Things Fall Apart

by: Chinua Achebe

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 2

And at last the locusts did descend. They settled on every tree and on every blade of grass; they settled on the roofs and covered the bare ground. Mighty tree branches broke away under them, and the whole country became the brown-earth color of the vast, hungry swarm.

This passage from Chapter 7 represents, in highly allegorical terms, the arrival of the colonizers. The locusts have been coming for years, but their symbolic significance in this passage lies in the inevitable arrival of the colonizers, which will alter the landscape and psychology of the Igbo people irreparably. The repetition of the phrase “They settled,” an example of the rhetorical device anaphora (in which a clause begins with the same word or words with which the previous clause begins), in addition to the repetition of the word “every,” reflects the suddenly ubiquitous presence of the locusts. The choice of the verb “settle,” of course, clearly refers to the colonizers. The branches that break under the weight of the locusts are symbols of the traditions and cultural roots of Igbo society, which can no longer survive under the onslaught of colonialism and white settlement. Ironically, the “vast, hungry swarm” is not white but rather brown like the earth; the emphasis, however, remains on the locusts’ consumptive nature and inescapable presence.