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What are three symbols related to colonialism in "Gentleman of the Jungle"?

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"Gentleman of the Jungle" is an allegory for colonialism and imperialism in Africa, and as such it is rich with symbols.

Teeth and claws

In the initial trial between Mr. Elephant and the man, the group of animals chosen to head the commission are said to be “gentlemen chosen by God to look after the interests of races less adequately endowed with teeth and claws” (p. 1). Teeth and claws could be seen as symbols for religion and law. The way the sentence is phrased shows that the animals see the man as still having teeth and claws, but just not having ones that are adequate. European colonizers in Africa had the same opinion of the indigenous people they were colonizing: they had religion and laws, but they didn’t have ones that were adequate (i.e. Christianity and Western democratic law).


The hut in this story is a symbol of the land and resources that the European colonizers in Africa stole and destroyed. The first hut is offered by the man to share with Mr. Elephant’s trunk, but is then completely occupied by Mr. Elephant and the man is ejected from it. This mirrors the way that indigenous people in Africa were forced off their land and prevented from accessing resources by European colonizers.

The man and the animals

The man and the animals in this story are symbolic of African people and colonizers, respectively. The different species of animals could be seen as symbolic of the many European countries that colonized Africa. In addition, the different species–when they come together to have their commissions–all support one another in their goals to get more huts from the man, because while they are different species, they only see that they are all animals and therefore “chosen by God” (p. 1).

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