Purple Hibiscus

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Kambili’s father, a wealthy factory owner and devout Catholic. Papa uses his vast wealth to support his friends and relatives, many charities, and his church, St. Agnes. He also publishes the newspaper the Standard, the only paper willing to criticize the corrupt government. At home, however, Papa is a strict authoritarian. He has rigid rules and impossibly high standards for his wife and children, and hurts them—for what he sees as their own benefit—whenever he perceives that they have sinned or failed. Papa breaks ties with his father, Papa-Nnukwu, when Papa-Nnukwu refuses to become a Catholic. Papa is a “colonial product” who believes that Western culture is superior to Nigerian culture, and as a result he affects a British accent and avoids speaking Igbo.

Papa (Eugene Achike) Quotes in Purple Hibiscus

The Purple Hibiscus quotes below are all either spoken by Papa (Eugene Achike) or refer to Papa (Eugene Achike). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Algonquin Books edition of Purple Hibiscus published in 2012.
Chapter 1 Quotes

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. Have a love sip, he would say, and Jaja would go first. Then I would hold the cup with both hands and raise it to my lips. One sip. The tea was always too hot, always burned my tongue, and if lunch was something peppery, my raw tongue suffered. But it didn’t matter, because I knew that when the tea burned my tongue, it burned Papa’s love into me.

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Jaja (Chukwuka Achike), Papa (Eugene Achike)
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

In this symbolically loaded passage, we witness Kambili, the heroine of the novel, waiting to sip a cup of her Papa's hot tea with her brother, Jaja. Kambili and Jaja are used to these "love sips," and in fact they look forward to them, as they seem to prove their Papa's love for them. The ritual is so much a part of Kambili's life that she associates her father's love itself with hot tea: they're both (supposedly) good for her, even if they hurt her in the short term.

We have yet to witness the full extent of Papa's violence to his family, but for now, the pain of hot tea foreshadows Papa's abusive behavior, and how closely connected this violence is with his children's persistent love for and worship of him. Perhaps subconsciously, he uses the hot tea ritual to teach his children that he beats them because he loves them.

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Papa was staring pointedly at Jaja. “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…
Mba, there are no words in my mouth,” Jaja replied.
“What?” There was a shadow clouding Papa’s eyes, a shadow that had been in Jaja’s eyes. Fear. It had left Jaja’s eyes and entered Papa’s.
“I have nothing to say,” Jaja said.

Related Characters: Papa (Eugene Achike) (speaker), Kambili Achike, Jaja (Chukwuka Achike)
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Papa--who has just made his family members try his company's new batch of cashew juice--notices that his son, Jaja, is conspicuously silent. Jaja seems to finally be standing up to his abusive, tyrannical father by refusing to parrot the usual praise that is expected of him.

We will see that Kambili and Jaja are known for their silence and obedience, but here Jaja starts to turn that silence into a weapon against Papa--by refusing to even speak to Papa, Jaja robs his father of some of his power.

The ideas of speech and silence here are also heavily influenced by Nigeria's colonial history. Papa's sister Ifeoma (whom we have yet to meet) is the only one who really tells it like it is about Papa, and calls him a "colonial product"--he has internalized the colonialist mindset that whiteness and Westernness always equals superiority. Thus Papa always speaks English, and wants his children to as well--he sees English as naturally superior to Igbo. Papa's slip into Igbo in this scene, then, is a sign of his sudden anger and desperation. He feels his son slipping away from him, and he simultaneously loses some of the tyrannical power of the English language over its Nigerian "subjects."

Chapter 4 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Papa (Eugene Achike), Father Benedict
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, we see how submissive and toadying Papa is around representatives of the colonial order. Father Benedict is a powerful white priest, who was trained in European schools and embodies the European civilization (the Judeo-Christian values on which the Western world was built). Papa is so respectful of Western culture that he treats Father Benedict with exaggerated respect, speaking to him in a gracious "eager-to-please" way that Kambili can see through immediately (although she doesn't see anything wrong with it yet).

Papa is a mess of contradictions: he's politically brave, personally tyrannical, rigidly religious, and impressively philanthropic, and yet he ultimately accepts the dominant political order of the international stage--in other words, he supports the idea of the supremacy of Western civilization over the African world. At a time when other Nigerians were fighting for supremacy and independence from the West, Papa is satisfied to accept whiteness as superior, even in matters as supposedly universal as religion.

Chapter 5 Quotes

“They are always so quiet,” he said, turning to Papa. “So quiet.”
“They are not like those loud children people are raising these days, with no home training and no fear of God,” Papa said, and I was certain that it was pride that stretched Papa’s lips and tightened his eyes.
“Imagine what the Standard would be if we were all quiet.”
It was a joke. Ade Coker was laughing; so was his wife, Yewanda. But Papa did not laugh. Jaja and I turned and went back upstairs, silently.

