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Traversing Geography, Attaining Cognition

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The Utility of Journey in the Postcolonial African Bildungsroman

image of Matatu

Although a number of studies of the African bildungsroman exist, they hardly explore the utility of journeying in the development of the protagonist. Some of these studies continue to reiterate the existence of the postcolonial African bildungsroman and its structure or how postcolonial writers have subverted this genre to narrativize the African experience of growth. However, the crucial role of travel in the African bildungsroman remains to be discussed comprehensively. It is my intention, therefore, to address this oversight and begin to fill the gap. My central contention is that travel is an essential catalyst in the process of personal growth. Chimamada Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus will function as my primary text for analysis, but I also make reference to other narratives as ancillary texts in order to accentuate the functionality of journey, its metaphoric implications, and its structural application to Purple Hibiscus as a postcolonial African bildungsroman. In order to understand how mobility facilitates the construction of consciousness in Purple Hibiscus, I situate Kambili’s personal growth around a kind of mobility which resides within the usual-everyday kind of journey, which is by no means mythic, to articulate a template that foregrounds Kambili’s struggle for individuation—familial confinement, separation-cum-isolation, initiation, and return.

Affiliations: 1: Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State, Nigeria


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