Theme Of Fire Symbolism In Things Fall Apart

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The following quotation is taken from Saskya Pandita, a Buddhist leader and scholar. "Even in decline, a virtuous man increases the beauty of his behavior. A burning stick, though turned to the ground, has its flame drawn upwards" (Pandita). The metaphor mentioned in this quote, one that compares a struggling man to surviving flame, is not unlike the character of Okonkwo in the novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo was an honored member of an African clan, the Igbo, who lived his life with one goal: strength. Okonkwo pushed himself to be the essence of masculinity and power in every facet of his life, which left him constantly simmering and angry. There was no room for anything that could possibly take away from his firmness. For …show more content…
As Okonkwo sits in his obi, he makes a chilling realization as he ponders what could have gone wrong. “Okonkwo’s eyes were opened and he saw the whole matter clearly. Living fire begets cold, impotent ash” (Achebe 272). The narrator used a proverb here to express the deep meaning of Okonkwo 's realization. What this proverb means is that, while fire burns vigorously, it can produce nothing but worthless ash. Okonkwo, who considered himself to be like a flame, now understands what this means for his son. He has essentially condemned to a life of failure from the day he was brought into the world. As he stares at the fire burning in his obi, he has realized that his success and achievements in life will never allow his son to prosper. Not only did he grow up cowering in his father 's shadow, but he would never meet the expectations that others had made for him. His success will only allow his son to dissatisfy others based off of their prior knowledge of Okonkwo. Something so great was destined to only create failure. Thus, Okonkwo 's flame-like characteristics have been set to destroy his own son from the start. Chinua Achebe 's novel Things Fall Apart uses symbolism to express that fire can represent light and be the epitome of life, but can also lead to the complete and total destruction of what one has created in their lifetime. Throughout the novel, the reader could see the comparison between Okonkwo and the figurative flames. As he moved further into his life, he created more and more destruction as he made his choices. In the end, it only made sense for his dwindling flame to be smothered by the outside forces that had intruded on his

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