Purple Hibiscus : Character Profiles - Papa Eugene

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Papa Eugene
Character Profile ­ Papa Eugene
Papa "flung his missile" foreshadows the destruction.
His carelessness contrasts with the image if perfection that he forces his family to maintain
The missal throwing ­ is a sacrilegious (blasphemous) gesture ­ highlights that Papa /Eugene is a religious
fanatic rather than a devout believer.
"Pressed hard on the foreheads"
Indicates that he is not only trying to impose his religion upon other people, but also he is reassuring himself
Describes his intensity of his religious piety
"Enunciated" suggests that Papa is savouring the ritual, almost like a meal.
"Perfect cross" reemphasises Pap's perfect religious attitude and his concern with upholding a perfect
image as the "omelora"
Kambili's reference to his habit of offering the children a "love sip" ­ shows the way the family have been
indoctrinated by him to accept cruelty/pain as a form of love: "The tea was always too hot, always burned
my tongue ... it burned Papa's love into me."
Papa speaks mainly English because he wants to distance himself from his African roots.
His British accent belies his prominence
Papa allows himself a moment of pride in his work at the Standard - this moment of pride reveals hypocrisy in
Papa, because the Achikes must be paragons of virtue, humble and faithful.
He controls them to such an extent that they are afraid of uttering a word without his permission. E.g. when
questioned by Ade, they look at him before Jaja answers.
"Because God have given you much, He expects much from you"
By invoking God in his speech, Papa equates failure with sin.
Kambili is terrified to make one false step, and therefore cannot even handle a simple task as saying the
While waiting for a potential beating, Kambili remembers being enveloped by her father during a storm.
It is a symbol of paternal love that has been fractured by the severe punishments.
She chooses to cling to the good memories to distract her from the pain.
Although Papa asks Mama if she would like to get of the car, his question carries the threat of violence. His
question is a command and not a conversation
"Family time" is a chilling term for the limited, controlled timetable slot each day. There is no warmth to the
tone in which Kambili says this, thus implying that it is not family time; rather it is another way that Papa
controls his family.
Adichie uses Kambili's simple language to portray her as naive and unaware that her father is also sinning.
However, the reader can see past this narration and can identify Papa for the greedy "fat stomached" man
he is.
Although Papa is seen as a good Christian in Kambili's eyes because he gives money to `his' people, Papa
refuses to help poorer member of his family (Ifeoma) as well as the community (Anikwenwa).
His understanding of Christian ethic is shown to be narrow and limited.
He models himself on a God who is a punishing father who demands obedience; He doesn't reflect the more
humble, compassionate elements of Christianity such as benevolence
GCSE English Literature Exam Notes: Purple Hibiscus

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Papa Eugene
Papa-Nnukwu refuses to trade his faith for money and luxuries. There is corruption evident in the church and
corruption in Papa's power.
Papa uses money to manipulate people. Through money he has become a dictator. E.g. Father Benedict turns
a blind eye to the abuse at home because Papa generously donates to the Church.
Papa repeats the words "my house" six times to express his authority.…read more

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Papa Eugene
Papa cannot be considered either a hero or a villain, but rather a complicated human being. Adiche presents
him not as a monster but as a person we have to feel some sympathy for (his past; living in poor conditions)
He is also used as a commentary on the political situation in Nigeria; his input on the civil war is what allows
the audience to draw comparisons between what is happening in Nigeria and in the Achike home.…read more


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