Discuss the extent to which the characters in Purple Hibiscus fall "prey to European ideals."Discuss two to three separate characters.
"The white missionaries brought us their God," Amaka was saying. "Which was the same color as them, worshiped in their language and packaged in the boxes they made."
The clearest expression of "European ideals" in Purple Hibiscus is religion. The family that is at the center of the novel are all Catholic. Like much of Africa, Nigeria was colonized in the nineteenth century and Christianity, in multiple forms, went hand and hand with imperialism. Western religion clashed with many of the indigenous religions, which were considered "pagan," "heathen," or just outright "Satanic."
In the book, Eugene, the father, is the most stereotypically European character: he has bought into Western ideas of success, which include a good car, nice house, private schools, money, and values. He is the most rigid and harsh in his Catholicism, which leads him to reject his own father's more traditional beliefs as pagan and to punish his children when he feels they are sinful. This leads to violence against both his son, whom he throws a book at, and his daughter, whom he scalds with hot water. When his father dies, he is skeptical about giving him a traditionally Nigerian funeral and wants him to have a Catholic one.
While the other members of the family are invariably influenced by their father's ideals, they do not hold them quite as strongly or fanatically. One other character who could be considered as exhibiting European values is the Nigerian priest, Father Amadi, whose very profession and vocation are an European import. He, however, is more open to discussion and criticism and seems to want to integrate Nigerian values with European, Catholic ones.
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