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The Child Who Wished

In: English and Literature

Submitted By minas
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The Child Who Wished
We live in a globalized world where almost every country is involved with one another. Whether is through trading or war, we’re all somehow constantly connected.
The Western world has used globalization to spread its ideas and values, to even the remotest corners of the world. Especially with the Declaration of Human Rights, it has had a huge influence on other countries and what should be perceived as ethical and human. The idea of assisting each other on a global scale, opening our boarders, providing asylum, and giving all of mankind universal rights, is a beautiful goal. And in some ways, the Western world has succeeded, but you can’t create a global consciousness by making laws and conquer countries, you also have to change the people’s mindset and their way of perceiving each other and foreigners.

The Child Who Wished is novel by the British writer Courttia Newland. The novel revolves around the main character, a little boy from Africa called Ebi, who just moved from Africa to be with his mother in England. The story begins with Ebi’s first day at his new school, where he is met by an uncanny mass of strange faces, which shatters all his courage. With the teachers hand on his shoulder, Ebi is led with tears in his eyes, straight into middle of the schoolyard, where he’s left alone and scared. He is invisible to anyone but three bullies, who starts beating him up while telling the dirty African to go back home. After the incident, Ebi is so afraid of going back to school that he starts wishing for one of the bullies, Lance, to just disappear and leaving him alone. A few days later, Ebi is told that Lance had been run over by a bus and is now dead. Believing that his wish had come true, Ebi uses all his might on concentrating, on wishing the remaining two bullies gone.

Ebi was born with a pale skin, which covered his eyes, nose and mouth. The midwife and her mother firstly thought he was born horribly disfigured, until the mask fell of and revealing the beautiful boy underneath. Since then, Ebi has been told that he was special and the God favored him. Therefore, Ebi is convinced that possess a certain power, especially because everything he wishes for, comes true in one way or another. Ebi is quiet, young boy who is very attached to his mother. Their relationship is strong and close, especially because they only have each other to lean on, in a strange and foreign country. Ebi loves his mother very much and equates her with the meaning of home. Even when he discovers, that being with his mother isn’t enough, he continues on trying to be brave, because he doesn’t want to be parted from her: * “…wishing himself away from his mother was something he could never do”

The story is written by an omniscient narrator, who relates the story to the reader, without being involved in the actual events. The narrator focuses on the problems concerning integration in general, by telling about Ebi’ experiences and the xenophobia he’s met with. The language in the text is very poetic and somehow peaceful. Courttia Newland portrays a lot of chaos in her story, and describes frequently the main characters surroundings and the environment. By using comparisons in the different scenes, she manages to create a silver lining where the two aspects of the story, chaos and stillness, stand in highly contrast to one another, which add a certain elegance and poise: * “Ebi had never seen anything like this colorless rock beneath his feet that looked sapped of life, just like the sky”

The narrators describing of the environment, also serves the purpose of emphasizing the differences between the Ebi’s homeland and England. * “At home, stone could be found in myriad colours… Vibrant reds, sparkling oranges, sandy beige...”

Besides the language, Courttia Newland uses symbolism as an instrument to portray the different mentalities, which Ebi experiences in his meeting with a new culture. The teacher is the first person which Ebi meets in the story. She represents the English government and its good intentions and neutral perceptions towards immigrants. Kindly she tries to get Ebi to interact with the other kids, by placing him alone in the middle of the schoolyard, where he becomes verbally and physically insulted. The teacher therefor symbolizes the political aspect – that even if the system is meeting foreigners with a good intentions and a proper attitude, its failing to protect and hereby successfully integrate them, because of their fellow countrymen’s prejudices. * “She stood up, smiling in sympathy, walking away”

As a counterpart to the teacher, the bullies also play a symbolic role in the story. The represents the marginalization which people are meeting the immigrants with. The bullies are deliberately hurting and suppressing Ebi because of his skin-color and his native country. Because of them, Ebi doesn’t get chance to adapt or adjust to this new society. * “… he saw the tree boys united by matching grins: All right, Jungle Boy?”

Integration of immigrants in western countries today, is an extremely delicate matter. Because the western world has been through an industrialization, we’ve become highly technological developed. We’re experiencing a huge prosperity and with our previous history of colonizing other countries, we’ve perceiving ourselves as being better than those, who are living in lesser fortunate countries. Even though our government has made laws against discrimination and is promoting the idea of equality, society is still caught up on the idea that foreigners is somehow freeloading on the welfare system. The prejudice lies so deep among the people, that it has developed to a xenophobia so intense, that it’s being passed on to the next generation. Even though Courttia Newland is portraying the tree bullies as “the bad guys” of the story, it doesn’t seem to be her intention to create a black and white image. When Ebi’s reaction to the assault, is wishing the bullies away, the author is actually portraying a very serious problem. It’s not intended, that when two cultures meet, one of them have to succumb to the other. If the West wishes to share its values and ideals, with the rest of the world, it has to become accepting and throw away its arrogance. If our perception doesn’t change, conflicts and division of people will just get worse and in the end, there will only be room enough for one of us.

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[ 1 ]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courttia_Newland
[ 2 ]. Page 89 – line 26
[ 3 ]. Page 91 – line 25-26
[ 4 ]. Page 88 – line 17-18
[ 5 ]. Page 88 – line 13-14
[ 6 ]. Page 88 – line 6
[ 7 ]. Page 88 – line 36-37…...

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