Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and issues of ideology in the constitution of the Nigerian novel

Onyemaechi Udumukwu

Abstract


The interplay of the subject and concept of ideological interpellation in Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus is exemplary of how the Nigerian
novel represents the changing experience of nationhood in Nigeria. Adichie’s novel adopts the element of voice as a veritable
strategy for the constitution of this interplay of subjects and interpellation. Accordingly, the novel negotiates the tension between
the two aspects of voice, that of who sees and that of who narrates. Through the homodiegetic character, Kambili, whose name
means “That I too may live”, Adichie presents a dialectical situation between characters understood as subjects, with the eventual
emergence of Kambili to self-knowledge and condition of social responsibility. The aim of this is to examine how Adichie’s Purple
Hibiscus is typical of how the Nigerian novel engages itself in issues of ideology and how these issues, in turn, crystallize the
challenges of nation-ness in Nigeria. We begin by recalling Walter Benjamin’s timely assertion that the novel gives evidence of
the profound perplexity of living. The significance of Benjamin’s assertion for the Nigerian novel is the sense of anxious conjuncture
that disavows the fixity and current of certainty in the oral tale. The implication of this for the Nigerian novel is its formal
dynamism that enables it to illuminate the changing challenges of nationhood. Key words: characterisation; Chimamanda
Ngozi Adichie; ideology; Nigerian fiction.

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