Characterisation is the presentation, description, representation and analysis of the various characters or cast in any work of art; either a play, novel or poetry.

Characterisation is how the characters are created, moulded and presented by a writer. Characters are fictional even when they are not real human beings but animals or inanimate objects, we very well do know what they stand for. It can be said to be the way the author treats his characters or the development of characters in a piece of work.

Characterisation is a word that describes how the author develops the personality of the story characters in a story. A well developed characters is one that has been thoroughly characterized, with may traits shown in the narrative. A well-developed character acts according to past instances provided by its visible traits unless more information about the character is provided. The better the audience knows the characters, the better the characters development. Thorough characterization makes characters well-rounded and complex.

Characterization is also the process of conveying information about characters in narrative or dramatic works of art or everyday conversation. Characters may be presented by means of description, through their actions, speech, or thoughts. There are two ways an author can convey information about a character and they are:

1. Direct or explicit characterisation: The author literally tells the audience what a character is like. This may be done via the narrator, another character or by the character himself or herself.

2. Indirect or Implicit Characterisation: The audience must deduce for themselves what the character is like, through the character’s thoughts, actions, speech (choice of words, way of talking), looks and interaction with other characters, including other characters reactions to that particular person.

Symbolism is when the author uses an object or reference to add deeper meaning to a story. Symbolism in literature can be subtle for obvious, used sparingly or heavy-handedly.

Symbolism is the art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations as:

(a) Artistic initiation or invention that is a method of revealing or suggesting immaterial, ideal; or otherwise intangible truth or states.

(b) The use of conventional or traditional signs in the representation of divine beings and spirits.

A symbol in literature is a thing that suggests more than its literal meaning. Symbols generally do not stand for any one meaning nor for anything absolutely definite, they point, they hint or as Henry James puts it, “They cast long shadows.” It is the use of symbols to represent things especially in art and literature.

Symbols are amazing things that rule our lives. When we over estimate their power, we suffer, when we underestimate their power we suffer.

Symbolism is often used to support a literary theme in a subtle manner. When the symbols, words, objects symbolize things that are not literally portrayed in the literary work, it is regarded to as symbolism.


This project work is aimed at exploring the ways in which characters and symbols contributed to the discovery of insights and meanings in Olu Obafemi’s Wheels and Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s A Grain of Wheat.

§ It is also to understand the concept of characters and symbols by the writers.

§ To promote the knowledge of significance of characterization and symbolism among the students

§ And also to make the text easier to understand.


This project work focuses on the study of two texts of prominent African writers; it is based on the way characterization and symbolism are being used and how the writers were able to achieve these in their text chosen Olu Obafemi’s Wheels and Ngugi Wa Thiong’s A Grain of Wheat.


The two texts studied give us different style used by the writes on characterisation and symbolism. Though, there have been some work on the style, language, characters and symbolism on the two texts being used in this project work, but the authors are from two different countries. So comparing their works expose the level of degeneration in every country in Africa. So this research work is a contribution to review characterisation and symbolism.


The study concerned itself with characterisation and symbolism in Olu Obafemi’s Wheels and Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s A Grain of Wheat and it relied on the close textual reading. Also consulted are textbooks, handbooks and other document relating to the two texts with a critical examination of the texts which also serve as a main source of information. Also, the sourceinclude visiting the website (Internet). The approach used by the author is the Marxist approach.