Things Fall Apart Symbolism

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Chinua Achebe wrote the book, Things Fall Apart, to fight against the stereotypical image of African people lacking in culture, which is what had been assumed by many people. He accomplished his goal in many different ways throughout the book, using a variety of linguistic devices. However, the device that stood out to throughout the storyline was the interesting and creative use of symbolism. There are many differences between the culture of the Nigerian people who are represented in the book and the culture of all the other people in the world. Sadly this unique culture had been portrayed badly by many other works, included the book, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. Achebe wanted to show the culture in the positive light it deserved. One way he did this was once again, with symbolism. This is when his use of symbolism to show cultural differences was used. The biggest instance of this was when the locusts came to the village. “‘Locusts are descending,’ was joyfully chanted everywhere” (Achebe55). In most societies, Locusts are seen as a bad thing, and are associated with plague. However here we see that their arrival is greeted with joy, and the more we read we see that they have taken the phrase ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ seriously. Before the locusts have a chance to destroy all of the crops, these people collect them, roast them, and eat them. So locusts are symbolic of the differences in culture. However, if that incident was not enough information to show that, this idea was later reinforced when the missionaries arrived and killed the village of Abame, the oracle referred to these white missionaries from a different culture as , “…locusts, it said, and that first man was their harbinger sent to explore the terrain” (Achebe139). Locusts in their actuality were acknowledged positively, yet when put in context with the missionaries whose culture would not see them as a reason for joy; the comparison has a negative...
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