Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in English



First Advisor

Amy Dr. King

Second Advisor

Stephen Dr. Sicari


This study explores the repercussions of slavery-induced dehumanization and trauma depicted in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and explores Kambili’s stifling home life characterized by her father’s rigid Catholicism in Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Morrison’s Beloved emphasizes the importance of personal engagement with the history of slavery so as to fully comprehend its horrors and overcome them. In Purple Hibiscus, the paper investigates the role religion plays in causing trauma, as Eugene’s strict adherence to Catholicism and dismissal of traditional rituals inflict both physical and psychological pain on his family. The complex and multifaceted depiction of religion in these novels exposes them as powerful, yet often contradictory, forces in the characters’ lives. This thesis delves into the influence of family environment and religion on character development, focusing on the traumatic effects of domestic abuse and slavery in Purple Hibiscus and Beloved. Morrison and Adichie demonstrate how religion can be both traumatic and healing for their characters, and how the family context shapes an individual’s religious beliefs and actions. By examining Kambili’s and Sethe’s experiences, this study analyzes their struggle to overcome past trauma and the significant role of religion in their journeys towards healing and finding purpose in their lives.