In Things Fall Apart, how did the villagers feel about the coming of the locusts?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The locusts arrive at the village in Chapter 7 of this text, and are greeted with unequivocal joy and enthusiasm. The narrator reveals that the locusts have not come for many years, so only the more elderly villages remember them, but at the same time, there is an instinctive awareness that the locusts will be good to eat and the villagers hope desperately that they will settle and not move on. Note how they greeted the locusts:

Everyone was now about, talking excitedly and praying that the locusts should cap in Umuofia for the night. For although locusts had not visited Umuofia for many years, everybody knew that they were very good to eat. And at last the locusts did descend. They settled on every tree and 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 colour of the vast, hungry swarm.

The villagers were therefore very excited about theĀ  arrival of the locusts as they saw them as a food source. However, it is important to realise how the arrival of the locusts at this point in the novel is symbolic, and is used to represent the coming of the white man to Umuofia. Just as the locusts descend and stay, covering everything, so the white man comes and influences everything with his presence. Just as the tree branches break, so white man comes to break the cultural roots of the tribe.


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