Things Fall Apart Character Symbolism Essay

803 words - 3 pages

In Achebe's novel "Things Fall Apart," the plot revolves around the relationships between the characters and what they represent. Symbolism, an important element in the book, is used greatly to describe how the characters develop and react to each other in the novel. Symbolism shows what the characters represent and what they can relate to as a result of their actions. Three major characters in the novel show symbolism by what they do in relation to their actions in the story. Okonkwo symbolizes the fire, Nwoye symbolizes the wind, and Ikemefuna symbolizes a wilting flower.Okonkwo, the main character in the story, can be described as fire for various reasons. For example, when Okonkwo shows that he is a hard worker by his many personal achievements that bring honor to his village, he is symbolizing the birth of the flame. This shows that Okonkwo did care about his beliefs in his culture, and also about gaining pride amongst his fellow villagers. Okonkwo's flame began to rise in the beginning chapters as he gained wealth by working hard and sharecropping until he was able to afford his own land and crops. Yet, Okonkwo has his weaknesses and it is these weaknesses the ultimately destroy the life that he created for himself. For example, his nickname "Roaring Flame," is derived because he has much self-determination, and his rash fire like temper that makes him break many of his tribal laws. Okonkwo's flame, then begins to weaken. When he returns to the village from his exile of the murdering of a sixteen year old, he finds that his son Nwoye, who symbolizes wind, has turned to Christianity as a result of missionaries. Knowing he has lost any place he might have in the new society, he goes to his compound and hangs himself. Thus, the flame has been blow out by the wind, and the new culture of the village has overridden Okonkwo's real beliefs causing the tragedy.Nwoye, Okonkwo's eldest son, can be symbolized as wind because of how he quickly changes as it does. For example, when the missionaries came to the village to modernize it and change the religion, Nwoye became attracted to the new faith. His confusion about the Igbo customs such as killing his good friend Ikemfuna, are answered by his new faith that seems more tolerant. Thus, the direction of his faith has changed from old customs to new customs. In...

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