What Symbols Are Used in “Things Fall Apart”?

There are several symbols used in “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, including yams, fire, ash, the egwugwu and The Mother of the Spirits. Folk tales, especially those highlighting animals, are also used to symbolize femininity and provide a form of escapism.

Fire is used to symbolize Okonkwo’s fiery spirit as he is nicknamed “Roaring Flame” by his fellow clansmen. Yams also symbolize masculinity as it is a crop that is only grown by men. On the other hand, ash, which is produced from lighting fire, presents emasculation and impotency as it is cold and lifeless. The egwugwu, which are masked Umuofia elders, represent Umuofia’s culture, and The Mother of the Spirits is depicted as the mother of the egwugwu.