As students read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus, which tells the story of a young Nigerian girl and her family, they investigate the topics of identity, oppression, love and tradition.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus tells the story of a young Nigerian girl, Kambili, and her family. Throughout the novel, the author wrestles with themes of identity, freedom, oppression, love, and tradition as she explores the tensions within Kambili’s family and within the country of Nigeria itself. As students read this text, they will investigate these thematic topics while also learning about the complex history and political climate in Nigeria. As their first experience of the year with world literature, students will explore both the universal human truths and the culture-specific aspects of the novel. Adichie’s “Danger of a Single Story” talk will serve as a powerful backdrop to facilitating students’ abilities to draw thematic comparisons between the novel and the American literature they have read this year: The Bluest Eye and Of Mice and Men. Additionally, the teacher will lead students to expand their knowledge of both the country of Nigeria and the continent of Africa through visual, literary, and informational materials.
The major writing focus of the literature lessons will be literary analysis, specifically around writing essays in which students compare portions of the novel with poetry. Poetry will be woven throughout the unit to build students’ analytical skills, and it will appear on the end-of-unit assessment. The mid- and end-of-unit assessments will both require students to compare Purple Hibiscus and a novel poem, writing about how the authors convey similar themes. Note: Several poems, as well as time to work in analysis of the poems and review poetry terms, are built into the unit plan. If students appear to need more extensive review, the teacher should plan to build in extra poems as Do Nows and/or homework throughout the unit.
At Match, students have a Composition class 4 days per week in addition to English class. Below, we have included Supplementary Composition Projects to reflect the material covered in our Composition course. For teachers who are interested in including these Composition Projects but do not have a separate Composition course, we have included a “Suggested Placement” to note where these projects would most logically fit into the English unit. While the Composition Projects may occasionally include content unrelated to English 9, most have both a skill and content connection to the work students are doing in their English 9 class.
In these supplemental Composition Projects, students will sharpen their rhetorical analysis skills by reading a series of persuasive speeches and letters on equality and justice in society. These accompanying composition projects build upon each other to prepare students for the culminating project of the unit: an original argument essay about the role of equality and justice in society. To prepare to write their own argument essay, students will first spend time analyzing techniques used by several authors and speech makers. The rhetorical analysis students will do includes elements of both reading and writing, with an overarching focus on developing the bank of rhetorical techniques students are able to recognize, analyze, and ultimately use themselves.
Book: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Algonquin Books, 2012)
Audiobook: Purple Hibiscus
Video: “TED Talk: The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Poem: “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands” by Rudyard Kipling
Photo: Images of Nigeria by Flickr.com
Article: “Life in Lagos: The Rising Stars of Nollywood Films” by Robin Hammond (National Geographic)
Poem: “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley
Poem: “Hanging Fire” by Audre Lorde
Poem: “Fog” by Carl Sandberg
Poem: “What My Lips Have Kissed, and Where, and Why” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Poem: “I Am Offering this Poem” by Jimmy Santiago Baca
The focus of the writing in this unit is for students to develop the ability to write a theme statement that can apply to more than one text.
Students will work on their rhetorical analysis and narrative writing in these projects. For teachers and students unfamiliar with rhetorical analysis writing, it is a type of writing in which we explain the techniques a speaker/writer uses to persuade an audience in a particular context.
Unit: metaphor, simile, symbolism, foil, theme, thematic topic, extended metaphor, microcosm, allusion, motif, structure, mood, tone, diction
Poetry only: structure, verse, stanza, rhyme scheme, alliteration, speaker
meti- (23), sub- (126), equi- (224), micro- (224), vacu- (302)
solemnity (4), modesty (5), contorted (7), civilized (13), defiance (16), oppression (theme), meticulously (23), coup (and The Wealth of Africa) (24), thwart (32), desolate (38), integrity (42), despair (45), assume – as in take on (46), migration (53), tinged (58), discordant (61), decree (62), covert (68), heathen (74), perpetual (78), pagan (81), intercede (83), placid (92), apparition (99), mandated (100), extorted (104), pilgrimage (107), materialize (111), restore (112), uncivilized (116), indigenous (118), “culturally conscious” (118), rueful (121), submerge (126), punctuate (126), sacrilegious (135), disorderly (136), exile (144), taut (148), abomination (159), twining (165), interchange (167), plaintive (168), elusive (176), sparse (183), grievous (184), excruciating (194), waft (197), activism (199), charismatic (210), exquisite (211), exert (217), nostalgic (221), equivalent (224), microcosm (224), reluctant (228), ingrained (230), tyranny (244), descend (257), disheveled (262), radiant (267), heretical (279), constrict (280), rebuke (286), unkempt (295), regime (297), stringent (299), pessimistic (300), vacuously (302)
colonialism (general), missal (3), etagere (3), oblate (3), compound (9 and throughout), harmattan (4 and throughout)
Knowledge of colonialism and the concept of a coup would help students to more deeply access this text. Conversely, the text itself will help to deepen students’ understanding of these abstract topics.
