Summary and Analysis of House of Symbols by Akachi Adimora

by Kev

Brief summary of the novel

The house of symbols which does not denote usually what the name seems talks about the happenings in the society and in our life time. Akachi used 2 characters and from them made open the realities of the society. Through eagle woman and her husband, Akachi viewed the world in many perspectives

The novel starts by showing Eagle woman and a man by name Nathaniel Okeke who she was betrothed to. The man kept on showing her with many gifts although she ended up net marrying him. Eagle woman got married to Osai whom she loved so much and one son who died at 6 months of his birth. During the time to Eze Nwaanyi in the village to know the reason for her call, it was confirmed that the girl took after her grandmother that was why she was not able to walk even at the age of 2 after everything, she was taken to Okwudiba who died after sleeping with the girl that night. Things were settled and they went back home. The novel was in the place seen in the house of Ezenwaanyi as house of symbols.

The novel also pictures the life of Eagle woman’s friend Soronje and her husband Moses Akunne who hated Osai so much because of his higher rank as the A.D.O in the office. He made his wife show the same hatred to Eagle woman. Soronje stopped her fish business and started the bread business eagle woman does in order to have an edge over her. As fate may have it, her own bread does not sell as she continues to have some loss of maximizing profit. Soronje grew to hate Eagle woman the novel in the bit of her jealousy Eagle woman and Osai passed through great challenges in the course of their marriage but they were able to overcome them all because of the love and understanding they had on each other.


the novel began with the call of Eagle woman and Osai by Ezenwaanyi to come and visit her with the baby. They kept hesitating until the call came the third time. They decided to visit Ezenwaanyi. It was there they were told that their child Nnenna was the total come back of her grandmother. They were told she has not walked because they asked to take her to Okwudiba. When they got to Okwudiba, she was very happy and welcomed them well. They spent the night in her house after much persuasion. She died the next Morning.

Eagle woman and Osai wed together hoping they would one day have a male son of their own. Soronje on the other hand is Eagle woman’s friend who hated her because her husband of Eagle woman. Soronje stopped fish like she has always done and went to the business of Eaglewoman which is selling of bread but she did not succeed. Osai was the district officer on his office and Moses Akunne his friend was very jealous him that he planned one day to still the money that was meant for the workers in Umuga. Osai bring smart enough charged the position of the money.

Osai and Eaglewoman was liked by many people both in Atagu county and Umucobia because of their generosity she had many people under her care lois who lost her mother and was taken in by Eaglewoman, Simon who helped in the baking of the bread, Angelina and others. She took their as her own children and cares for them.

 After Osai illness, which was treated by Ezenwaanyi, things became well again for them. Before then, they already lost their son at 6 months which made Eaglewoman almost loose her senses. She was later consoled and she moved on with her life Simon later had intention of marrying lets which he shared to Eaglewoman after being exposed by Nnenne.

Soronje lost her son at the end of the end of the novel when she wanted to attack Angelina out of jealousy. She cried bitterly for the great loss.


House of symbols is set in the rural area in Alaqu country and also in Umuga. This novel was written after the coming of the white men (pest conical era). This is made know from the lips of Ezenwaanyi when she made us understand that most people do not even know what they believe in. She being a traditionalist and also believes in Jesus Christian like she often calls him. It was also during pre-colonial era (killing of twins)

Diction / Language

The language used in the novel is simple and moderate.

Point Of View

The novel was written with the omniscient point of view

Mood / Tone / Atmosphere

The mood was that of normal which made the tone ok too. Though in some cases the mood changes from good to sad and also back to normal. The atmosphere created was that of suspense and Zeal or anxiety to know more.


  • Theme of love
  • Theme of jealousy and hatred
  • Theme of denomination
  • Theme kindness and generosity

Theme Of Love

This theme is seen in the life of Eaglewoman and her husband Osai. They loved each other so much and always confided in each other when they cost their only son, we saw how Osai cared about the wife and made sure she lacked nothing and received all the attention she could. He was also known when Osai was ill. Eaglewoman was always by him and took good care of him. The theme of love is also seen on the life of Simon and Lois who loved each other and intended getting married. This there is also known on the life of the children who loved their parents so much and also in the life of Okwudiba who loved Nnenne more than anything.

Theme of Zedoary and Hatred

This is seen in the life of Soronje and her husband Moses Akunne. Moses Akunne was jealous of his friend being the A.D.O and he hated him for that. The hatred also passed on to his wife who in turn hated Eaglewoman and out of jealousy stopped her fish business and engaged in the bread business. Her hatred and jealousy made her lose her son.

Theme of Denomination

This theme is seen in the novel. As a certain point, the Anglicans and the Catholics were like fighting or were against each other. Those Akunne headed the Catholics and persuaded them not to vote for the candidate that is not a Catholics some of the people were brain washed with this and there was a clash. It was as if they were fighting each other. Although that was just a ploy by Moses to get at Eaglewoman and her party

Theme of Kindness and Generously

The novel made open the lend heartedness of Eaglewoman. How she helped many people, gave out bread and honey to them and also assisted them in any little way she could. She also helped Duru in the healing or caring of his ailment. Because of her generosity, she was liked by all on Atagu County.

Characters and Characterization

The characters were opened or introduced on an expository way. The writer through the actions of the character said what they were capable of doing

3 Major Characters

  • Eaglewoman
  • Osai
  • Moses Akunne

2 Major Characters

  • Simon
  • Lois

Eaglewoman: she is the protagonist of the novel. She was bethroted to Nathaniel Okeke when she was young although she ended up not getting married to him. She got married to Osai whom she loved so much. She was blessed with 2girl and one boy who died when we was 6 months. The death of the baby boy rained Eaglewoman so much that she almost lost her senses. She was a very generous woman and cared for many so much. She was a bread baker and her bread named Eagle bread was seen as the best bread in Atagu country. She took good care of her husband during his illness.

She loved and still meant good for her friend Soronje even as she always paid back in bad ways.

Osai: he is the husband of Eaglewoman. He loved the wife so much. He was the A.D.O. he did well in his office. He helped in the employment of his friend Moses Akunne who later turned against him. He fell ill in the middle of the novel and was sick for about 3 months. He was close to death until the wife brought Ezenwaanyi who healed him. He had an instruct one night to go and change the location of the money in the office which he and his colleague Moses had keys to after he did so, there invaded that area.

He was blessed and things kept on moving fine for him. On different occasions, he had tried to patch things up with his friend Moses Akunne but he refused.

Soronje: she is the friend of Eaglewoman, wife of Moses Akunne and she was a fish seller before she out of hatred and jealousy imposed on her by her husband went over to the bread business which did not do well in. She is one of the antagonists of the novel and she was always jealous of her rival Eaglewoman. She lost her son at the end of the novel because of her jealousy and she wept bitterly for that.

Minor Characters

Simon: she works for Eaglewoman and was described as a huge and responsible young man. He helped Eaglewoman take care of her husband when he was ill by doing the shying with Eaglewoman. He later developed the interest in loss and intended to marry her.

Lois: she was picked up by Eaglewoman at one corner with her twin sister dead beside her. This was when the killing of the twins was still in vogue. The white men were not there yet. She was left by the mother. Eaglewoman took her and treated her like her own child and also showered with so much care. She agreed she was going to get married to Simon when Eaglewoman confirmed her.


Symbolism was seen the novel, many cases the Ezenwaanyi used the happening in Atagu county as signs of something. The beating of the drum by someone at night was a sign that he/she wants the person dead.

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