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Papa (Eugene Achike) (speaker), Ade Coker (speaker), Jaja (Chukwuka Achike), Yewande Coker
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Papa talks with his friend and business partner Ade Coker about child-rearing policies. Ade points out that Papa's children, including Kambili, are always very quiet--to the point where they never make a sound in public. Papa is clearly very proud of his children; he thinks that his violent parenting methods are justified, since by beating his children they'll be calm and well-behaved at all times (not like other children "these days". Ade points out the strange contradiction in Papa's life: he's a political advocate who uses journalism and his voice (the Standard) to criticize the existing political leadership in Nigeria. And yet Papa tolerates no such criticism or debate at home: in short, he's a personal tyrant who challenges political tyrants. Papa's behavior suggests that in his home life, he's more interested in power and control than in doing the right thing: he's willing to use journalism to fight for political freedom, but he refuses to see that beating and silencing his children isn't a good or virtuous thing to do.

“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.”
Jaja and I said nothing. We did not know Aunty Ifeoma or her children very well because she and Papa had quarreled about Papa-Nnukwu. Mama told us. Aunty Ifeoma stopped speaking to Papa after he barred Papa-Nnukwu from coming to his house, and a few years passed before they finally started speaking to each other.

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Papa-Nnukwu (speaker), Jaja (Chukwuka Achike), Papa (Eugene Achike), Mama (Beatrice Achike), Aunty Ifeoma
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote reaffirms the schism within Kambili's family--a split that is based around Papa's pride and rigid adherence to his own brand of religious dogma. Kambili and Jaja are only allowed to visit their grandfather, Papa-Nnukwu, for fifteen minutes each Christmas, and never to accept food or drink from him. Here Papa-Nnukwu's brief update highlights how different Papa is from his sister, Aunty Ifeoma. Papa is rich; Ifeoma is poor and widowed. Papa is dogmatic and strict; Ifeoma is openminded and independent. Papa places religion over family; Ifeoma does the opposite (she is a Christian too, but still loves and takes care of her "pagan" father). While Kambili and Jaja are still very much under their father's thumb at this point, every fact they learn about the outside world, and even about their own family, seems to go against Papa's narrow-minded worldview.

Chapter 7 Quotes

“…But you know Eugene quarrels with the truths that he does not like. Our father is dying, do you hear me? Dying. He is an old man, how much longer does he have, gbo? Yet Eugene will not let him into this house, will not even greet him… Eugene has to stop doing God’s job. God is big enough to do his own job. If God will judge our father for choosing to follow the way of our ancestors, then let God do the judging, not Eugene.”

Related Characters: Aunty Ifeoma (speaker), Papa (Eugene Achike), Mama (Beatrice Achike), Papa-Nnukwu
Page Number: 95-96
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Kamibili overhears her mother talking with Papa's sister, Aunty Ifeoma. Ifeoma is immediately shown to be a strong, confident woman, in contrast with the (relatively) submissive Mama. Ifeoma is the only one willing to tell the truth about Papa--that his ideals and rigid obsession with rules are getting in the way of real familial love and basic human concerns. Papa-Nnukwu, Papa and Ifeoma's father, is dying, but Papa won't visit or help him because Papa-Nnukwu refuses to give up practicing traditional Igbo rituals. (Ifeoma, for her part, is still a Christian, but an openminded one willing to blend Western and Nigerian beliefs.) Here Ifeoma essentially lays it all on the line--Papa (Eugene) is trying to play God, instead of letting God take care of his own business. Ifeoma prefers a more humanistic approach to Christianity, while Papa clearly clings to order, control, and rigid dogma. And in perspective, Papa's refusal to visit his own dying father because of religious differences seems like a very un-Christian thing to do.

Papa wanted Father Benedict to hear our confession. We had not gone in Abba because Papa did not like to make his confession in Igbo, and besides, Papa said that the parish priest in Abba was not spiritual enough. That was the problem with our people, Papa told us, our priorities were wrong; we cared too much about huge church buildings and mighty statues. You would never see white people doing that.

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Papa (Eugene Achike), Father Benedict
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Papa takes his family to Father Benedict's house for confession instead of going to the Nigerian priest at their church. Papa notes that Father Benedict is more "spiritual," while the church in Abba, by contrast, is more concerned with worldly goods than heavenly ones. Outrageously, Papa notes that white people simply wouldn't be so materialistic.

Adichie is being bitterly ironic here, since 1) Western people are plenty materialistic, obviously, and 2) the religious colonization of Nigeria--i.e., the cultural movement that converted Papa to Christianity--was itself motivated by the materialistic desire to steal Nigeria's natural resources. Missionaries and priests came to Nigeria advocating frugality and moderation, and supposedly spreading God's message of love, and yet they cooperated with Western businessmen and politicians who used the opportunity to harvest Nigeria's fruit, oil, gold, etc. and oppress and kill the Nigerian people themselves.

Chapter 8 Quotes

“I hear he’s very involved in the editorial decisions. The Standard is the only paper that dares to tell the truth these days.”
“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.”
“I was reading somewhere that Amnesty World is giving your brother an award,” Father Amadi said. He was nodding slowly, admiringly, and I felt myself go warm all over, with pride, with a desire to be associated with Papa.

