"Mama started with a prayer for peace and for the rulers of our country."
Belief and faith play an important part in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's debut novel, Purple Hibiscus. Set in postcolonial Nigeria, where Adichie is from, the book is about a prosperous family of four and narrated by the teenage daughter, Kambili.
The entire family is Catholic; they regularly attend church and read the Bible, and both children go to a religious school. The father, Eugene, in particular, has a strong and rigid faith, which leads him to have high, perhaps unrealistic, expectations for his children—and to abuse them when he feels they have sinned, at one point putting his daughter in the hospital.
One of the themes of the novel is the tension between the Western religion that was brought to the country by the British colonists and the indigenous beliefs and traditions, which are represented by Eugene's father. When discussing these older, native beliefs, Eugene uses words like "pagan," "heathen," and "idols."
His sister, the children's aunt Ifeoma, is also religious but more open and accepting of other beliefs. She seems to think that it is important not to forget their past, and when the children go to visit her, they find a house that is full of laughter and discussion, rather than the highly regimented and harsh atmosphere of their own house.