What would you say is the narrative structure of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus?

Expert Answers
lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The novel is divided into four sections that, however, are not arranged following a chronological order. Told through the first person narration of its protagonist Kambili, Purple Hibiscus starts in the past, on the Palm Sunday during which the protagonist's brother Jaja rebels against thier father's religious beliefs. This section is called "Breaking Gods - Palm Sunday" and locates the beginning of the novel "in medias res" ("into the middle of things"). The narrative then has a long flashback taking readers further back into the past to explain the situation of the Achike family: "But my memories, ..." says Kambili at the end of the first section, "started before, when all the hibiscuses in our front yard were a startling red" (page 16). This long second section, "Speaking with our spirit - Before Palm Sunday", ends with almost the exact words that begin the novel. Compare: "The next day was Palm Sunday, the day Jaja did not go to communion, the day Papa threw his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines" (page 253) and "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 abd broke the figurines on the étagère" (page 3). Thus, the third section, "The Pieces of Gods - After Palm Sunday", narrates the tragic events that took place after the Palm Sunday incident, while the last section "A Different Silence - The Present" is set in the present, as its subtitles highlights. About three years have passed since the events narrated in the three previous chapters.

bhurtt | Student

The novel, 'The Purple Hibiscus' is a bildungsroman, tracing the development and transformation of a young African girl who is the main character.

The dark secrets and problems in the family are a reflection of the problems in the wider society of which Eugene is highly critical.

The book also discusses a clash of cultures, the introduced Catholicism and the traditional African religion as seen in the relationship or lack thereof between Eugene and his father.

The purple hibiscus becomes a powerful symbol in the novel as well as the broken figurines


fifiee | Student

l think it is satiric,the author uses the family to symbolise or to be a mirror to see the political set up or system at the time.

mofokk | Student

I believe that she just wanted to write on typical Igbo family life and how people always seem to take religion to the next level.