Gender Roles And Abuse: Purple Hibiscus Vs. Sin Is A Puppy

1759 words - 7 pages

In a world that often seems to revolve around patriarchy, we are all taught about gender roles and pressured to adhere to them, whether they are enforced or not. For example, the female gender role involves women having children, cooking and cleaning, and being overall submissive. The male gender role focuses on men being the “bread-winners” and “protectors” of their household, by working, being tough, and having a dominant nature. In both Purple Hibiscus and Sin is a Puppy that Follows You Home (commonly referred to as Sin is a Puppy), two West-African based novels written by female, feminist authors, the characters seemed to fit into their stereotypical gender roles perfectly, especially Beatrice and Rabi, the two matriarchs of the novels, respectfully. However, when it came to tolerating their husbands’ abuse, the two matriarchs handled this situation differently, in the end. The text itself also has a lot to do with these differing reactions. Both texts focus on different societies, are intended for different audiences, and have different overall purposes. Even though both matriarchs stem from similar backgrounds and were both forced into strict, specified gender roles, Beatrice and Rabi had polar opposite responses to the abuse from their husbands due to how the different facets of their gender roles and specific textual aspects impacted them as characters.
Firstly, I believe that it’s important to address the differences in the two general texts before delving into why the specific, matriarchal characters had such differing reactions. For example, the setting of both texts are pretty different. Purple Hibiscus is set in a more modernized and heavily Christian Igbo society in Nigeria, while Sin is a Puppy is set in a more conservative, Muslim society in Kano. Both matriarchs seem to be heavily influenced by their environment and surrounding culture. Eugene, Beatrice’s husband, is a devout catholic who follows the Bible according to European customs, which automatically influences Beatrice to do the same since she, as a wife, is meant to serve her husband. In Islamic Nigeria, traditional gender roles are often kept in place, so Rabi was also subservient to her husband. However, Rabi had the strong support system of her siblings to help her financially (Yakubu, location 150), while Beatrice only had Eugene to depend on. So, as you can see, the circumstances are a little different. However, you would think that the one who has to depend on her husband the most would be the one to not kill her husband in the end, but that was not the case. There are other factors that lead to this, such as the intended audience and purposes of the texts.
Both novels were written by Nigerian women, however, Chimanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of Purple Hibiscus, studied in America and has a style of writing that is made to appeal to an American audience (Flanagan). On the other hand, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, the author of Sin is a Puppy, is a Hausa woman who wrote...

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