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Aunty Ifeoma (speaker), Father Amadi (speaker), Papa (Eugene Achike), Ade Coker
Page Number: 136-137
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Kambili meets Father Amadi, a young, handsome priest. Amadi is impressed to hear that Kambili's father is Eugene Achike, since he knows Eugene to be an important philanthropist and advocate for political freedom: Eugene is regarded as something of a hero among the Nigerian people. Amadi tells Kambili about some of her father's most impressive achievements: as a writer and journalist, he's one of the only figures in the country who dares to criticize the Nigerian leadership, a decision that might eventually lead him into prison (along with his editor, Ade Coker).

The passage is notable because it reminds us of the paradoxes of Papa's behavior. He's an incredibly generous and noble-spirited man, who donates his time and money to fighting for other people. And yet he's also a severe, brutal dictator in his own house: he sincerely believes that children should be beaten and punished harshly when they do anything wrong. While Papa's behavior might be hard for readers to understand, Adichie uses his contradictions to make him a deeply human and fascinating character, both admirable and reprehensible at once.

Chapter 10 Quotes

“Ifeoma, did you call a priest?” Papa asked.
“Is that all you can say, eh, Eugene? Have you nothing else to say, gbo? Our father has died! Has your head turned upside down? Will you not help me to bury our father?”
“I cannot participate in a pagan funeral, but we can discuss with the parish priest and arrange a Catholic funeral.”
Aunty Ifeoma got up and started to shout. Her voice was unsteady. “I will put my dead husband’s grave up for sale, Eugene, before I give our father a Catholic funeral. Do you hear me? I said I will sell Ifediora’s grave first! Was our father a Catholic? I ask you, Eugene, was he a Catholic? Uchu gba gi!” Aunty Ifeoma snapped her fingers at Papa; she was throwing a curse at him. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

Related Characters: Papa (Eugene Achike) (speaker), Aunty Ifeoma (speaker), Papa-Nnukwu, Ifediora
Page Number: 188-189
Explanation and Analysis:

Papa-Nnukwu has died, and Papa has also arrived to pick up his children. In the immediate aftermath of Papa-Nnukwu's death, we're reminded of the discord within his family: as soon as he hears the news, Papa argues with Aunty Ifeoma about how their father should be buried. Papa is so strict in his religious beliefs that he refuses to give his father a "pagan"--i.e., not totally Catholic--funeral, despite the fact that Papa-Nnukwu was a "pagan" for his entire life. Papa seems more upset that his father didn't convert to Catholicism before death than he is with his father's death itself. Ifeoma, by contrast, is willing to honor her father's religion by giving him the proper funeral he would have wanted. Furthermore, Ifeoma seems genuinely upset by her father's death, finally losing the confidence and control she has exhibited throughout the novel, and shouting at and cursing Eugene.

“Kambili, you are precious.” His voice quavered now, like someone speaking at a funeral, choked with emotion. “You should strive for perfection. You should not see sin and walk right into it.” He lowered the kettle into the tub, tilted it toward my feet. He poured the hot water on my feet, slowly, as if he were conducting an experiment and wanted to see what would happen. He was crying now, tears streaming down his face… I watched the water leave the kettle, flowing almost in slow motion in an arc to my feet. The pain of contact was so pure, so scalding, I felt nothing for a second. And then I screamed.
“That is what you do to yourself when you walk into sin. You burn your feet,” he said.

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Papa (Eugene Achike) (speaker)
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chilling, emotional passage, Papa punishes Kambili for not telling him that she was spending time with her "heathen" grandfather, Papa-Nnukwu, and was even sharing a room with him. With tears in his eyes, Papa pours boiling water on Kambili's feet, telling her that she must avoid sin at all costs.

Papa is a tragic character--he seems to be motivated by his sincere love of religion, not just his sadistic need for control. Thus, he tells Kambili that she's precious and hurts her in the same instant: he's so concerned for her soul that he's willing to "condition" her to avoid sin (in the same way that he was conditioned, as we learn). One can recognize Papa's sincerity without agreeing with his methods: he's horribly violent, to the point where he's willing to torture his own family, thus undercutting the very religious ideals and freedom that he's otherwise trying to promote.

Chapter 15 Quotes

“It’s your father. They called me from the factory, they found him lying dead on his desk.” Mama sounded like a recording…
Jaja grabbed the phone. Aunty Ifeoma led me to the bed. I sat down and stared at the bag of rice that leaned against the bedroom wall… I had never considered the possibility that Papa would die, that Papa could die. He was different from Ade Coker, from all the other people they had killed. He had seemed immortal.

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Mama (Beatrice Achike) (speaker), Jaja (Chukwuka Achike), Papa (Eugene Achike), Aunty Ifeoma, Ade Coker
Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Kambili receives word that her father has been found dead at his desk. Kambili is shocked by the news of her father's death: he'd always seemed like an immortal to her--a harsh, tyrannical god, but still a god.

