How Important Is Symbolism In the African Story 'Veronica' by Adewale Maja-Pearce?

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HOW IMPORTANT IS SYMBOLISM IN THE AFRICAN STORY "VERONICA" BY ADEWALE MAJA-PEARCE? There is no doubt whatsoever that in Adewale Maja-Pearce's story of "Veronica" she uses contrast to show, initially, the ever-increasing gap between the traditions of cultural village life and the materialism of city life. The story highlights how cultures change and traditions move on, but your heart lies where your roots are. You cannot change the love for your birthplace, as it will always flow through your blood, as seen by the "pull" that Okeke feels about his origins. Symbolism plays a very important role in this story. It is, in fact, the symbolism in the story that illustrates fully the initial pain Okeke feels at being parted from Veronica. It exposes the clash of village and city life, the urban/rural divide, and then, finally the return to pain Okeke feels when having to bury Veronica, the only woman who he could see himself loving. This is most palpable when Okeke describes Veronica as having "a certain attractiveness". Therefore, the symbolism in this story is so strong that it can essentially be related to these three areas and the author uses natural or materialistic emblems to convey the clashes of culture and the sensitivity of the moment of Veronica's death.


The piece of paper with his address, given to Veronica is particularly striking for she took it and "tucked it in her bosom". This is particularly representative to the fact that he will always remain close to her heart, just as she will to him. To Veronica, the piece of paper was almost like a parting gift, so precious and valuable. One doubts whether she would ever use it, yet that is not important: it is the act of giving. When Okeke returns as part of a government scheme to work in the rural districts of the country a village/city clash of culture and tradition is perceptible. The fact that he arrives with " a couple of nurses, three male assistants and a suitcase full of medicines" is symbolic because it is representative of the fact that Okeke is now a professional. He now has support and has returned with a certain professional and city status, bringing with him symbols of the way to a better life. However Okeke's changed position and view is also important. He has returned with an urban point and after having trained, now has a sense of hygiene in the city and is comparing it. From looking at it with city standards, he thinks that it has worsened.


When Okeke finds her like this, he insists on moving her, but she remains adamant that she wishes to stay here, in peace. "She closed her eyes and turned her face to the wall," a moving gesture showing that she has lost her husband, her child and her will to live. The fact that Okeke decides to bury Veronica by the stream is significant as the first time he left to go to the University they met by the stream; it therefore represents their unique friendship. The stream, like the twig, represents life, and as the water never stops flowing, life never stops either. Similarly, it could be said that as the current moves on, so does life. Water is also a symbol of purity, and even though Veronica died of disease, Okeke buries her by the water to purify her and to free her soul. The stream is ultimately a display of how the cycle of life continues. Therefore the symbolism in "Veronica" is of paramount importance. Without it, the reader would never have been able to fully understand and appreciate the divide of culture and tradition between the city and villages, the changing nature of urban and rural communities in Africa, or the extraordinary relationship shared between Okeke and Veronica. PRIYA PATEL 11G

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