Face threatening acts in familiar communicational space in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus

  • Austin A. Agantiem


As participants in communicative events, we consciously and unconsciously put on a ‘face’ and do observe the other people’s faces. In Pragmatics, the Face Theory has been proposed to account for the role of participants’ facial dispositions in the achievement of communicative ends. Sometimes, a participant’s ‘face’ constitution can become a threat to the other and disorient or irritate or undermine them in an interaction. Such a constitution of face is referred to as a Face Threatening Act. This paper studies the face threatening acts in the interactional space among characters in Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and establishes how those acts aid or mar the illocutionary goals of participants. The study concludes that the ‘face’ is inseparable from participants’ dispositions in a conversation and a ‘knowing’ participant adopts face threatening acts or exploits the face of the other to protect their own self-image and to achieve their ends.

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