It's not yet clear why Kambili's father has died so suddenly. And yet his death is a crucial turning-point in the novel. Kambili has been moving further and further from her father's worldview throughout the last couple chapters--as if to reflect Kambili's growing independence, Papa dies, so that he can no longer control what Kambili does or thinks. Papa is a complex character, at once contemptible, admirable, and tragic: he's a brutal bully, but he also seems to love his children sincerely, and has undoubtedly done much good in the world outside his own home.

Chapter 16 Quotes

“I should have taken care of Mama. Look how Obiora balances Aunty Ifeoma’s family on his head, and I am older that he is. I should have taken care of Mama.”
“God knows best,” I said. “God works in mysterious ways.” And I thought how Papa would be proud that I had said that, how he would approve of my saying that.
Jaja laughed. It sounded like a series of snorts strung together. “Of course God does. Look what He did to his faithful servant Job, even to His own son. But have you ever wondered why? Why did He have to murder his own son so we would be saved? Why didn’t He just go ahead and save us?”

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Jaja (Chukwuka Achike) (speaker), Papa (Eugene Achike), Mama (Beatrice Achike), Obiora
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Kambili and Jaja are still recovering from their father's sudden death. Kambili notes that with Papa dead, they'll have to take care of their mother more closely--indeed, they both feel guilty for not doing so sooner. Jaja in particular feels guilty that he didn't protect his mother from Papa's beatings--he could have saved her many times before, and he contrasts his own submissiveness to his cousin Obiora's maturity. Kambili offers up a cliched truism--God works in mysterious ways--showing that she continues to subconsciously worship her father and imitate his style of religious fervor. (He's dead, of course, but she still immediately thinks of how he would be proud of her for saying this.)

Jaja, by contrast, has entirely rejected Catholicism along with his father's authority. Instead, Jaja now believes that Christianity is just a system of domination, used to justify people's pain and suffering: there's no reason, for instance, why God had to punish Job (or even Christ himself) so harshly. Perhaps God, just like Papa, is a bully, hurting people for no particular reason. In all, the passage shows the divide between Kambili and Jaja. Both have now been freed from Papa's literal control, but they react to this freedom in different ways.

“I started putting the poison in his tea before I came to Nsukka. Sisi got it for me; her uncle is a powerful witch doctor.”
For a long, silent moment I could think of nothing… Then I thought of taking sips of Papa’s tea, love sips, the scalding liquid that burned his love onto my tongue. “Why did you put it in his tea?” I asked Mama, rising. My voice was loud. I was almost screaming. “Why in his tea?”

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Mama (Beatrice Achike) (speaker), Papa (Eugene Achike), Sisi
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the novel, it's revealed that Kambili's meek, submissive mother was the one who murdered Papa: she put poison in his tea, so that eventually he'd die. Kambili, who is by now deeply conflicted regarding her father--she still can't help loving and worshipping him, but she also recognizes how tyrannical and sadistic he was--is especially distraught by the fact that Papa was killed by his tea. In this moment of revelation, Adichie poignantly reminds us how Papa used to share his hot tea with his children, giving them "love sips"--and this same "love," which was both painful and alluring, is the method by which Papa himself was silently killed.

Mama's murder shows that tyranny and bullying have consequences. We can't entirely forgive Mama for her actions--any more than we can forgive Papa for his--and yet we can understand where she's coming from. After years of being beaten, she couldn't take it anymore. She never spoke out against Papa, but she did rebel against his tyranny in her own desperate way.

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Papa (Eugene Achike) Character Timeline in Purple Hibiscus

