What are some good metaphors Ayi Kwei Armah uses in The Healers? I need some quotes that express metaphors throughout The Healers.

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his novel, Armah develops his vision of a return to the unified, united way of life of Africa's ancient times, before divisiveness engendered separate kingships and disunity. Armah sees the great ill of African peoples as disunity and, in The Healer, works out the prose of the novel through an extended metaphor of healing. Consequently the individual metaphors Armah uses in The Healer often employ the language of healing or of growing (Nwahunanya, "The Writer as Physician").

Armah's vision is an end to "division," the beginning of "seed time" and the future "harvest," with a restoration, as Khondlo Mtshali says, of "individual, social and divine purposes" ("Psychopathology and Healing"). Some individual metaphors from The Healer follow.

Damfo teaches Densu that there are "two forces, unity and division. The first creates. The second destroys; it's a disease, disintegration." This is a metaphorical statement of Armah's vision that disunity through division causes disintegration within individuals, societies and cultures.

Damfo says to Densu about Asamoa, who is serving the Asante royaly, that "royalty is part of the disease ... whoever serves royalty serves the disease" and that "kings and chiefs suck their power" from the divided people. Carrying the disease metaphor further, Armah compares ruling families to a symptom of disease by which he means that after division is driven in, individuals set themselves as kings because disunity and disintegration allows for the usurpation of authority. Obedience to these rulers furthers the disintegration. He also means that kings and chiefs have no innate power but that they dishonestly take power from weakened people who are disunified.

Ababio says to Densu "we shall be left by the roadside ... they will grind us ... [to be] less than grains of bad snuff...." The first metaphor compares the conquered people to something worthless left by the side of a road. It gives the picture of the African people as completely valueless and expendable. The subsequent metaphors compare the Asante, awaiting imminent defeat by the British, to grains being ground down to powder, and not to grains valuable for food but to grains of rotted ground tobacco, "grains of bad snuff."

Damfo says of the time ahead of them, "This is seed time, far from harvest time" and "In the future there will be the harvest." He means that with the departure of the British and with the unintentional congregation of African peoples in one spot--dancing a "new dance," each moving to the music in his own way--the renewal of unity and creation can begin; the reclaiming of the traditions of the people can begin. Yet the metaphorical "harvest," the sought after relationship with the way of the ancients, will be generations away.

Read the study guide:
The Healers

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question