Purple Hibiscus

Mama (Beatrice Achike) Character Analysis

Kambili’s mother, a quiet, submissive woman who takes care of her children but does not speak out against Papa’s violence. After Kambili’s birth she suffers several miscarriages because of Papa’s beatings. Mama is friends with Aunty Ifeoma, but does not act on Ifeoma’s “university talk” of liberation and equality. She feels she cannot leave such a wealthy and socially important and even benevolent man. But as his abuse worsens and he causes yet another miscarriage for Mama, she does slowly poison Papa. After Papa’s death and Jaja’s arrest, Mama rarely speaks and seems constantly distracted.

Mama (Beatrice Achike) Quotes in Purple Hibiscus

The Purple Hibiscus quotes below are all either spoken by Mama (Beatrice Achike) or refer to Mama (Beatrice 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 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. Nsukka started it all; Aunty Ifeoma’s little garden next to the verandah of her flat in Nsukka began to lift the silence. Jaja’s defiance seemed to me now like Aunty Ifeoma’s experimental purple hibiscus: rare, fragrant with the undertones of freedom, a different kind of freedom from the one the crowds waving green leaves chanted at Government Square after the coup. A freedom to be, to do.

Related Characters: Kambili Achike (speaker), Jaja (Chukwuka Achike), Mama (Beatrice Achike), Aunty Ifeoma
Related Symbols: The Purple Hibiscus
Page Number: 15-16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

“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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo conseq

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolLoreLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cill

“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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupi

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Mama (Beatrice Achike) Character Timeline in Purple Hibiscus

