Purple Hibiscus : Character Profiles - Kambili Achike

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Kambili Achike
Character Profile ­ Kambili Achike
Told through the eyes of emotionally scarred Kambili and the text is neutral and blunt.
Allows the reader to come to their own judgement on the basis of what they have discovered.
No influencing personal opinion of any characters and so the reader can feel whatever emotions
Internal monologue ­ Kambili doesn't speak much, but we hear her thoughts
Later more dialogue used ­ shows her "finding her voice"
The lack of personal pronouns in the opening of the novel suggests that Kambili is constantly thinking about
everyone else around her, rather than giving her own opinions or thoughts.
Kambili is portrayed as a family person, "Our gold-framed family photo." Instead of Kambili saying "My
family", she uses the pronoun "our" to show that she believes her family is united.
Using the pronouns such as, "we, our, he, she, etc," shows us that Kambili adores her family and prefers to
express their actions and thoughts rather than her own.
Kambili hardly refers to herself during her explanation of when "things started to fall apart", and therefore
readers never see the word "I" being used.
This demonstrates that Kambili felt that she didn't matter as much as Jaja or Papa did.
This then brings us to misogyny in; young females like Kambili believed that males were more important than
She alludes to emotions and events that will play out in the rest of the novel in the opening line, "Things
started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion..."
We know there is trouble to come since the opening paragraph contains an eruption of violence.
Though we do not see any abuse in this first chapter, Kambili's fear is palpable.
Her concern for her brother signifies Jaja's behaviour is new.
"Papa always sat in the front pew for Mass, with Mama, Jaja, and me sitting next to him."
This explains that Kambili was always last in terms of importance in her family.
Kambili calls her father "Papa"; it illustrates how she worships him, believing he is almost as significant as
Kambili uses simple syntax (grammar), "We had just returned from church."
This introduces Kambili as a calm, young female that puts her memories forward without attempting to create
a more complex scenario.
This creates a more story-telling type of novel, from a young girl that is writing everything from memory and
consequently, everything that is told is shortened so that she doesn't forget anything as she notifies us of
her story.
`I meant to say I am sorry that Papa broke your figurines, but the words that came out were, `I'm sorry
your figurines broke, Mama.'
As a victim of physical violence at the hands of father, Kambili is too frightened to speak the truth. Everything
she wants to say she translates into what she should say.
If Kambili were not the narrator of the novel, her true feelings would not be understood.
The Achike family must always keep up appearances, hiding the truth about Papa. Even inside their home,
Kambili cannot bring herself to blame Papa for the broken figures.
Kambili's misplaced sense of duty renders her mute.
Kambili is able to recall exactly what they eat and the chess move that Papa makes.
This creates a sinister atmosphere in the room, even before Papa begins to talk.
GCSE English Literature Exam Notes: Purple Hibiscus

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Kambili Achike
Kambili observes her father closely and observes even the slightest things about him, such as his "rectangular
This expresses Kambili's adoration for her father and the love can almost be seen reflected in her face.
"They are always so quiet...imagine what the Standard would be if we were all quiet"
Kambili grows aware of the hypocrisy of her father's position as religious leader.…read more

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Kambili Achike
Nothing bad happens to Kambili for being `sinful' by wearing shorts and lipstick.
There is a release of tension; perhaps it is not a sin after all, seeing as nothing bad happened?
Kambili's questioning of her Papa's rules is more subtle and personal as opposed to Jaja's overt rebellion e.g.
"key for his bedroom".
She doesn't reject her faith; rather she adapts it to fit her new, complex worldview.…read more

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Kambili Achike
Kambili refuses to speak to her father, yet wants to "hear his voice".
Kambili is conflicted about her feelings for her father
In page 269, the verb "laughed" is repeated four times.
This breaks the tense atmosphere between her and Father Amadi
It clearly conveys Kambili's intense happiness despite the fact that Father Amadi is leaving.
There are positive and negative connotations to `The Pieces of God's' phrase.…read more

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Kambili Achike
We'll plant new orange trees in Abba... Jaja will plant purple hibiscus, too, and I'll plant ixora so we
can suck the juices of the flowers.' I am laughing... Above, clouds like dyed cotton wool hang low, so
low I feel I can reach out and squeeze the moisture from them. The new rains will come down soon.…read more

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Kambili Achike
She overcomes adversity and is exposed to new thoughts which enable her to take a step towards
Her rehearsed platitudes are the product of abuse. The domestic violence has rendered her mute.…read more


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