Death and the King's Horseman

Death and the King's Horseman Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Symbol: The captain and the ship

The captain and the ship symbolize the sacrifice the king's horseman will make for his people.

Motif: Dancing

Dancing permeates the text. It is part of the ritual, and is directly connected to Elesin's suicide. Elesin, the women, and the praise-singer dance to enact the ritual. However, Pilkings and Jane also dance, but their dance is awkward and representative of their outsider status.

Symbol: the egungun costumes

These costumes symbolize traditional Nigerian culture, and are improperly worn by Pilkings and Jane.

Symbol: Elesin

Elesin is a symbol for Nigeria in all of its vibrant culture, vitality, and humbling at the hand of Europeans.

Symbol: Joseph

Joseph symbolizes a Westernized Nigerian, one who has assumed elements of Christianity and Western values but retains some of his own culture. This gives him a sort of 'double consciousness'.