Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe

by

Karim Chandra

Symbols
Symbols are objects or figures that artists use to represent an idea.
Fire
Fire represents rage and immense desire in this novel. It is in this respect that Okonkwo is nicknamed, ‘Roaring Fire’ as a description of his nature. An examination of Okonkwo reveals that he is a man of rage. Achebe says that "whenever he could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists." In chapter 24, Okonkwo reflects on the loss of Nwoye. He laments that even the strongest flames usually produce cold and useless ashes. Clearly, Okonkwo sees himself as fire and Nwoye, who is lazy and unproductive, as ash. At the end, Okonkwo succumbs to his rage when he kills a messenger and that that pressed the buton that led to his collapse.
Yams
The Igbo men grow a lot of yams. Yams are used to represent masculinity, wealth and status. It is in chapter three when Okonkwo as borrowed Yam seed and planted that he starts to get respect in the society. It is an indication that his status has changed and the elders start recognizing him. In chapter 4, it is revealed that growing Yams is a job reserved to men. That is because it is immensely challenging. A clan’s man who succeeds in growing Yams gets a honorable place in the society. Achebe says, "Yam, the king of crops, was a very exacting king."
Locusts
Locusts have been used in this novel to represent the coming of the white man. In chapter 15, Oracle does not leave any doubts with regards to the assertion that white men are locusts. The first mentioning of locusts is in chapter 7 when so many locusts appear in the whole of the country that they block sunlight. The appearance of these locusts in chapter 7 pave way for the appearance of the white man in chapter 15. Just like the destruction caused by locusts in chapter 7, Oracle says that the white man would appear in their land and would cause massive destruction including the killing of man.
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