Language and style never moves beyond a concentration on the supremacy of words. Literary piece (such as novels) somehow contain meaning of style with language; effectively manipulated in ways that signal it as different from “ordinary” language. A stylistic analysis of Chimamanda Adichie’s “Purple Hibiscus” (2003) and Chinua Achebe’s “Anthills of the Savannah” (1987) is carried out to educate, explicate and expose everybody that come across this paper, in guiding them on how to analyse and understand these prose texts. It also examines the uniqueness of stylistics as it concerns both the combination of linguistics and literary study of the texts being reviewed. The data used to illustrate and substantiates our claims are systematically sourced from the selected Nigerian prose texts earlier mentioned. The lexico-semantic patterns and choices, the phonological, morphological, syntactic and graphological devices are the main stylistic elements coupled with rigorous in-depth analysis of the figurative language employed in selected prose texts which are used to prove our claims. Finally, we find that each of the elements however, has identifiable functions which contribute to the effective meaning of the texts. Therefore, it can be concluded that these elements trigger and play important roles in passing the intention of the writers/authors across their audience. Comparatively, this research discovers that Adichie borrows a lot from Achebe’s manner of writing in simple free-flow linguistic and stylistic presentations, there is, nevertheless, a wide disparity in their sexist beliefs and ideological orientations. This implies that; while Achebe tends towards phallocentric predilection, Adichie subtly differs by pitching a camp with her gender lot – Feminism. This creates a wide valley between the two mountains.
Stylistics has always had a hard time of it. As an academic discipline it has always been seen, pretty much throughout the twentieth century, as neither one thing nor the other, or, much worse, as all things to all men and women, as sitting uncomfortably on the fence between the linguistic and the literary, and as a bit uneasy within either domain, building bridges that never quite stretch far enough across dividing waters and always, as here, resorting to retreat, repair and reconciliation metaphors of bridges, unfilled gaps and spaces, crossing contested territories, unhappy marriages and paths not taken. In the 1960s and 1970s this was in part to be expected for an essentially inchoate interdisciplinary endeavour. Linguists felt stylistics was too soft to be taken too seriously and tended to introduce irrelevant notions such as performance data and interpretation; literature specialists felt that stylistics was too hard, too mechanistic and too reductive, saying nothing significant about historical context or aesthetic theory, eschewing evaluation for the most part in the interests of a naïve scientism and claiming too much for interpretations that were at best merely text-immanent. And many linguists and literary critics continue to this day to give stylistics a hard time. But, for better or for worse, stylisticians have stayed together. Although, there have been few divorces or major disagreements within the family (G. Watson and S, Zyngier, 2007: R. Carter, 2007).
However, stylistics as a term as generally been referred to as the study of style and language. The concept of style itself has had a troubled history in the modern period both within and outside literary study. It has commonly been argued that, we use the term ‘style’ without knowing its meaning. The Work of literature is written and presented in many ways in order to bring out its creative nature. To achieve this, the writer uses his peculiar manners, choice of words and form in presenting his message. This is what is known as style. Style therefore is the peculiar way in which something is done (Nnaji, 2014).
Simpson (2004:2) defines style as “a method of textual interpretation in which primary of place is assigned to language”. This shows that language is the key point in stylistic because a writer employs various forms and patterns of language while presenting his message.
Stylistics is the description and analysis of the variability of linguistic forms in actual language use. The concepts of ‘style’ and ‘stylistic variation’ in language rest on the general assumption that within the language system, the same content can be encoded in more than one linguistic form. Operating at all linguistic levels (e.g. lexicology, syntax, text linguistics and intonation), stylisticians analyse both the style of specific texts and stylistic variation across texts. These texts can be literary or non-literary in nature. Generally speaking, style may be regarded as a choice of linguistic means; as deviation from a norm; as recurrence of linguistic forms and as comparison.
Azuike (1992) in Nnaji (2014) identifies the following rubrics to guide one in stylistic analysis. They are: “Style as a deviation from the norm, style as individual, style as content and form, style as choice, style as a product of context, style as good and beautiful writing”.
