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. Pain is apparent at the beginning of the story. Okeke is just about ready to leave for the University, when he meets up with Veronica for the last time. The symbolism here helps to exemplify what the two characters are feeling and thinking, without the need of using unnecessary words and phrases.
When they meet at the stream, the imagery and symbolism are mostly natural, showing the need for your roots to be remembered and savoured. When you delve into the depths of people’s emotions, their roots, childhood culture and traditions are what fundamentally makes them who they are. Adewale Maja-Pearce introduces her symbols with simple directness: “I snapped a twig and threw it into the water. It bobbed on the current and then vanished from sight. ” In this one sentence alone, for example, the reader can deduce the different meanings for the snapping of the twig.
The twig could represent Okeke, while the tree represents Veronica, the village and all the village culture and traditions. The action of the twig being separated from the tree is a representation of Okeke being separated away from village tradition, culture and, of course, Veronica as he embarks upon a new life and further education opportunities. The snapping of the twig is also Veronica and Okeke being split apart for she will not move or change from her pattern of existence.
As the twig, “bobbed on the current and then vanished from sight”, the symbol represents Veronica and Okeke who are now going their separate ways, she on the river bank, the safety of what she knew, her village and traditions, and he on the stream, being led to something new and unknown, away from the village and tradition. The twig also exhibits the fact that it bobbed on the current, almost as if it were trying to stay, as if Okeke was trying to stay. Finally, however, it reveals to us that the twig floated down the stream and out of her sight, just as Okeke floated down the stream and left.