Kambili is obsessed over her relationship with Father Amadi. She falls in love with him. Although the Father also loves her, he could not consummate his love due to his commitments to Church and community. Her love is expressed overtly and covertly on a few occasions. As Zambilii says wittily “People have crushes on priests all the time, you know. It’s exciting to have to deal with God as a rival.” (Adichie, p.89) However, Kambili’s obsessive love for Father Amadi pales in comparison to the religious obsession of her own father Eugene. Kambili’s father, Papa as she calls him, is very possessive of his son and daughter. He imposes his authority on them to even the smallest detail. In other words he is obsessive of his son and daughter to the extent of being a control freak. For example, “Papa sat down at the table and poured his tea from the china tea set with pink flowers on the edges. 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 love.” (Adichie, p.59) Although Papa Eugune thinks he is expressing his love in this fashion, in reality he is stifling the autonomy and individuality of them both. What makes matters worse for Kambili is that she does not find her father’s obsession to be malign. In fact, she is so used to it that she feels that it is the norm.
Having been so accustomed to obeying the dictates of her father, Kambili possessed little sense of independent judgement during her time with her parents. As evident in the above quote from the novel, her main concern was getting praise from her father by waiting for his orders before sipping tea. She would dare not break this tradition irrespective of her how she feels personally about the practice. But the truth is that Papa Eugene did not love his children as had believed. It is perhaps his strict adherence to orthodox religious practices that has made him outlook blinkered and his thinking one-dimensional. His obsession had also made him prone to fits of rage. For example, “Things started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the etagere.” (Adichie, p.112) Hence author Bernardine Adichie carves up a variety of obsessions in Purple Hibiscus. Not only are these obsessive behaviour patterns realistically portrayed, they also fit into the plot, theme and perspectives of the author.
We can see how the theme of obsession is common to the two books. Both authors – Bernardine Evaristo and Chimamanda Adichie use it in slightly different perspectives. For Evaristo, the context was obsessions that were manifest in the milieu of ancient imperialism. For Adichie, it is the backdrop of postcolonial Nigeria in which different characters play out their obsessions. We cannot make a judgment as to which of the two preoccupations is salient to the student of literature. This is so because obsession has its basis in neurosis and is a common human trait. The two authors seem to draw from the fact that obsession is fundamental to human makeup. It is perhaps due to the universality of this trait, that the reader can immediately relate or recognize the motivations and implications of obsessive behavior in the two novels.