The timeline below shows where the character Papa (Eugene Achike) appears in Purple Hibiscus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
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...day: her 17-year-old brother Jaja refused to go to communion on Palm Sunday, and her Papa, Eugene, a devout Catholic, threw his missal (a Catholic liturgical book) in anger, breaking the... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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Kambili explains what happened before this scene. She describes Papa’s fierce devotion to Catholic tradition and the priest at their church, St. Agnes, who is... (full context)
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During this praise Papa’s face remains emotionless, and Kambili remembers his decree that modesty is important, so she also... (full context)
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Papa then flings his missal at the étagère and breaks the small ceramic figurines of ballet... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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...by. Kambili remembers two government agents who came to the house to try and bribe Papa, and even they couldn’t resist picking some hibiscus. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
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...the figurines weren’t important to her. Kambili knows that they were, though—every time she heard Papa beating up Mama in their room, Mama would come downstairs and meticulously polish the figurines... (full context)
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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The family sits down to lunch and Papa says a prayer over the food that lasts twenty minutes. He likes to refer to... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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Jaja is conspicuously silent, and Papa asks him if he has any “words in his mouth.” Papa says this in Igbo,... (full context)
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Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
That evening Kambili stays in bed and doesn’t go to dinner. Papa sits with her a while, and she notices that his breathing is labored and his... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...miscarriages. The people of their home village started to gossip, and even to suggest that Papa should marry another woman who could have more children. But Papa stayed, and Mama is... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
...neatly ironed uniform. Last year he was voted “neatest junior boy” at school, which pleased Papa greatly. Jaja goes to Kambili’s room and the two talk about Mama’s pregnancy. They speak... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
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Jaja goes downstairs and Kambili looks at the written schedule posted on her wall. Papa makes a daily schedule for both Kambili and Jaja, allocating time for every activity, including... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
During family time the next day, Papa and Jaja are playing chess and they are all listening to the radio. A general... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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...the past government, running stories about cabinet members stashing public money in foreign bank accounts. Papa declares that though the politicians are corrupt, Nigeria needs a “renewed democracy” instead of a... (full context)
Chapter 3
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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...This surprises the congregation at first, but then most of them start to sing along. Papa keeps his lips closed and checks his family to make sure their lips are closed... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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Papa always greets people after church, as people flock around him. Then the family goes to... (full context)
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Papa talks to Father Benedict while the rest of the family waits in the living room.... (full context)
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...silent. Mama runs into her room to vomit, and the children hear her. At lunch Papa prays over the food, asking God to forgive “those who had tried to thwart His... (full context)
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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...reading the Bible when she hears thumping sounds from her parents’ room. Kambili imagines that Papa is trying to get the door unstuck, thinking that if she imagines it hard enough... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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...executed for drug trafficking the day before. The children go to their rooms after dinner. Papa comes home and goes into Kambili’s room. His eyes are red from crying. He says... (full context)
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The next Sunday Papa makes the family stay behind after Mass and recite extra prayers “for Mama’s forgiveness.” Father... (full context)
Chapter 4
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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...day she is studying in her room when Yewande Coker, the wife of Ade Coker (Papa’s editor at the Standard) comes to the door sobbing. She says that soldiers have taken... (full context)
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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...her class, even though the teacher has written her a glowing review. Kambili knows that Papa will not be pleased, and will compare her to his own success, which he achieved... (full context)
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Kambili gets home and goes to her room. She hears Papa come home and go into Jaja’s room. Jaja had come first in his class, so... (full context)
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Kambili is terrified to look at Papa as they eat, and she can hardly swallow her food. After dinner Papa tells her... (full context)
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On Monday Papa drives Kambili to school, instead of Kevin taking her as he usually does. They pass... (full context)
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They go into the school grounds and Papa asks Kambili to take him to her class. One of the white nuns sees him... (full context)
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Papa asks Kambili to point out Chinwe Jideze for him. Papa says that Chinwe does not... (full context)
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...knows that she must run to Kevin’s car and get home on time or else Papa will be angry. One time she was late and he slapped her face with both... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...this term. Finally she gets her report card and she is first in the class. Papa praises her and says how proud he is of her, and Kambili cherishes this memory... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...a year, and the rest of the time live in smaller houses in the city. Papa directs the packing of the cars, as they are bringing lots of food to the... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
...three-story houses, including the Achikes’. Everyone is excited to see them arrive, and they call Papa omelora, which means “The One Who Does for the Community.” Papa drives through the gates... (full context)
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...with Jaja and Kambili, but they only answer dutifully “yes” or “no.” Ade comments to Papa that his children are “always so quiet,” and Papa proudly says that they fear God,... (full context)
