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Universal Symbolism in Things Fall Apart Essay

Decent Essays
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a novel written to highlight the intriguing lives and misconceptions that are often identified with African culture. Achebe writes Things Fall Apart from the African view, a foreign perspective that sees westerners as the outsiders and Africans as the insiders. Focusing on a clan in lower Nigeria, Achebe profiles the clash of cultures that erupts when white Christians colonize and spread their religious ideals. Achebe is able to make his book so popular to the entire world because of his expert use of symbols like drums, locusts, and fire. These common symbols in which drums represent the beat of all civilization, locusts represent invasion by an outsider, and fire represents destruction, all aid…show more content…
As the novel progresses and focuses more on Okonkwo’s exile, and the Europeans arrival, drums are used less frequently. This reduction symbolizes the loss of culture that Umuofia gradually experiences due to outside forces. Because drums are universally known for celebration and culture, Achebe uses this symbol to better connect with his readers and to establish his story on humanity. While drums represent the culture of the African clan, Achebe also begins to incorporate the symbol of locusts, which represent the white men coming. Achebe commonly uses the symbol of locusts to represent and foreshadow the white men coming, and the clash of opposing cultures that takes place. When the locusts arrive in Umuofia the entire clan is full of joy because locusts are delicious to eat, however bad for the crops. Though they arrived after the harvest season had ended, this positive and negative parallel represents the same questions that are asked when colonizers arrive to the society. When the locusts first arrive in Umuofia, Achebe explains, “the locusts did descend. They settled on every tree on every blade of grass; they settled on the roofs and covered the bare ground. Mighty tree branches broke away under them” (129). The repetition of
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