Loving and Leaving: The Ethics of Postcolonial Pain in Chimamanda Adichie's Purple Hibiscus

Manisha Basu


As coming of age first-person narratives involving young women in modern African contexts, both Chimamanda Adichie’s 2003 novel Purple Hibiscus and Tsitsi Dangarembga’s 1989 novel Nervous Conditions investigate the effect of despotic patriarchs on the structures of family. At the same time both novels also reveal the ways in which their narrators emerge as critically aware intellectuals with the ability to note intimate alliances between the domestic violence of the father and the sovereign violence of the state, intertwined as these are in a nexus of colonial and neo-colonial realities. However, it is precisely in the distinct mobilizations that lead to her protagonist overcoming the deadening influence of such autocratic figures that Adichie charts out an intellectual and political trajectory radically different from the one Dangarembga’s protagonist must follow. This radically different trajectory offers important new directions for thinking about the shifting semiotics of postcolonialism in the contemporary African situation.


Postcolonialism, exile, sovereignty, bildungsroman, metropolitanization

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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