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...each other in broken English. They decide to go downstairs and start their prayers before Papa calls them. The house has four stories, but the family only uses the bottom two.... (full context)
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Mama and Papa come downstairs and start to pray with the children. Soon a visitor comes, asking for... (full context)
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Papa tells Jaja and Kambili that they will visit Papa-Nnukwu today, but only for fifteen minutes,... (full context)
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Even though Papa-Nnukwu lives nearby, Kevin drives the children so that he can keep an eye on them.... (full context)
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Jaja and Kambili ask about his health, and Papa-Nnukwu says that their Aunty Ifeoma brings him medicine when she can afford it. He says... (full context)
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Papa-Nnukwu eats, and Kambili watches him swallow with difficulty. He offers to buy them soft drinks,... (full context)
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Kambili remembers how Papa used to treat Mama’s father, their Grandfather, in an entirely different way. Grandfather was very... (full context)
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...come home and Kambili asks Jaja if he will confess about offering to drink in Papa-Nnukwu’s house. Jaja says he was just trying to make Papa-Nnukwu feel better. They eat lunch... (full context)
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Kambili and Jaja then hear Papa yelling outside. He is angry that a “worshiper of idols,” an old man named Anikwenwa,... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Aunty Ifeoma arrives the next day. She is as tall as Papa is, and walks and speaks quickly and with purpose. She hugs Kambili and teases her,... (full context)
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...suggests that they go to the traditional Aro festival the next day. Mama says that Papa would never let the children go to a “heathen festival.” Ifeoma suggests just telling him... (full context)
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...stove now, as there is no gas. Mama offers to give her gas cylinders from Papa’s factory, but Ifeoma declines. Kambili watches Aunty Ifeoma, mesmerized by the “fearlessness” of her speech... (full context)
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Papa comes in and Aunty Ifeoma tells him that Jaja and Kambili should spend time with... (full context)
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...house. The oldest is fifteen-year-old Amaka, then her fourteen-year-old brother Obiora, and then seven-year-old Chima. Papa greets them and gives them all money. Amaka immediately starts questioning Kambili about the expensive... (full context)
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...though they have a satellite dish on both houses. Ifeoma’s family then leaves to see Papa-Nnukwu again and then go to Ukpo, where Ifeoma’s late husband was from. Kambili watches them... (full context)
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...get into Ifeoma’s rusty, rattling car and set off. Ifeoma says they are picking up Papa-Nnukwu on the way, and Kambili and Jaja feel a surge of fear and guilt. (full context)
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They stop at Papa-Nnukwu’s house and Ifeoma’s children get out. Jaja and Kambili stay in the car. Ifeoma asks... (full context)
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Papa-Nnukwu gets in the car and jokes with Aunty Ifeoma and her children. They all laugh... (full context)
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After a long pause Papa-Nnukwu repeats his claim that the missionaries misled his son, but then he turns the story... (full context)
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Papa-Nnukwu explains the mmuo as they walk past, and he tells the women to look away... (full context)
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They leave and drop off Papa-Nnukwu. When Aunty Ifeoma drops off Jaja and Kambili, Amaka loudly says she doesn’t want to... (full context)
Chapter 7
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On Christmas Papa takes the family to Mass, but beforehand they see Aunty Ifeoma and her children. Ifeoma... (full context)
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After Mass there is a fundraising event at the hall next to the church. Papa writes a single check and gives it to an usher. When the amount is read... (full context)
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...They don’t admit that they never play it, but only listen to the news on Papa’s radio during “family time.” (full context)
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...is. Sisi comes up to say that the Igwe (local royalty) has arrived to visit Papa, and so the family goes downstairs to greet him. Kambili remembers the last time they... (full context)
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...Ifeoma bows to him, but Mama shakes his hand. Then they go back upstairs, leaving Papa with the Igwe. Amaka and Jaja go off to discuss a book, and Chima and... (full context)
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Aunty Ifeoma goes on, saying that her husband, Ifediora, did not get along with Papa because Ifediora was willing to tell the truth to Papa’s face, and Papa does not... (full context)
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Amaka catches Kambili eavesdropping but doesn’t say anything. She tells her that Papa has come up to have lunch. They sit down and Papa prays for more than... (full context)
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Sisi brings more juice, the kind Papa’s factories make. Amaka tries it and politely suggests that Papa make it less sweet. Kambili... (full context)
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...period has started. She showers and dresses, making sure to cover her hair properly as Papa and Father Benedict like. Kambili’s cramps start to hurt, and she asks Mama for Panadol,... (full context)
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Jaja makes Kambili a bowl of cereal, saying that they will hear Papa before he comes upstairs. Kambili is almost finished eating when Papa enters. He quietly asks... (full context)
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...drive away, the gate man waves at them, and Kambili remembers him telling them that Papa had paid for his children’s school and helped get his wife a job. Papa recites... (full context)
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The family returns to Enugu, and two days later Papa takes the family to confession at Father Benedict’s house. He hadn’t wanted to go to... (full context)
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Papa, Mama, and then Jaja go in. Kambili asks Jaja with her eyes if he remembered... (full context)
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As the family drives home, Papa happily declares that they are all “spotless” now, and that if they died they would... (full context)
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...their things, and Mama suggests that they bring food and gas cylinders from the factory. Papa is suspicious of this suggestion, but then agrees. Jaja and Kambili both nervously admit to... (full context)
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...next morning Kevin puts two gas cylinders in the car, along with lots of food. Papa gives Jaja and Kambili schedules for their time in Nsukka. They include two hours each... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...the policeman some money and he waves them on, saluting mockingly. Kambili knows that if Papa were in the car, Kevin would have let the officers painstakingly search the car and... (full context)