Style as choice, as one of the six rubrics forms, is the focus of this work. This means that an individual can adopt a special way of writing to make his work unique. Often times, the author’s identity is given away by some details reflecting, habit of expression or thought, and these seem to confirm that each writer has a linguistic ‘thumb-print’, an individual combination of linguistic habits which somehow betrays him in all that he writes. Accordingly, it is a writer’s idiosyncratic way of expressing himself or herself, it is an offshoot of his or her personality.
Style may be said to relate communicative performance, which is the demonstration of the speaker’s or writer’s language capacity in generating and understanding specific communicative contexts. Stylistics therefore is the study of style. But style itself, by its nature, is a subject of debate. This paper is thus an attempt to investigate the style of writings of these two authors that make their works distinct from their contemporaries.
● PLOT (PURPLE HIBISCUS)
Kambili Achike, the narrator, is a fifteen-year-old girl living in Enugu, Nigeria with her father, Eugene (Papa), mother, Beatrice (Mama), and older brother, Chukwuku (Jaja). The novel begins on Palm Sunday. Jaja refuses to receive communion at church, and Papa throws his missal, breaking Mama’s beloved figurines. Kambili then explains the events leading up to this scene. Papa, a wealthy factory owner, is an active philanthropist in public and an upstanding Catholic, but at home is a strict and violent authoritarian. He publishes a newspaper, the Standard, which is the only paper willing to criticize the new Nigerian Head of State.
Mama gets pregnant. After Mass one day the family visits Father Benedict, their white priest. Mama feels sick and doesn’t want to leave the car. When they return home Papa beats Mama until she has a miscarriage. Later Kambili takes her exams and comes second in her class, disappointing Papa. At Christmas the family goes to their home village of Abba. Papa’s father, Papa-Nnukwu, lives there, but Papa doesn’t speak to him because his father sticks to his traditional religion and won’t become Catholic. Kambili and Jaja visit Papa-Nnukwu briefly. Aunty Ifeoma, Papa’s widowed sister and a university professor, arrives in Abba as well. She seems fearless and willing to criticize both Papa and the government. Her children; Amaka, Obiora, and Chima: are precocious and outspoken.
Ifeoma takes Jaja and Kambili to an Igbo festival. On Christmas Papa feeds the whole village. The next day Papa catches Kambili breaking the “Eucharist fast” as she eats some food along with a painkiller she needs to take for menstrual cramps, and he beats her, Jaja, and Mama. Ifeoma convinces Papa to let Jaja and Kambili visit her in Nsukka. Kambili and Jaja arrive and are surprised by Ifeoma’s poverty, but also the constant laughter in her house. Jaja is fascinated by the purple hibiscuses in Ifeoma’s garden. Father Amadi, a young, handsome Nigerian priest, comes to dinner.
As the days progress Jaja opens up, though Kambili remains silent and confused. Ifeoma hears that Papa-Nnukwu is sick, and she fetches him from Abba. Amaka starts painting a picture of him. Father Amadi visits often, and Kambili finds herself attracted to him. One morning Kambili observes Papa-Nnukwu’s morning ritual, which is similar to Catholic confession.
Father Amadi takes Kambili to the local stadium. He makes her chase after him and tries to get her to talk. Kambili is confused by her feelings and his “unpriestly” demeanor. Papa finds out that Papa-Nnukwu is staying in the house. The next morning the family discover that Papa-Nnukwu has died in his sleep. Papa takes Jaja and Kambili back to Enugu, and Amaka gives Kambili her painting. Papa punishes Jaja and Kambili for not telling him they were staying in the same apartment as their grandfather, a pagan, by pouring boiling water on their feet. Papa and his editor, Ade Coker, decide to run a controversial story in the Standard. Soon after, Ade Coker is assassinated with a package bomb.
One day Kambili and Jaja are looking at the painting of Papa-Nnukwu when Papa comes in. He beats Kambili severely, and she wakes up in the hospital. Papa agrees to let Jaja and Kambili return to Nsukka. Ifeoma worries about losing her job for speaking out against the “sole administrator” appointed by the government. The university closes after a student riot. Men ransack Ifeoma’s flat, trying to intimidate her. Kambili falls more deeply in love with Father Amadi, who seems attracted to her.
