The most significant symbol in the novella The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith is the badminton match that is being played inside the Cambodian embassy. The badminton match can never be seen directly by any of the characters in the story. Instead, people watch the shuttlecock flying above the tall fence of the embassy. This symbolizes the way other characters are outsiders and do not have access to the embassy or the match that is being played inside.
It is also important to note that the two players are unevenly matched, one attacking aggressively, while the other player uses defensive moves to keep the match going:
The shuttlecock floats in a wide arc softly rightward, and is smashed back, and this happens again and again, the first player always somehow able to retrieve the smash and transform it, once more, into a gentle, floating arc.
In this way, the match can symbolize Fatou’s life, and the way unexpected and often bad things keep happening to Fatou, yet...