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Cultural Collision In Purple Hibiscus And Things Fall Apart Essay

Cultural collision is the colliding of two or more very distinct cultures. It causes tension between the two groups; exhibited in Purple Hibiscus and Things Fall Apart. Kambili is the main character in Purple Hibiscus, she demonstrates cultural collision between her and her father. The cultural collision is not strictly between her father and her, it is with Papa and his side of the family preventing Kambili to get to know them. Papa does not like his side of the family because Papa-Nnukwu has an Ibo religion while Papa is Christian, which is a sign of cultural collision.

In the second novel, Okonkwo is the main character that struggles the most with cultural collision. Okonkwo has cultural collision between the missionaries and the Ibo people. He instantly hates the white men and their religion because they want land, and make fun of the Ibo’s beliefs. Because of his hatred towards the white men, ultimately adding to the tension, results in Okonkwo’s demise. Things Fall Apart and Purple Hibiscus exhibit cultural collision because the characters both evolve due to the tensions of the cultures demonstrated throughout the novels changing their character identity.

Kambili and Okonkwo’s character identity evolves appreciable over the course of the book. At the beginning of the book Okonkwo’s character identity was a man of many title, he would of done anything to prove that he was not weak. But as signs of cultural collision begun showing he began to alter his character. The first sign of cultural collision was with Ikemefuna. When Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna he collides with the oracle and his conscious. Although he did not want Ikemefuna to die he had to give him up because of the gods.

Because of the oracle he gives up Ikemefuna and was told not to go, but Okonkwo was feared of being “thought weak,” (Achebe 61) in his culture so he killed Ikemefuna himself. Okonkwo’s character went from being supremely strong to being his true self; a man that does not want to face the consequences. He was “one of the greatest men in Umuofia” (Achebe 208) at the beginning of the novel, but over time cultural collision affected his identity. He committed actions to the opposing culture that he did not want to withstand. Whereas in Purple Hibiscus Kambili is the opposite of Okonkwo.

Kambili’s character evolves because of the cultural collision between her father and the rest of his family. At the beginning of the book Kambili thinks her father is a good man that would do anything for his family. Over the course of the book Kambili was proud of her father but she soon learned that he was the opposite of what she thought when she was allowed to visit her aunt. Aunt Ifeoma showed Kambili how family was supposed to act towards each other.

During the trip Kambili had cultural collisions with her and her cousins because her cousins asked, “are you sure they’re not abnormal, Mom? (Adichie 141) Kambili and her cousins have a cultural collision because they are two different religions; Kambili was not allowed to get to know them due to her father. Papa also caused cultural tension between Kambili and Papa-Nnukwu. Papa did not want his children to go see Papa-Nnukwu. “I don’t want to send you to the home of a heathen, but God will protect you,” (Adichie 62) Papa’s words demonstrate cultural collision between him and his father. Papa feels this way because Papa-Nnukwu is a different religion.

Papa also puts cultural tension in Kambili’s life when he beats her for having a painting of Papa-Nnukwu after his death. Small things affects Kambili’s life drastically; most of the small things are cultural collision. Kambili first appears as naive, hopeful, and fearless. By the end her true cultural identity is stronger, hopeful, but a bit more cautious. Okonkwo and Kambili face a major cultural conflict each that ultimately affects their character identity.

Okonkwo’s cultural conflict that affects him is his downfall of killing the clansman hen having to go to the motherland. After that he lost all of his titles and pride. The conflict began when the white men came to his motherland village and conveyed Nwoye to switch religions and the white men burned a village. Nwoye felt “greatly puzzled,” (Achebe 147) by the new religion, causing him to switch. Kambili’s conflict began when Kambili wanted to get to know her grandpa but was not allowed due to his religion. Kambili finally gets to spend more time with that side of the family but faces conflict when she is called abnormal due to her different culture.

But aside from Kambili and her cousins, abused by her dad because she has a painting of a heathen, Papa-Nnukwu, after he died. “He started to kick me. ” (Adichie 210) Papa-Nnukwu’s religion kept Papa from wanting to take place in his funeral making it harder on Kambili since she had gotten closer to Papa-Nnukwu. “I cannot participate in a pagan funeral, but we can discuss with the parish priest and arrange a Catholic funeral. ” (Adichie 188) Papa is stating that he will not attend to help in burying his father because he is not Catholic, which causes great cultural tension between Aunt Ifeoma and Papa.

The two conflicts each main character faced evolved their cultural identity. The two main characters from, Things Fall Apart and Purple Hibiscus evolved with the sense of themselves due to the cultural conflict they were put through. Okonkwo was very strong and independent at the start of the book. But by the end of the book he was weak and did not want to face the consequences of his actions, his “body was dangling… ” (Achebe 207) Okonkwo was known for being strong but he was not strong after the motherland, killing Ikemefuna, and losing his titles and son.

Those actions were all from cultural differences and tension between them. The outcome of Okonkwo’s sense of self was weakness, everything he tried not to be, finally showed at the end of the books. But in Purple Hibiscus Kambili did not only grow from the cultural conflict she face but she also had a coming of age story. Kambili began as a naive, hopeful, and weak character at the beginning of the book. But over the course of the book her conflicts with her father caused her sense of identity to change.

The last conflict that was presented in the book, that made Kambili realize her true sense of self, was when Papa beat her for the painting. Kambili was finished with the abuse so she lied to the nurse to get away from him. The actions Kambili’s father committed towards her caused her to become strong and fearless. The conflict also put caution in her life and to finally realize the reality of the situation with her father. Kambili is stronger by the end of the book because she is the one forced to hold her family together, “We went about crying, but not sharing, the same new peace, the same home, concrete for the first time. (Adichie 297)

While Kambili and Mama shared those qualities, Mama became weak while Kambili was strong, Kambili was the reason the family was still together. The sense of character’s identity changed over the course of the book due to cultural conflicts presented. Kambili and Okonkwo evolved over the course of the novels due to cultural conflicts. Okonkwo changed from a strong man with everything he wanted to a man of nothing and stubbornness, ultimately resulting in his demise. Okonkwo faced the conflicts of the white men, the conflict of his death and change of character.

Whereas Kambili is the opposite she went from a weak, hopeful, naive girl to the girl that held together her family after her father was murdered. Kambili still had hope in her, she was stronger, and in the end maybe happier that the controlling force was out of her life. The conflict was of her father controlling her life not letting her know her family because they were an opposing culture. The two novels, Purple Hibiscus and Things Fall Apart are examples of the positive and negative effects of cultural collision. Cultural collision ultimately makes you have a stronger sense of identity or a weaker sense.

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