Mama arrives one day after being beaten into another miscarriage. Papa takes his family home, and the next day is the Palm Sunday on which the novel begins, when Jaja stands up to Papa. After Palm Sunday there is less fear and silence in the house. Ifeoma calls to say that she has been fired and is moving to America. Jaja and Kambili return to Nsukka. Ifeoma takes them on a pilgrimage to Aokpe, where Kambili sees visions of the Virgin Mary and reaffirms her faith. Father Amadi leaves to do missionary work, and Kambili weeps and confesses her love to him. Ifeoma gets a visa and prepares to leave Nigeria. Papa is found dead at his desk, and they all go to Enugu. When Papa’s autopsy is complete, Mama says that she poisoned him. The police arrive and Jaja takes responsibility for the crime.
Three years later, Kambili and Mama visit Jaja in prison to tell him he will be released soon. Mama has grown withdrawn and rarely speaks. After the visit, Kambili feels hopeful about the future.
● PLOT (ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH)
Set in the fictitious West African country of Kangan, Anthills of the Savannah opens with a meeting of the regime's president and his Cabinet. The government has been in place for two years, since a coup overthrew the former dictator. Three men, friends since childhood, have assumed important positions in the new system. Sam is the president, Chris Oriko is the Commissioner of Information, and Ikem Osodi is the editor of the government controlled newspaper, the National Gazette. Ikem is an intellectual and a poet who is very outspoken about the need to reform the government. Chris acts as a mediator between Ikem and Sam.
Sam has become a leader without regard for his people, seeking only to acquire more power for himself by any means necessary. Chris and Ikem realize that Sam is rapidly becoming a dictator. They helped get him appointed to the position, even encouraging him when he felt that his military background was inadequate preparation for a position of such importance. Now, Chris and Ikem regret their previous support of their friend and seek to control Sam in their own ways. Meanwhile, Sam's obsession with power has made him paranoid and temperamental. When Sam decides he wants to be elected "President−for−Life," a national referendum is called but the region of Abazon refuses to participate. Sam in turn denies the region access to water despite a drought, expecting that without water or food the people will give in. When delegates from Abazon arrive at the capital on a mission for mercy, Sam suspects that they are actually planning an insurrection. In fact, his paranoia leads him to believe that the insurrection is being assisted by someone close to him.
Although Chris is aware of how dangerous Sam is becoming, he believes that by staying in his government position he can serve his country. Meanwhile, Ikem's editorials are becoming more radical, and Chris tries to convince him to tone them down.
Ikem has a girlfriend, Elewa, who is semiliterate and works in a shop. She is pregnant with his child. Chris's fiancee, Beatrice, is a well−educated woman who holds a position as administrator for one of the state offices. She has known Ikem since youth and works for Sam, so she has connections to all of the major characters. She observes the government's activities and Chris's and Ikem's reactions, and feels that she is the only one sensitive enough to truly understand the situation. She expresses to Chris and Ikem that they are approaching the problem incorrectly because they are not really connecting to the people and the land.
Sam commands Chris to fire Ikem from his position as editor, at which point Chris responds in a highly unusual way—he refuses to obey Sam's order. Sam believes that Ikem is involved in the "protest" staged by the delegates of Abazon, but Chris knows better. Still, Ikem is fired and soon after addresses a student group at a university. Never one to hold his tongue, he is very vocal about his criticism of the government. He makes a joke about the regime minting coins with Sam's head on them, which is turned into propaganda claiming that Ikem has called for the beheading of the president. Ikem is taken from his home in the middle of the night and shot and killed by the state police.
Chris realizes just how dangerous Sam has become and goes into hiding after using his contacts within the international press to publicize the truth about Ikem's murder. With the help of Emmanuel, a student leader who greatly admires Chris; Abdul, a sympathetic cab driver; and a small covert network of supporters, Chris is able to escape the capital city of Bassa by bus and head for Abazon. Meanwhile, the government orders Chris's arrest and threatens anyone found to be withholding information about him.
On the bus trip, Chris begins to feel reconnected to his native land and Emmanuel meets a beautiful student named Adamma. The bus is stopped by a mob caught up in a drunken frenzy. They are celebrating the news that Sam has been killed and his regime overthrown in another coup. As Chris and the other bus passengers make their way through the crowd, gathering bits of information, Chris sees Adamma being dragged off by a soldier to be raped. Chris rushes to her rescue, and the soldier shoots and kills him.