This assessment accompanies Unit 4 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
“The Danger of a Single Story”
“The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands”
Explain the central idea of Adichie’s talk and identify the techniques she uses to build her argument.
“Life in Lagos”
“Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense”
Images of Nigeria
Draw conclusions about Nigeria after reviewing "multiple stories" from the complex country that is the setting of the novel.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 1 – 7
Purple Hibiscus — optional
Infer the major themes and symbols of the novel through pre-reading the cover and first sentence of the novel.
Explain the complex characterization of Papa in these initial pages of the novel.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 8 – 16
Identify one of the major conflicts of the novel and be able to explain how the author uses symbols and characters to develop the conflict.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 19 – 26
Identify the structure of the novel and explain its significance. Students will also be able to identify the power dynamics amongst the major characters.
“What My Lips...”
“I Am Offering this Poem”
Explain how the poets use figurative language and structure to develop theme.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 27 – 36
Explore the theme of love and how the author conveys this theme in chapters two and three.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 37 – 42
Identify examples of the themes of freedom and silence in this section of text. Students will also be able to explain the irony in the difference between Papa’s personal and political actions.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 53 – 60
Infer Papa’s values based on his relationship and interactions with Papa Nnukwu.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 1 – 70
Explain how and why the author uses the character of Kambili’s father as a foil to Kambili.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 71 – 76
Analyze the interactions between Mama and Aunty Ifeoma in order to make inferences about each of these major characters.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 81 – 88
Analyze the motivations that drive the actions of the major characters in the novel.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 89 – 99
Identify how Adichie develops the theme of tradition by examining the Achike family’s visit to the village.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 100 – 109
Determine, through discussion, how Adichie develops the Achike family as a microcosm for the larger Nigerian society.
Write in response to a literary analysis prompt on theme using the information gathered during the “microcosm” activity from the day before.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 110 – 115
Compare Nsukka and Aunty Ifeoma’s home with Enugu and the Achike family’s home, drawing inferences about the author’s purpose in making the two so different.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 126 – 133
Analyze how the author develops the theme of freedom in this chapter.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 140 – 147
Explain how Adichie uses Amaka as a foil to reveal Kambili’s character.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 155 – 161
Analyze Kambili’s internal conflict and how it is developing over the course of the novel.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 166 – 170
Analyze the effect Ifeoma and her children have on Jaja and Kambili, and the way Ifeoma acts as a contrast to Eugene in their lives.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 175 – 181
Contrast Kambili’s feelings for her father with her feelings for Father Amadi and use them to draw conclusions about the theme of love.
Analyze how Kambili changes during her time at Aunty Ifeoma’s. Students will also be able to analyze the poem “Hanging Fire.”
Write an essay in which they compare how the poet and the author each develop the theme of identity.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 191 – 197
Analyze the significance of Kambili and Jaja’s reactions to Papa’s violence.
Identify the theme of a poem and compare it to this excerpt of the novel.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 206 – 211
Explain how the author employs literary devices to build the conflict and tension for the reader.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 217 – 225
Analyze the symbol of aku and explain how Adichie uses the ritual with the aku to express the theme/central idea of these pages.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 237 – 246
Explain how Adichie continues to develop the theme of freedom and coming of age in this excerpt.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 257 – 264
Analyze the structure of the novel and explain how the structure develops the conflict and themes.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 273 – 279
Independently craft theme statements based on thematic topics in Purple Hibiscus.
Purple Hibiscus pp. 288 – 291
Analyze the actions and interactions between Mama, Jaja, and Kambili after Papa’s death.
Analyze the conclusion of the novel.
Explain how the author would answer the major thematic questions of the unit.