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...brief prayer and then eats, joking that she doesn’t say Mass over every meal like Papa does. They eat, and Ifeoma’s children are excited about having both chicken and soft drinks... (full context)
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The phone rings, and it is Papa. Kambili speaks to him, and he says that the house feels empty without them, and... (full context)
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...as long as they want watching TV. Jaja pulls out his schedule and says that Papa wants them to study in the evenings. Ifeoma looks at the schedule and then starts... (full context)
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...there one day. Kambili realizes that she has never thought about university, and she knows Papa will decide when the time comes. (full context)
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...says that he said Mass there once. Kambili then realizes that the visiting priest whom Papa had disparaged was actually Father Amadi. (full context)
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...a rush of pride, and wants Father Amadi (“this handsome priest”) to associate her with Papa. (full context)
Chapter 9
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...he was ten, Jaja had not come in first in his First Holy Communion class. Papa locked himself in a room with Jaja and when they emerged he took Jaja to... (full context)
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...took the keys. Ade Coker had been arrested again. Mama says she is worried about Papa. After she talks to Mama, Aunty Ifeoma buys a newspaper even though she hardly ever... (full context)
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...rings early the next morning, and Kambili is worried that it is bad news about Papa being killed. Aunty Ifeoma answers, but she doesn’t say who it was. She is irritable... (full context)
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...is upset and he asks her about it. She says that she got news that Papa-Nnukwu is sick. She wants to bring him to Nsukka. Amaka is upset that her mother... (full context)
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That night prayers are more subdued, and Kambili wonders where Papa-Nnukwu will sleep when he arrives. She prays that Papa won’t find out if she has... (full context)
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Aunty Ifeoma returns that afternoon with Papa-Nnukwu. He seems tired and greets Kambili weakly. Amaka and Obiora help Papa-Nnukwu into the flat... (full context)
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...been running his own small clinic since the strike. Later the doctor arrives and examines Papa-Nnukwu. Jaja and Kambili sit on the verandah. Jaja is concerned with Papa-Nnukwu’s health, while Kambili... (full context)
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Kambili is surprised at Jaja’s tone, as if he doesn’t care whether Papa finds out or not. She asks him if he told Aunty Ifeoma about his finger,... (full context)
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...by the same title she uses for her sons. She says that she will take Papa-Nnukwu to get tests done, as at least the labs at the medical center are still... (full context)
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That night Papa-Nnukwu eats, and everyone is relieved. He takes his pills and jokes with the children. Amaka... (full context)
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In Papa-Nnukwu’s story, there was a famine and all the animals were starving except for the dog.... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Papa-Nnukwu wakes up before everyone else, and they have breakfast with him on the verandah as... (full context)
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Father Amadi is delighted to hear that Papa-Nnukwu is improving, and he says he will take Jaja and Obiora to the stadium that... (full context)
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...eyes. Aunty Ifeoma shows Kambili how to prepare the coco-yams for her soup. Ifeoma praises Papa-Nnukwu’s health, saying that the Virgin Mary has helped to heal him. Kambili asks how the... (full context)
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The next morning Aunty Ifeoma wakes Kambili up to watch Papa-Nnukwu perform his “declaration of innocence” rite. He is on the verandah, and Kambili observes him.... (full context)
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Later that morning Amaka washes Papa-Nnukwu’s feet and then continues her painting of him. Aunty Ifeoma asks Kambili to help her... (full context)
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...but his attention lingers on Kambili. Father Amadi discusses his future trip as a missionary. Papa-Nnukwu has been listening, and he tells Father Amadi to not lie to whomever he is... (full context)
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...overwhelmed by his presence. She randomly admits that she sleeps in the same room as Papa-Nnukwu, a heathen. Father Amadi asks why that is a sin, but Kambili can’t answer. Father... (full context)
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When Kambili gets home, Aunty Ifeoma says that Papa called. He had learned from someone in Abba that Papa-Nnukwu was staying at the house.... (full context)
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The next morning Amaka wakes up Kambili and they go to wake Papa-Nnukwu. They shake him but he doesn’t stir. Amaka panics and calls for her mother. Aunty... (full context)
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Two men come with Doctor Nduoma to carry Papa-Nnukwu’s body. They couldn’t get a stretcher because the administrative staff was on strike as well.... (full context)
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The rest of the day everyone is subdued. Amaka laments that she didn’t finish painting Papa-Nnukwu. He had said that they would finish today. Amaka angrily says that he would be... (full context)
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Obiora then says that “Uncle Eugene” has just parked outside the flat. Kambili suddenly freezes. Papa comes inside and Kambili and Jaja greet him mechanically. Aunty Ifeoma says that he should... (full context)
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Aunty Ifeoma tells Papa that Papa-Nnukwu has died. Papa sits down and puts his head in his hands. Then... (full context)
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Papa gathers Kambili and Jaja to him, kissing their heads, and he tells them to get... (full context)
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...Kevin packs up the car. Aunty Ifeoma says that he will see Jaja soon, but Papa doesn’t confirm this. Instead he gives Ifeoma some money to buy Chima a present. Amaka... (full context)
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...She has a black eye and her face is swollen. Jaja delivers the news about Papa-Nnukwu when Papa doesn’t mention it. Papa says that his father has gone to face judgment,... (full context)
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At dinner Papa prays longer than usual, asking God to forgive his children for their “sin of omission”... (full context)
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Everyone is silent for the rest of dinner, and afterward Jaja follows Papa upstairs. Mama looks through fabric samples for the new curtains, which they have changed every... (full context)
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Papa calls for Kambili to come upstairs. She hesitates, but Mama tells her to go. Papa... (full context)
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Papa starts to pour boiling water on Kambili’s feet. Kambili screams, and Papa tells her that... (full context)