Emmanuel, Abdul, and Adamma return to Bassa to tell Beatrice and the others what has happened. Although grief−stricken, Beatrice hosts a naming ceremony for Ikem's baby girl, born after his murder. Men traditionally perform the ceremony, but Beatrice fulfils this role, naming the child Amaechina, a boy's name that means "May the Path Never Close."
AUTHOR’S NARRATIVE STYLE (ADICHIE AND ACHEBE)
● Narrative Style in “Purple Hibiscus”
“Purple Hibiscus” is told in the first person narrative style. The language is simple and sometimes lyrical. As stated earlier, it is an account of sights and sounds from the mouth of a quiet witness like Mama, Aunty Ifeoma, Jaja and Ade Coker. In Adichie’s employment of the ‘shift in perspective technique’, Kambili’s focus is beamed beyond the seclusion of the Achike family house in Abba to the wider society. Some reviewers argue that the political sub-plot of Purple Hibiscus does not complement its main plot. This view is incorrect. It is chiefly through this sub-plot that the novel’s setting emerges. Ade Coker reminds us of the late Dele Giwa, who was bombed to death in Lagos during the Babangida’s military regime. By localizing this sub-plot and its drama to Abba, the setting becomes modern Nigeria as a whole. The political sub-plot also aggravates the drama in the main plot by fuelling Eugene’s stress, this help to shake things up towards the climax and hasten the drama and the suspense that brought about his tragedy.
Adichie’s language was simple and comprehensible by an average reader in the least however she does endeavour to import some of her native language’s lexicons but she was careful enough to make sure they don’t hinder the simplicity in the text’s language as the English translation of these lexicons were made to follow immediately after them. Also, it helps inform the reader of the cultural inclination of the text.
● Narrative Style in ‘Anthills of the Savannah’
“Anthills of the Savannah” provides a complete view of the action of the novel by offering multiple points of view. Achebe allows the reader to see the situation from the points of view of Ikem, Chris, and Beatrice, and also, in some passages, from that of a third person, omniscient narrator. This technique enables the reader to make judgements for him/herself rather than relying on a narrator or a single character to supply descriptions of people and events. This also is a way in which Achebe retains the part of his African literary heritage that focuses on the community rather than on the individual.
Most of the dialogues of the ordinary people of Kangan is written in the dialect of Pidgin English. The unusual grammar and unfamiliar words of this dialect can be difficult for western readers, but its inclusion gives the novel a strong sense of realism. In additional it is easy to identify a character’s level of education or social standing based on his or her manner of speech. Chris, Beatrice, and Ikem are sympathetic as characters, as they are able to interact with common people by speaking Pidgin English and with powerful political figures by speaking British English. Rather than distance themselves from ordinary citizen, as Sam does. Chris, Beatrice and Ikem routinely abandon their British English in favour of being able to communicate in a meaningful way.
TEXTUAL ANALYSIS OF “PURPLE HIBISCUS” AND “ANTHILLS”
● Morphological Analysis of “Purple Hibiscus”
At the morphological level, Initialisms are employed in the texts thus abbreviated names or perhaps “lexemes” are used to represent and refer to certain items and concepts. For example, “Television” is represented and referred to as “TV", “Master of ceremony” is represented by “MC”. Under this light, “Curriculum Vitae” is represented as “CV” and “Vice–Chancellor” as “VC”. These initialized/abbreviated words are used by the writer to familiarize the reader with the objects and concepts being referred to. For instance, abbreviated forms “TV”, “MC”, “CV”, “VC” and “CNN” are commonly used in the informal setting. Thus, this saves the text from being “too formal” and therefore helps to give the audience or reader a sense of familiarity with the text.
Word–compounding is another morphological device employed in the text by the writer to give a perfect description of certain concepts by joining two or more words together with a hyphen to create a new word/lexeme with a new meaning. Examples are;
- “Later, she knot palm front into sagging crop shape and hang on the wall beside our gold-frame family photo”. (pg. 11) – i .e. framed with Gold.
- “I tied around my chest, over my pink-and-white flowered nightgown.” (pg. 174) - i.e. a nightgown made of pink-and-white colour flower design.
- “Aunty said, laughing in that proud-coach-watching-the-team way.” (pg.140) – i.e. this depict that the person being refer to in this context (Aunty Ifeoma) laughs in the kind of manner in which a football coach who has been made proud : watching his football team play.
