Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien is a complex story that uses many symbols to emphasize the theme of life and death. At the beginning of the story it seems to just be about a man, who is going on a long journey, but wants to finish his painting first. However, after reading the whole story the theme becomes clearer and the story becomes an allegory. Niggle is the main character of the story, he’s a painter, but is not a successful one according to the story. He’s extremely nervous and reluctant to go on his journey. Niggle is kind hearted and is unable to refuse to help others, even if he doesn’t want to. The country where Niggle live has strict rules on helping neighbors, therefore Niggle is forced to help his neighbor Parish, who he is not fond of. Through the symbols used in the story such as Niggles’ journey, his driver, the two voices, the inspector, Niggles tree, the hospital and the mountains; we get a clear vision of what the story is truly representing. The Inspector is the first is the first example of symbolic meaning we find in the story; the Inspector does not care about Niggles art and thinks he should use the material to repair the roof instead. The Inspector is representative of the society in which Niggle lived; a society where creativity was not the main focus. Along with the Inspector, a Driver comes along to take Niggle on his journey. Through interpretation we can see that the Driver represents death; he shows up unexpectedly because death is often not expected. When Niggle arrives to his destination, he is put to hard work. The hard work causes Niggle to go into the hospital where two voices are discussing his life, and deciding his fate. The first voice is extremely critical and harsh towards Niggle, while the second voice is much more understanding. We can assume that the hospital represents purgatory and the voices represent God and Jesus. They are trying to determine if it is possible for Niggle to move out of the purgatory.
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