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...Kambili thinks about Father Amadi and her family in Nsukka. She takes Amaka’s painting of Papa-Nnukwu out of her bag, but is still afraid to unwrap it. Just as she puts... (full context)
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At lunch that day Papa complains about the cost of pagan funerals. He says that he has given Ifeoma money... (full context)
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...are withdrawing their ambassadors from the country. Men from the “Democratic Coalition” come to visit Papa that night and the next few nights. They all warn him to be careful, and... (full context)
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At dinner the next few days Papa’s hands seem to be shaking. Kambili wants to talk about the many people coming to... (full context)
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...Kambili, sounding friendlier than usual. Kambili thanks her for the painting, and Amaka talks about Papa-Nnukwu’s upcoming funeral. Amaka says that she hopes Kambili and Jaja can come for Easter, so... (full context)
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...over and over on a piece of paper, but rips it up when she hears Papa come home. She keeps thinking more and more about Father Amadi in the following weeks,... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...his family he is blown up. Kambili and Jaja come home that day to find Papa sobbing on the sofa, looking small and broken. Mama and Jaja comfort him. Later Papa... (full context)
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In the following weeks Papa looks more weary and unwell. He prays more, and Father Benedict often visits the house.... (full context)
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One day when Papa is with Father Benedict, Jaja comes into Kambili’s room and asks to see the painting... (full context)
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Papa comes in and sees the painting. Jaja and Kambili both claim that the painting is... (full context)
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...the doctor saying that she has a broken rib and internal bleeding. Later she sees Papa crying and calling her his “precious daughter,” and then Papa and Father Benedict praying and... (full context)
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...Mama that “this cannot go on”—she must escape before things get worse. Mama protests that Papa has never done something like this before. Ifeoma firmly declares that Kambili and Jaja will... (full context)
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Papa picks out a private tutor for Kambili, and she comes to the hospital the following... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Amaka then asks if Papa was the one who hurt Kambili. Amaka says her mother didn’t tell her, but she... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...Amaka takes Kambili’s hand, and they both think about how different this is from how Papa treats Kambili and Jaja. (full context)
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...says that she got back from the hospital today, and then took a taxi here. Papa had broken a small table over her belly. She had been pregnant again, and she... (full context)
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Papa calls that evening. Aunty Ifeoma answers, but doesn’t let Mama come to the phone. After... (full context)
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Mama says that there is nowhere she could go if she left Papa’s house, and that he has so many other willing women to choose from. She then... (full context)
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...Aunty Ifeoma go to bed, Kambili plays cards with Amaka and Obiora. Amaka says that Papa isn’t a bad man, he just can’t handle stress. She is still grateful to him... (full context)
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Papa arrives the next day to pick up Mama, Jaja, and Kambili. He hugs them all,... (full context)
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...bloom. The next day is Palm Sunday, when Jaja refuses to go to communion and Papa throws his missal, breaking Mama’s figurines. (full context)
Chapter 14
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...a tray. The day after Palm Sunday, Jaja pushes his desk against his door so Papa can’t come in. At dinner that night Papa doesn’t mention Jaja, and he eats little... (full context)
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...daughter, who had not said a word since the explosion, spoke that morning. Yewande thanks Papa for sending them to a foreign hospital to get the best care, and she kneels... (full context)
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...to let herself pass by, she realizes that it isn’t very heavy and wonders why Papa couldn’t move it. (full context)
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On Good Friday Papa seems sicker, and he spills his tea because his hands are shaking. He decides to... (full context)
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...up he declares that they are going to Nsukka. Kambili wonders how he will convince Papa to allow this. Jaja knocks on Papa’s door and says that he and Kambili are... (full context)
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Jaja comes in with a hastily packed bag and says that Papa has agreed to let Kevin drive them. Kambili goes into Papa’s room and hugs him... (full context)
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...and puts one on each of her fingers. She says that she is thinking about Papa. She says that he called, but neither she nor Jaja would go to the phone.... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...when they must leave, and Ifeoma says in two weeks. She will have to ask Papa to help buy the plane tickets, so they will go to Enugu with Jaja and... (full context)
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...Ifeoma answers it and screams. Kambili takes the phone, and Mama mechanically tells her that Papa was found dead at his desk at the factory. Jaja then grabs the phone, and... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...where the étagère and the ballet-dancer figurines used to be. Mama is upstairs, packing up Papa’s things. She had told the gate man to turn away the throngs of sympathizers who... (full context)
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...takes care of Aunty Ifeoma. Kambili says “God works in mysterious ways,” and thinks that Papa would have been proud to hear her say that. Jaja laughs at this, and says... (full context)
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...When she hangs up she says that they did an autopsy and found poison in Papa’s body. Then she calmly says that she had been putting poison in his tea since... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...Head of State recently died, and pro-democracy groups have been calling for an investigation of Papa’s death, claiming that the old regime assassinated him. The family’s lawyers recently informed Kambili and... (full context)
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...talk about anything anymore, including the bribes they’ve written on Jaja’s behalf, the distribution of Papa’s will, and the discovery that he had anonymously donated to many hospitals and charities. As... (full context)
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...Father Amadi, which she always carries with her. She and Father Amadi don’t talk about Papa, but he has told her to not always question why some things happen, as sometimes... (full context)
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...can breathe comfortably. She still has nightmares about the old silence of the house when Papa was alive. Kambili still prays for Papa every Sunday, but she has not told Mama... (full context)