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The Nefarious Nature Of Single Narratives

1308 words - 6 pages

The Nefarious Nature of Single Narratives
The presentation of a single point of view results in assumptions and prejudices that do not account for the multifaceted nature of people and society. Considering Eugene and Father Benedict’s religious practices, oppression and intolerance of all things unchristian appears to be cemented into Nigerian Catholicism. However, this concept of a unilateral Catholic ideology is broken by Father Amandi, with whose tender acceptance of Igbo culture and loving nature, shines a light on the diversity of religious sentiments in Nigeria. Furthermore, Kambili’s father defies the usual mold of an antagonist. Eugene strives to show the truth through his newspaper and constantly helps those in need. Conversely, he beats his wife and children to the brink of death on multiple occasions, though he believes he is doing the right thing. Thus, Eugene has the oxymoronical characterization of being both kind, generous, devout, and caring while reciprocally abusing those closest to him and falsely justifying it as God’s will. In addition, Kambili’s involvement with various socio economic classes and personalities, from her vicious upper class father to her poor but liberal aunt, portrays a people and society that defies a single categorization. Presenting a multifaceted image of Nigerian culture and beliefs through the complex narrative of the Purple Hibiscus, Ngozi defies prejudices and assumptions that result from a simplistic and one sided portrayal.
Multiple forms of religion used as forces of destruction and growth in Purple Hibiscus reveal the complexity of religion in Nigeria. Defying categorical assumptions, Father Amandi and Eugene provide contrasting interpretations of Catholicism and Igbo culture. Eugene believes in a harsh and unforgiving God who “expects perfection”(47). This leads him to physically and psychologically punishing his family for supposed moral transgressions and failures. Furthermore, Kambili’s father retains a self hatred towards his own Igbo culture to the extent that he finds his own native tongue to be dirty and does “not like to make his confession in Igbo” (104). Taught by missionaries that his own language and culture are religiously and intellectually inferior, Eugene suppresses his roots to the extent of changing his accent in the presence of caucasians. Eugene’s cultural self hatred is so great that he even takes it out on his family. However, this particular Nigerian Catholic view is not unanimous. Father Amandi retains far different views of God and the Church despite the Catholicism he shares with Eugene. While Eugene goes so far as to refer to his own father as “a heathen,” Amandi’s liberal views include acceptance of the pantheistic Papa-Nnukwu and appreciation of his own Igbo culture and music (62). These differing examples of Catholicism in Nigerian culture ensure Ngozi’s mission “that there is never a single story” of Nigerian religious views ( Furthermore, religion is...

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