddenly wished, for him, that
he had done the ima mmuo, the initiation into the spirit world..' (p87)
This is the beginning of Jaja's transformation.
Jaja is exposed to a different way of life both through the liberal beliefs of his aunt and the traditionalist
rituals of his grandfather.
Jaja compares himself to Obiora, who is well-spoken and mature for his age.
His shame at not taking part in the initiation prompts Jaja to question the authority of his father.
Papa and his religion preclude him from growing up.
Jaja is able to rethink his allegiances and make his own decisions
Thus, Jaja begins his own initiation ritual by subtly challenging the authority of his father until Palm Sunday.
Kambili is dismayed that she can no longer communicate with Jaja him via the secret language of their eyes.
BUT ultimately, Kambili and Jaja allow each other to nurture separate identities but still love one another.
Jaja runs his deformed finger, the one with "little feeling", cross Papa Nnu-Kwu's picture.
The painting has an almost healing effect
Jaja no longer hides his finger, thus indicating that he will no longer keep secret of Papa's abuse
Looking at the picture is an act of defiance
To Jaja, Papa Nnu-Kwu represents masculinity- "I have his arms".
Jaja's name derives from a legendary King, Jaja of Opobo aka The Defiant King.
He begins to defy his father and win many battles against him e.g. going to Nsukka
`Breaking Gods' title take on the meaning that Jaja's refusal to take part in mass is his `break' from God. He is
no longer a believer and has left Christianity.
"She will never heal"
Jaja is speaking of both his and Yewande's daughter's pain
Though Jaja has healed from his beatings, the psychological impact remains
Jaja's refusal to speak to Papa reveals that he is using his silence as a weapon against Papa.
His actions seem to give confidence to Kambili and Mama to defy Papa- "Mama took Jaja his food instead of
waiting for him to come down to eat".
Purple hibiscus cuttings he plants is a metaphor for him "planting" freedom in their home in
"The purple hibiscuses are about to bloom", Jaja says this the day before he defies his father on Palm
This foreshadows Jaja's rebellion and also symbolises his newfound hope and strength
GCSE English Literature Exam Notes: Purple Hibiscus

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Jaja Achike
'Why did He have to murder his own son so we would be saved? Why didn't he just go ahead and save
us?' (p289)
Jaja breaks with his faith at this point.
When he thinks of God as the father of all humans, Jaja is disappointed with him just as he is disappointed with
his own Papa.
His questioning of the Bible's parables has resonance in his own life.…read more


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