- “She lowly ran the cloth over her figurine one of its match-stick-size legs raised high in the air, before spoke.” (pg. 43) – i.e. legs like the size of that of matches sticks.
- “We drove past the sturdy tree around the faculty of engineering, past the vast mango-filled field around the female hostel.” (pg. 139) – i.e. full of mango trees.
- “I could see the big duplex that nestled behind a canopy of trees with greenish–yellow leaves…” (pg. 139) – i.e. yellow leaves with dotted green colour pigments.
This technique was deployed in abundance in this text to aid perfect description of objects, concepts and ideas. It also contributes to the simplified nature of language of the text thus making it, easy to read and understand even by an average reader. Other Instance of word compounding is.
- “…she then pointed to the vice chancellors lodge, to the high walls surround it, and said its youth to have well-tended hedges of cherry…” (pg. 139)
- “…and the palm–size flower brightened the foliage in the yellow polka dots.” (pg. 137)
- “…only for a snack when we sometimes bought the steam cooked cow-pea-and-palm-oil cakes on the drive Abba” (pg. 135)
- “…three long-stemmed roses so piercingly red, I wondered…” (pg. 122)
- “…to spill over onto a thin strip of road already full double-parked…” (pg. 119)
- “…It laid there, a huge leather-bound missal that contained the reading for all three cycles of the church year.” (pg. 15)
● Morphological Analysis of “Anthills of the Savannah”
At the morphology level, Initialism and Word–compounding has noticed in Adichie’s “Purple Hibiscus”, are also employed by the writer to propel familiarization of words with the reader’s everyday language. Examples of instance of deployment of these devices in the text are given below.
Initialism as stated earlier helps to familiarize the reader with the text. This is because these instances of initials connote every day or informal language. Thus prevents the text from being too formal in its language. Instances of Initialism in the text are as follow:
VIP – “Very Important Person” (pg. 23)
NTBB – “Not To Be Broadcast” (pg. 34)
MM – “Mad Medico” (pg. 35)
BB- “Buife, Beatrice” (pg. 36)
Initialism is also used to abbreviate characters’ names.
Instances of Word-Compounding in the text are:
- “He was the all-rounder--good student, captain of the Cricket Team…” (pg. 36) - i.e. good in all school activities: academic and extra – curricular.
- “Well-chosen words” (pg. 3) – i.e. carefully selected words.
- “...opened the heavy doors of carved panels, stood aside and gave a long, hand-quivering salute.” (pg. 5) – i.e. saluting with his hand shaking.
- “And when His Excellency asked me to suggest half-a-dozen names for his Cabinet Professor Okong was top of my list.” (pg. 8) – i.e. Half of a dozen, six perhaps.
- “...invited by the even younger coup-makers to become His Excellency the Head of State...” (pg. 8) – i.e. those who orchestrated coup.
As stated earlier, word-compounding is deployed in the text by the writer in order to help the reader have a detailed description, explanation as well as depicted picture of characters and events by the writer.
● Graphological Analysis of “Purple Hibiscus”
At the Graphological level, Punctuations marks such as colons, semi – colons and dashes are employed in abundance in the texts.
The Semi–colons are used to provide more explanatory information in addition to the previously provided Facts as seen in the samples below;
“we had to found civilized in public” he told us; we had to speak English (pg. 21)
In the above extract, the first statement had already conveyed a complete thought or information. However, the punctuating semi–colon is used to introduce the second sentence (underlined) which only conveyed the information the speaker intended or was initially trying to pass to the reader in the first sentence. This implies that the speaker is prohibited from speaking their native language when they are in public. Another instance of semi-colon is seen below:
“It was mostly Mama’s prayer group members who plucked flowers; a woman tucked one behind her ear once, I saw her clearly from my window” (pg. 17).
This implies that although the speaker has never been present when mama’s prayer group plucked the flower but having seen one of them tucked one behind her ear once; she was very sure they are the ones plucking the flowers indeed.
In the above extract, the first sentence entails a suggestive statement, while the second sentence introduced with a semi-colon, entails backing evidence provided to validate the speaker’s claim. Other instances of semi colons are:
- “He always encouraged father Benedict to call and win that person back into the fold; nothing but moral sin would keep a person away from communion two Sundays in a row” (pg. 14).
