Purple Hibiscus Quotes 💬

This well-known and frequently studied novel contains a lot of distinct quotes. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie employs the use of literary devices such as simile, metaphor, juxtaposition, and foreshadowing to tell a tale of freedom from religion and maltreatment.

Purple Hibiscus

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The most important themes in ‘Purple Hibiscus’ have some quotes that support them. The story of Kambili Achike’s transition from a dependent teenager to an independent one is told in Purple Hibiscus.

Purple Hibiscus Quotes


Jaja, have you not shared a drink with us, gbo? Have you no words in your mouth?’ he asked, entirely in Igbo. A bad sign. He hardly spoke Igbo, and although Jaja and I spoke it with Mama at home, he did not like us to speak it in public. We had to sound civilized in public, he told us; we had to speak English. Papa’s sister, Aunty Ifeoma, said once that Papa was too much of a colonial product. She had said this about Papa in a mild, forgiving way as if it were not Papa’s fault…

These sentences are from the first chapter of the ‘Purple Hibiscus‘ novel. Jaja who has had enough of Papa’s unwarranted violence and control begins to stand up for himself. The silence that was learned because of abuse is used by Jaja to punish his oppressor.

“They are always so quiet,” he said, turning to Papa. “So quiet.”

This is said by Ade Coker in chapter five of the book. He says this after he tries to have a conversation with Jaja and Kambili and they are unable to keep up. Papa proudly agrees by stating that they are not like other children who are raised to be loud and irreligious. Ade Coker proceeds to ask what would happen to the Standard newspaper if everyone was quiet. This question is very important as truly, one has to be able to speak up in times of oppression.

I did not say anything else until lunch was over, but I listened to every word spoken, followed every cackle of laughter and line of banter. Mostly, my cousins did the talking and Aunty Ifeoma sat back and watched them, eating slowly.

The main characters Kambili and her brother who are used to a quiet breakfast, lunch, or dinner are quite surprised that their cousins can freely converse at the table and everywhere else. Kambili is distractedly picking her food when a question is tossed at her about the food. She replies that she likes the meal and when Amaka teases her about the food not being good enough for her, she doesn’t reply and just watches the other children talk.

Father Amadi led the first decade, and at the end, he started an Igbo praise song. While they sang, I opened my eyes and stared at the wall… I pressed my lips together, biting my lower lip, so my mouth would not join in the singing on its own, so my mouth would not betray me.

The indoctrination that is imposed by Papa follows Kambili and Jaja to Nsukka. Papa believes it is ungodly to sing Christian songs that have been translated to Igbo. Although Kambili is moved to join Aunty Ifeoma’s family in singing, she holds herself back. The strong effects of leadership are portrayed in these sentences.


I waited for him to ask Jaja and me to take a sip, as he always did. A love sip, he called it, because you shared the little things you loved with the people you loved.

Papa is an abusive patriarch who still shows some acts of affection to his family. The sip of hot tea usually burns Kambili’s tongue but she takes it as love burning into her. The acceptance of this family ritual is possibly one of the reasons that make her and other members of the family accept Papa’s abuse as care for them.

I lay in bed after Mama left and let my mind rake through the past, through the years when Jaja and Mama and I spoke more with our spirits than with our lips. Until Nsukka.

The silence that Kambili, Jaja, and Mama are accustomed to is addressed in this quote. Before their visit to Nsukka, Kambili and Jaja are under the absolute control of Papa. Even after being molested, they don’t address it. This changes when they leave their house in Enugu, however.

“Ifeoma could not afford it.” Papa-Nnukwu shook his head. “Since the father of her children died, she has seen hard times. But she will bring them this year. You will see them. It is not right that you don’t know them well, your cousins. It is not right.”

The relationship between Papa and Aunty Ifeoma’s families is proven to be rocky. Intentionally, Papa prevents his family from relating with people he considers to be ‘heathen’ or not Catholic enough. He is extremely judgemental and close-minded.

“Yes,” Aunty Ifeoma said. “And he has a brilliant editor, Ade Coker, although I wonder how much longer before they lock him up for good. Even Eugene’s money will not buy everything.”

Although Aunt Ifeoma and Papa do not have the best relationship, she still cares for and supports him and his business. In times of his company’s distress, she buys a copy of the newspaper to be more enlightened about the issue. Kambili is also proud of Papa and his achievements.

Amaka and Papa-Nnukwu spoke sometimes, their voices low, twining together. They understood each other, using the sparest words. Watching them, I felt a longing for something I knew I would never have.

While Kambili is prevented from having a solid relationship with her grandfather, Amaka is lucky. She is close to him and in fact, paints an unfinished portrait of him.


Papa changed his accent when he spoke, sounding British, just as he did when he spoke to Father Benedict. He was gracious, in the eager-to-please way that he always assumed with the religious, especially with the white religious.

The authoritarian Papa who conveniently abandons his father and culture is quick to pander to the whims of European religion and civilization.

Aunty Ifeoma was silent as she ladled the thick cocoyam paste into the soup pot; then she looked up and said Papa-Nnukwu was not a heathen but a traditionalist.

Unlike Papa, Aunty Ifeoma is more receptive to a belief that doesn’t align with hers. She is open-minded and does not withhold kindness because of differences in religious practices.

“When the missionaries first came, they didn’t think Igbo names were good enough. They insisted that people take English names to be baptized. Shouldn’t we be moving ahead?”

Amaka is a fifteen-year-old with a mind of her own. She does not agree with the supremacy of the European religion. She is a very vocal activist and refuses to take an English name as instructed by the Church.


How are Purple Hibiscus and Things Fall Apart Similar?

In both books, complicated father-son relationships are portrayed. The impact of Western invasion is also emphasized in these books. Okonkwo and Papa are highly patriarchal heads who are extremely abusive and toxic. While Okonkwo boldly displays his violence, however, Papa secretly practices his own.

Is Purple Hibiscus autobiographical?

The novel speaks on certain aspects of Chimamanda’s life that are real, but it is not autobiographical.

What is the most famous quote from Purple Hibiscus?

The most famous quote of the novel is ‘Things started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja did not go to communion…’
This quote doesn’t just talk about the first rebellion of Jaja, it gives credit to one of Chimamanda Adichie’s literary mentors, Chinua Achebe.

Fave Ehimwenma
About Fave Ehimwenma
Fave Ehimwenma is a proficient writer, researcher, and content creator whose love for art and books drives her passion for literature reviews.
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