Papa’s role in the community is vital in its functioning: he the prime contributor to its people by donating money to the church and church related organisations. He uses his newspaper, The Standard as a form of rebellion against the corrupt military government which proves that he is trying to better the country. His relationship with Ade Coker and the effect that his death had on him proves that he has compassion and is soft-hearted ,but chooses to mask it- not wanting to show any sort weakness. He helps the Coker family get back on their feet after Ade’s death, helping the baby regain her voice thus proves that he has good qualities.
At home he is depicted as a tyrannical leader and is constantly enforcing his position in the family by means of instilling fear and in turn he receives blind obedience, discipline and most importantly the ‘perfect family’. His methods of enforcing his position ranges from extreme physical abuse which is vividly portrayed when he beat Mama to the point of her having a miscarriage and when he beat Kambili and Jaja for “walking into sin” in Nsukka ,to emotional abuse when he intimidated Kambili in front of her peers for ‘choosing’ to come second in class.
Actions such as these or ensuring that his children follow a strict schedule designed by him could easily change the reader’s perception of Papa into a negative one, but it is is justification and his his role in the community that sways the reader’s perception of him. His justification for his actions is portrayed through his fanatical belief. He feels that it is his moral obligation to punish those that have sinned which in turn redeems them their place in heaven.
This is continually represented by his emotional state whilst punishing a family member, crying while pouring water over Kambili’s feet, his swollen eyes after finding out about the miscarriage and the remorse that he felt after Mama left for Nsukka. It would be a fairly accurate deduction that Papa does monstrous things, but he also does good throughout the novel which proves that he is not a monster nor is he a saint.