The Nickel Boys Symbols & Objects

Colson Whitehead
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Bones

The bones unearthed on the Nickel grounds symbolize the persistent salience of history, especially with respect to historical tragedies. When present-day archaeologists uncover human remains on the school’s grounds, it becomes evident that staff members had murdered students. These discoveries then prompt former Nickel students to speak out about the horrific abuses they suffered and witnessed while at Nickel. In these ways, the novel emphasizes the necessity of investigating history as a means of learning from it.

Martin Luther King Record

Elwood’s martin Luther King record symbolizes the power of ideas and leadership in spurring social change. After Harriet gives Elwood a record of Martin Luther King speeches for Christmas, Elwood becomes fascinated by the ideas that King expresses in the speeches. These ideas increase Elwood’s awareness of racial dynamics in America, and they motivate Elwood to participate in civil rights protests.

Protests

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This section contains 721 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Nickel Boys Study Guide
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