Beyond the Borders of Silence: A Question of Power in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus



Silence, power, subservient, Foucault religion, freedom


Silence is a two edged sword that cuts from both ends. In her text ‘Purple Hibiscus’, Adichie Chimamanda has used silence as a dramatic technique of power play. Papa Eugene, the Antagonist, is portrayed as a man of limited words who hardly opens his mouth unless he is either ordering, scolding or reprimanding his ‘subjects’, family members whom he patronizes over with iron fist. The protagonists, Kambili, Jaja and Beatrice are involved in crisis with religious and domestic stakes from the very beginning of the narrative. The regime under their father has not only prevented them from speaking their minds but also from being themselves. The two not only struggle to make  their mouths function within the totalitarian temperament of their father’s home but also to engage and listen to the eloquent silence of their bodies sexual metamorphosis. It is the objective of the paper to substantiate Adichie’s implied meaning of silence and prove its lethal edge as an instrument of revolutionary power. Kambili, Jaja and their mother, Beatrice use a domineering silence as a survival strategy. The technique of silence is conceptualized in order to articulate how power is played by the dominant group to regulate and control the existence of the subservient trio and how they manipulate power to negotiate their existence around the margins. The text is closely examined through the theoretical framework of Michel Foucault’s idea of power and Gayatry Spivak’s; ‘Can the Subalterns speak?’


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How to Cite

Okayo Murundu, R. . (2017). Beyond the Borders of Silence: A Question of Power in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. Nairobi Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 1(1), 102-119.