Kambili in Purple Hibiscus always identifies a Peugeot by its model number. she says the 505 was the official car of Nigeria - therefore signifying power, and then, there is the 504 and the 404....

Kambili in Purple Hibiscus always identifies a Peugeot by its model number. she says the 505 was the official car of Nigeria - therefore signifying power, and then, there is the 504 and the 404. Apart from the obvious symbols or power and social status, what other significance does the Peugeot have in the text?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one distinct symbolic use of the Peugeot is to enhance the representation of order and structure.  Kambili understands that the car embodies not only status and power, but also a sense of order.  The car is reflective of an ordering principle to the world.  The 504 model represents government interests and the other models represent aspects of this control and sense of hierarchy.  The car comes from a European nation, already representing control and order.  At the same time, it is meant to cause a distinct impression in others, something that Kambili demonstrates.  

The car represents the order and structure that Eugene embraces.  Part of the terror that he inflicts on others around him is that if there is any deviance from the order that he establishes, people pay a terrible price:  "Things started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the étagère." There are consequences for violating the order and structure that Eugene perceives as a necessary part of being in the world.  The car is a part of this structure.  It orders others' lives and ensures that they follow "the plan."  In this regard, the car is more than a vehicle.  It is a reflection of a world where structure and order control all, the very reason why Kambili understands its importance and forms the basis of her perception of it.

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