Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and the Thing around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A Thematic Study

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and the Thing around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A Thematic Study

Article excerpt


Ohwovoriole concurs with Brown that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a social realist whose premium task is to paint a picture of African woman's condition (2010, 1981 respectively). Symbolically, her works are like the imaginary 'weapons' which are used to expose and shatter male hegemony (Nfah - Abbenyi: 1997); with the aim of transformation (Alijah. 1999). The condition of the African woman in terms of education, marginalization, marriage, fertility, childbirth and corruption deserve keen attention. Many of Chimamanda's predecessors: Emecheta, Aidoo, Mariama Ba, Darko, etcetera, and even some male writer's sympathetic of the plight of the woman in Africa, have in various ways portrayed this. Chimamanda Adichie, emerging at the dawn of the 21st century, sheds new light on feminism in a way that makes interesting reading. This work is a detailed discussion of the various themes on feminism as espoused in all three works.

The Education of Women

The first theme worth discussing is education of the woman, and most importantly the African woman. Until recently, it was widely believed that no matter the level of education that a woman receives, she will end up in somebody's kitchen. This ideology is clearly expressed in Mama Odenigbo's assertion that: too much schooling ruins a woman" (HYS. pg. 100) In her view, high education like the one her son has, when obtained by a woman ruins her. There is no wonder that, Amala, her choice of wife for her son is uneducated. There is again, no doubt that if this woman had two children, boy and girl, she would have the male educated and keep the female at home; in the kitchen.

Further in PH, Chimamanda juxtaposes the lives of two women: Mama Beatrice and Aunty Ifeoma. The lives of these two present two contrasting yet critical issues worthy of analysis. Mama Beatrice, wife of Eugene, is a house wife. Though she lives in a well-resourced house and has everything at her disposal, she has no say in anything that is decided upon in her home. The final decision on everything that happens around her rests with her husband. To her, marriage is very important for every woman and no matter what happens; a woman must stick to her marriage and do well to keep it intact. She is symbolic of our womenfolk who have given up under the yoke of gender segregation, resigned to fate and have resolved to live in masochism. Aunty Ifeoma on the other hand is a well-educated, enlightened and a liberated woman. Even though a widow, she works as a single parent and takes good care of her children. She believes that marriage does not make a woman whole, and with or without marriage a woman should be able to lead a full life. She tries to impart this knowledge to Mama Beatrice who won't have any of it. What is the impact of the lives of these two women on their dependants? The children of Mama Beatrice are constantly bullied by their autocratic father and so are timid. Those of aunty Ifeoma are bold, confident and independent.

There is no gain saying that if aunty Ifeoma were Eugene's wife, the narrative would have ended differently. The conclusion is that good education of the female child is an essential ingredient to development in general, and a healthy family in particular. It empowers the woman to contribute effectively to the progress and sustainability of the home (family) and the community at large. This affirms Kweigyir Aggrey's statement that: "...if you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family (cited in Dankwa.2011). Alijah (quoted above) concurs with Aggrey that the female figure occupies very important position in the African society. This is because; she provides crucial environmental experiences for her children and dependants. In addition, she is the bearer and nurturer of life and through their maternal instincts, the whole community is shaped.

Marginalization and Women

Again, marginalization is another major theme in these texts. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.