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Published: 17-12-2019

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Purple Hibiscus and Things Fall Apart: Comparing Father/Son Relationship Themes

Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Chinua Achebe’s Items Fall Apart both emphasize the complexities of father-son relationships. The major theme of parental conflict is created throughout the course of both texts and serves to illustrate the impact of Western imperialism on Igbo culture. Although Adichie openly acknowledges that she was inspired by Achebe, a closer look at the nuanced variations in between the two novels illuminates Adichie’s personal voice. Okonkwo, the misogynistic character with a masculinity complicated, is a man nonetheless scarred by his father’s pathetic reputation in Factors Fall Apart. His father’s ill repute and lack of titles spur Okonkwo to pursue a better life in an attempt to dissociate himself from his father. On the other hand, Eugene, the antagonist and father figure in Purple Hibiscus, ostracizes his father on the basis of religious disagreement. Adichie utilizes the variations amongst Eugene’s and Okonkwo’s paternal conflicts to comment on the adjustments that Western colonialism has brought about in Nigeria.

Even even though Achebe’s and Adichie’s functions of realistic fiction share many similarities, the causes for and strategies by which Eugene and Okonkwo respond to paternal conflict differ, as a result enabling Adichie to portray the transition from Igbo to European-influenced Nigerian culture.The enmity amongst Okonkwo and his father, Unoka, is founded on the unadulterated requirements of Igbo culture. Far more specifically, the instability is the outcome of Unoka’s lack of determination and wealth : “When Unoka died he had taken no title at all and he was heavily in debt. Any wonder then that his son Okonkwo was ashamed of him?” (pg.8). Unoka’s failure in becoming a notable member within Umuofia is what gives Okonkwo the drive to strive for greatness. The standards present in Umuofia have not yet been impacted by European colonialism, and, as such, give insight to the “original” values of Igbo tradition. As a outcome, Adichie is capable to use these standards as a foundation to develop her personal father-son dynamic by representing the partnership in between Eugene and Papa Nnukwu via a various lens.While Okonkwo’s society in Umuofia underscores the value of titles and status, Eugene’s a lot more contemporary society in Enugu prioritizes Catholic principles, these which had been derived from colonialism. The discord between Eugene and Papa Nnukwu is due to a basic distinction in religious ideology. Eugene, who is Catholic, instills in his children the notion that taking portion in or even observing any Igbo tradition is a sin. This belief makes a steady relationship with his father impossible, and leads to the estrangement of Papa Nnukwu in Eugene’s life. Eugene credits his prosperous life not to the guidance of his father but to the missionary college he attended as a kid: “I didn’t have a father who sent me to the ideal schools. My father spent his time worshipping gods of wood and stone. I would be nothing right now but for the priests and sisters at the mission” (p. 47). He believes that Papa Nnukwu, who practices Igbo traditions, is a heathen and goes as far as to severely limit Jaja’s and Kambili’s interactions with him. Papa Nnukwu never ever wronged Eugene in fact, it was Papa Nnukwu’s choice to send Eugene to the missionary college. Even so, right after getting indoctrinated into a set of stringent beliefs prohibiting him from coming in speak to with a non-believer, Eugene distances himself and his family from his father. Papa Nnukwu falls short of Eugene’s requirements and is consequently shunned. The transition of Nigerian society is evident not only in Eugene’s preference for the white pastor, Father Benedict, more than the Nigerian pastor, Father Amadi, but also in Eugene’s fabricated British accent when speaking to Father Benedict.

The ways in which every character responds to parental conflict are also dissimilar. Okonkwo espouses a set of ideals that are totally opposite to those of Unoka in an attempt to differentiate himself from his father’s undesirable legacy. Umuofia does not judge an person on his or her ancestors rather, judgment is predicated on the actions of the person. Umuofia’s leniency permits Okonkwo to pursue a greater life, and he ultimately accomplishes his aim: “Although Okonkwo was still young, he was currently one of the greatest guys of his time. Age was respected among his men and women, but achievement was revered. As the elders mentioned, if a child washed his hands he could consume with kings. Okonkwo had clearly washed his hands so he ate with kings and elders” (pg.8). By means of perseverance and determination, Okonkwo is in a position to establish himself as one of the “greatest men of his time.” His character differs completely from that of Unoka Unoka was cowardly, lazy and of slight build. In contrast, Okonkwo was the greatest wrestler in all nine villages, steadfast in his work ethic, and respected all through the community. Okonkwo is mentioned to have “washed his hands” suggestive of the truth that he has dissociated himself from the bad name of his father and has become a revered member of Umuofia. The struggle that Okonkwo faces can be categorized as an external one particular, in that it is largely societal pressure which motivates Okonkwo.

Adichie alters the underlying factors for conflict seen in Issues Fall Apart in her depiction of Eugene and Papa Nnukwu to demonstrate the loss of cultural identity as a result of imperialism. The dissension amongst Eugene and Papa Nnukwu is a paradigm for the cultural clash occurring on a larger scale inside Nigeria. Although Eugene practices Catholicism, a item of Christian expansionism in Africa, Papa Nnukwu practices the age-old Igbo tradition. Adichie contrasts Igbo tradition with European tradition throughout the text to symbolize the transformation of postcolonial Nigerian society. Eugene’s forthright disapproval of Igbo tradition is ubiquitous all through the text, to the extent that he urges his household to refrain from speaking in Igbo: “He [Eugene] hardly spoke Igbo, and though Jaja and I spoke it with Mama at residence, he did not like us to speak it in public. We had to sound civilized in public, he told us we had to speak English” (pg. 16). Eugene’s try to inculcate in his children the notion that English is the “civilized” language is indicative of the deep-seated imperialist influence in Nigeria and the degree to which Eugene has internalized it. Adichie makes use of Eugene’s relationship with his father as a implies to further create the notion of an ideological conflict amongst generations as a outcome of colonialist influence.

The differences in Adichie’s and Achebe’s portrayals of father-son conflict exemplify Adichie’s own expression of the effects of European influence on Nigerian society. Although both Eugene and Okonkwo have unstable bonds with their fathers, the core of every feud varies. Whilst Okonkwo’s connection is affected by the requirements of untouched Igbo tradition, Eugene’s relationship with his father is impacted by the standards of postcolonial Nigerian society. By shifting the context and nature of Eugene and Papa Nnukwu’s connection, Adichie basically resumes the novel where Achebe had stopped. Offered that Purple Hibiscus requires spot soon after Items Fall Apart, Adichie makes use of the time gap to convey the cultural change. The heightened significance of Catholicism that Adichie depicts symbolizes the influence of colonialism on Nigerian and furthermore Igbo culture, the contention in between “white man’s” and “black man’s” ideology. On a bigger scale, Adichie subtly illustrates the convergence of indigenous Nigerian culture and imperialistic European culture and shows the shift in religious ideology as a outcome, undertaking so via the microcosm of father-son relationships.
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