The above, serve to reflect the belief if the speaker about anyone who miss(es) holy communion two Sundays consecutively or perhaps absent from the church on two Sundays consecutively.
- “Her green wrapper hung lower than usual on her waist; it had been knotted with a lazy effort at the side” (pg. 42)
This serves to suggest that “the wrapper” must have been wore (put on) or tied in a hurry.
- “I could hardly hear her words; instead what I heard clearly was the sound of something catching on her trout” (pg. 46)
This serve to suggest that the person being referred to in the above extract (Yewande) was crying, sobbing and talking simultaneously.
Dashes on the other hand, are also used but only to provide additional information or description e.g.;
- “Father Benedict usually referred to the pope, papa and Jesus - in that order” (pg. 12)
This serve to suggest that, Father Benedict has always preach this sermon (every sermon) in that pattern; by giving credit, to the pope, Eugene and then Jesus Christ in that hierarchical pattern which shows how much dear, he holds Eugene Achike in esteemed regards. Dash here, is used to provide detail and additional information.
- “She was nervous, I could tell – not just because a fresh cashew tasted nothing like white wine but also because her voice was lower than usual” (pg. 21)
This serve to suggest the person being referred to his not only “nervous” but terrified as well as whole trying hard to impress Papa so that he can’t get cooled having been angered previously JaJa.
- “Although papa did not smile at her – he looked too sad to smile – I wished I had to say that before mama did” (pg. 50)
The above, serves to suggest that papa was quite impressed by what mama had just said previously. But his sadness overcrowds this impression which shows the kind of agony he borne in him and how dejected he is.
Few Colons were also employed by the writer to introduce factual messages and informative insights concerning events and characters at hand, some are descriptive but often about a particular concept or idea. For example;
- “…. the same feeling I got after I sneezed: a clear tingling sensation” (pg. 50)
In the above extract ‘colon’ is used to introduce and provide a perfect picture of the kind of ‘feeling’ the speaker was initially telling us about. Thus, it serves to suggest that the speaker (Kambili) was proudly impressed (and eventually relived) having her father praised and admired in such manner and with such description.
By and large, all these punctuation marks are employed in the text in order to provide additional information, facts description, explanation, thought and ideas. These help to feed the readers with enough details about the picture being painted by the writer in the story.
Italic is another graphological device deployed by the writer to separate and identify foreign words/lexeme/phrases from the English words. Most especially, “words and phrases” adopted from the Adichie’s indigenous language: Igbo language. It is also used to identify names of particular items or products in the middle of sentences e.g. “Standard” as seen in one of the exact below:
- “But no, he used The Standard to speak the truth…” (page 13)
“Standard” is the brand name of papa` s newspaper / editorial company. Italics here, is used to introduce and identify the name of the afore-mentioned “item” or “product” within the sentences. It is written in a manner different from that of other texts/words/letters. Thus; it is foregrounded. Another example is:
- “Nne ngwa, go and change” (pg. 16)
Here italics is used to identify foreign word which is used with English adopted from the writer’s Igbo Language (One of the three major Languages in Nigeria).
- “Papa Nnukwu was an ozu now, a corpse” (pg. 121)
In the above sentence, italic is use to separate the Igbo lexeme: “ozu” substituted by the writer and used in place of the English word “corpse”.
- “The word fridge floated around my head” (pg. 192)
In the sentence above, italic is used to foreground the lexeme: “fridge”. It serves to suggest to us the speaker’s amazement or perhaps, surprise at the fact that “corpse” (dead body: human) are kept in fridge as a means of preserving them. Hence, it sounded strange to the speaker.
- “To say ebezina and wipe away her tears” (pg. 193).
It is noted that most of the initialized words, phrase and lexemes written in the writer’s native language were deliberately foregrounded. This is because the writer could have simply supply and replace them with their English counter-parts instead of providing them as additional information. Hence, it helps carry with the text: “a cultural identity” (African cultural identity) along with it through language–lexeme importation. It also adds beauty to African literature as a whole. It makes it easy to identify the text as a Nigerian/African literary text.
Capitalizations, another graphological device deployed in the text to deliberately foreground words, phrases or statements by being written in contracted form (capital letter) different from the pattern in which others were written e.g.
- GOD IS LOVE (pg. 15)
- WELCOME TO ABBA TOWN (pg. 63)
This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research