The timeline below shows where the character Mama (Beatrice Achike) appears in Purple Hibiscus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Family Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
...missal at the étagère and breaks the small ceramic figurines of ballet dancers. Kambili’s mother, Beatrice (Mama), comes in and immediately starts picking up the pieces of the figurines. Kambili feels... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
Jaja helps Mama pick up the pieces of the figurines, and Kambili feels like she is in a... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
None of the usual Sunday routines take place: Mama doesn’t plait Kambili’s hair in the kitchen and Jaja doesn’t go upstairs to his room... (full context)
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
...of cashew juice (which Papa will sell from his factories) and they each try it. Mama and Kambili both compliment it nervously. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
...she notices that his breathing is labored and his face has a rash on it. Mama brings her some soup, but after eating it Kambili throws it up. She asks about... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
Mama leaves, and Kambili remembers what started all this change. There were many years when she... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
...now jumps months back in time to describe the events leading up to Palm Sunday. Mama brings Kambili’s school uniforms inside before it rains. Jaja and Kambili wash their own uniforms... (full context)
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Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
Mama tells Kambili that she is pregnant, and the baby is due in October. Mama is... (full context)
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
Mama and Sisi are cooking to host the members of the Our Lady of the Miraculous... (full context)
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Silence and Speech Theme Icon
...school, which pleased Papa greatly. Jaja goes to Kambili’s room and the two talk about Mama’s pregnancy. They speak in a kind of special language using mostly their eyes. Jaja declares... (full context)
Chapter 3
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
...changes inside the Achike household, however. Jaja and Kambili stick to their strict schedules, while Mama’s pregnancy progresses. At Mass on Pentecost Sunday there is a visiting priest at St. Agnes.... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
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...and that he will bring trouble to the church. They arrive at Father Benedict’s, but Mama says she feels sick and wants to stay in the car. Papa stares at her... (full context)
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...while the rest of the family waits in the living room. Father Benedict asks about Mama’s health, but she blames her sickly appearance on allergies. After the visit Papa grits his... (full context)
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
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Mama, Jaja, and Kambili then go upstairs to change. The children are scheduled to quietly reflect... (full context)
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Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
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...enough it will be true. After 20 seconds Papa comes out of the room, carrying Mama slung over his shoulder. He carries her downstairs and takes her outside. There is blood... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Mama doesn’t come home that night, and Jaja and Kambili have dinner alone. They don’t talk... (full context)
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Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
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Mama comes home the next day, her eyes looking vacant. She says “there was an accident”... (full context)
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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...next Sunday Papa makes the family stay behind after Mass and recite extra prayers “for Mama’s forgiveness.” Father Benedict sprinkles holy water over them as they recite, trying hard to get... (full context)
Chapter 4
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
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Violence Theme Icon
...difficult for Kambili to read, even though her exams are approaching, as she keeps seeing Mama’s blood in the letters. One day she is studying in her room when Yewande Coker,... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
There is a two-week break from school, and on the last weekend Mama takes Jaja and Kambili to get new sandals and bags. Kambili notices the crowds of... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Kambili continues to see Mama’s blood when she tries to read, but she studies constantly and memorizes her teacher’s words,... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
Mama and Papa come downstairs and start to pray with the children. Soon a visitor comes,... (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 light-skinned and always spoke... (full context)
Chapter 6
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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Silence and Speech Theme Icon
...and quiet. Ifeoma says that her children are visiting Papa-Nnukwu and listening to his stories. Mama comes in and brings Ifeoma some food and drinks. Ifeoma calls Mama nwunye m, which... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
Aunty Ifeoma and Mama talk, and Ifeoma suggests that they go to the traditional Aro festival the next day.... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
Silence and Speech Theme Icon
...Ifeoma says she is cooking with a kerosene stove now, as there is no gas. Mama offers to give her gas cylinders from Papa’s factory, but Ifeoma declines. Kambili watches Aunty... (full context)
Chapter 7
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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...to greet him. Kambili remembers the last time they had visited the Igwe’s palace, and Mama had greeted him in the traditional way for women, by bowing low to him. Later... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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The family goes downstairs and greets the Igwe. Aunty Ifeoma bows to him, but Mama shakes his hand. Then they go back upstairs, leaving Papa with the Igwe. Amaka and... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
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...properly as Papa and Father Benedict like. Kambili’s cramps start to hurt, and she asks Mama for Panadol, a painkiller. She must eat food with the pill, but it is only... (full context)
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...Kambili is almost finished eating when Papa enters. He quietly asks what is going on. Mama and Jaja both try to take the blame, and Papa asks if the devil has... (full context)
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Papa, Mama, and then Jaja go in. Kambili asks Jaja with her eyes if he remembered his... (full context)
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Jaja and Kambili pack their things, and Mama suggests that they bring food and gas cylinders from the factory. Papa is suspicious of... (full context)
Chapter 8
Family Theme Icon
...is delighted to see the food and gas cylinders, which she knows came because of Mama. She does a little dance and hugs Kambili again, and Kambili notices that she smells... (full context)
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Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
...he reminds them to study and pray. That evening at dinner Kambili imagines Papa and Mama eating alone, and the full crates of soft drinks always in their house. Aunty Ifeoma... (full context)
Chapter 9
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The phone rings. Kambili answers, and it is Mama calling to say that soldiers found the offices of the Standard and destroyed the presses... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Mama answers the door when they arrive. She has a black eye and her face is... (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 year. Papa... (full context)
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
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Papa calls for Kambili to come upstairs. She hesitates, but Mama tells her to go. Papa is in the bathroom, and he tells Kambili to climb... (full context)
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
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...When the water is gone Papa makes to lift Kamili out of the tub, but Mama comes into the bathroom, also crying. She puts wet salt on Kambili’s feet and then... (full context)
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After Mama leaves, Kambili thinks about Father Amadi and her family in Nsukka. She takes Amaka’s painting... (full context)
Chapter 11
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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...come home that day to find Papa sobbing on the sofa, looking small and broken. Mama and Jaja comfort him. Later Papa funds Ade’s funeral, buys a new house for Ade’s... (full context)
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Kambili wakes up in the hospital. Mama is there, crying gratefully that Kambili is awake. Kambili’s whole body is in terrible pain.... (full context)
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...Aunty Ifeoma’s voice, saying that her children could not come because of school. Ifeoma tells Mama that “this cannot go on”—she must escape before things get worse. Mama protests that Papa... (full context)
Freedom vs. Tyranny Theme Icon
...says that Kambili should stop running off after school when she comes back. That night Mama tells Kambili that she will be going to Nsukka with Jaja when she is discharged... (full context)
Chapter 13
Family Theme Icon
...Amaka. A car drives up and they are all surprised to see that it is Mama, wearing her slippers and looking unkempt. Aunty Ifeoma helps her into the house. (full context)
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Mama sits down and looks around distractedly. She says that she got back from the hospital... (full context)
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Papa calls that evening. Aunty Ifeoma answers, but doesn’t let Mama come to the phone. After she hangs up Mama gets the phone from a bedroom... (full context)
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Mama says that there is nowhere she could go if she left Papa’s house, and that... (full context)
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After Mama and Aunty Ifeoma go to bed, Kambili plays cards with Amaka and Obiora. Amaka says... (full context)
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Papa arrives the next day to pick up Mama, Jaja, and Kambili. He hugs them all, and Kambili notices that he has a strange... (full context)
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...Palm Sunday, when Jaja refuses to go to communion and Papa throws his missal, breaking Mama’s figurines. (full context)
Chapter 14
Family Theme Icon
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...house. Even after the storm is over, the “old silence” of the house seems broken. Mama doesn’t bother to lower her voice when she tells Sisi to sweep up the rest... (full context)
Chapter 15
Religion and Belief Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
...when the phone rings. Aunty 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... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Silence and Speech Theme Icon
...room, staring at the spot 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... (full context)
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Jaja says that he should have taken better care of Mama, like Obiora takes care of Aunty Ifeoma. Kambili says “God works in mysterious ways,” and... (full context)
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The phone rings and Mama answers it. When she hangs up she says that they did an autopsy and found... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...years later, and Kambili is familiar with the route to the prison, where she and Mama go to visit Jaja. They have a new driver now named Celestine, and he is... (full context)
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...death, claiming that the old regime assassinated him. The family’s lawyers recently informed Kambili and Mama that Jaja will be released next week. Kambili and Mama don’t talk about it, but... (full context)
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Kambili and Mama don’t talk about anything anymore, including the bribes they’ve written on Jaja’s behalf, the distribution... (full context)
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...voices to Jaja. Sometimes he plays them when Kambili visits. Ifeoma writes to Kambili and Mama, and talks about her two jobs at a community college and a pharmacy. She writes... (full context)
Colonialism and Nigerian Politics Theme Icon
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...guard takes the bribe of money they’ve hidden in the bag of food. He leads Mama and Kambili inside and gives them an hour to visit. They sit and wait for... (full context)
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Mama sets up a meal for Jaja, and then he comes into the room. They don’t... (full context)
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...Papa was alive. Kambili still prays for Papa every Sunday, but she has not told Mama or Jaja this. She still dreams about Papa, and wants to see him in her... (full context)
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Jaja points out that Mama’s scarf has come undone. Kambili is amazed, as usually he doesn’t notice anything about them.... (full context)