In the novel Beka Lamb written by Zee Edgell, we see that the character Beka Lamb, a young Belizean girl through various flashbacks, has been through many eye opening experiences, which allows her to cope and experience meaningful change, which accurately contributes to the her new found maturity. Edgell is able to portray the various changes of the protagonist by conveying messages through deep figurative language, implementing ironic twists, and using crystal clear examples of visual imagery,. Three events in which we see that Beka is changing are: the cutting down of the bougainvillea, the death of Great Gran Straker, and Beka’s change in views of her education and marital preferences.
The first event in which we see that Beka is changing is the cutting down of the bougainvillea plant. This is seen where Chuku, Beka’s brother mentions their down “cutting down (her) tree”. It is to be mentioned that the bougainvillea plant is symbolic to Beka. The verb ‘cutting’ symbolizes the removal of superficiality and the false sense of identity that Beka once exuded, like the “lush red” plant, and the lessening of the burden her actions had placed on her family. Also, the noun ‘tree’ is symbolic of life and development. Moreover, we see that Beka is said to be growing “wild like that bougainvillea”. This declarative sentence metaphorically explains how the unmanageable growth of the plant coincides with Beka’s fractious, untruthful behavior. The comparative word ‘like’ directly correlates Beka to the plant. The fact that the bougainvillea has growth exponentially to hurt the fence shows how before, Beka’s growing failures hurt her family. Therefore, in order for Beka to truly take responsibility, the cutting of the bougainvillea shows that Beka must then show authenticity, meaning that lying to her parents had to cease, in order for Beka to prove herself appreciative of the effort her family is trying to give towards her life. Furthermore, the novel mentions that at this time, Beka has a “watermelon in her chest”.This metaphor, through the use of the noun ‘watermelon’, conveys the harsh realization Beka comes to when trying to grasp the idea of the plant no longer being there, which then brings about one of Beka’s turning points for her growth and development. Personally, I believe that Edgell, through the theme of change of mind and development, is able to show the reader that showing your true colors is most important.
The second event / instance which shows how Beka is changing is seen in here attitude towards letting Greatgran Straker down. It is very obvious that Beka had a high level of respect for her Greatgran Straker, and couldn’t disappoint her. This can be seen where Beka is “glad that Greatgran (Straker) had died without knowing that she failed first form.”The adjective ‘glad’ ironically expresses Beka’s feelings, as one would expect sadness from a death in the family. This unusual response is triggered from Beka’s regret of not putting her best foot forward in school, and is then glad that she doesn’t have to put one of the people who depended on her so much to pass school through pain; this death is an eye opener to Beka, in the ways she operates at home and in her various situations with Toycie being unruly herself. Moreover, it is to be noted that at Greatgran Straker’s death, Beka then realizes the level of support she had received from her. This is seen where Beka remembers Greatgran Straker saying that she will “walk with (her)” when discussing Beak moving on to another form. This example of foreshadowing shows how Greatgran Straker may have influenced Beka subtly, in order for her to exhibit change; the influence Greatgran Straker left on Beka is too strong for her to continue failing at school. Personally, I believe that the writer shows that Beka is strong enough now to avoid disappointing peole, which shows that she cares about what her loving family thinks of her actions, which shows maturity, even in a tragic circumstance like her Greatgran’s funeral.
The last instance in which we see Beka changing her acceptance of the exercise book and pen from her mother. This is seen where a “package wrapped in green kite paper and tied with a bright red ribbon twirled in a fancy bow”. This example of visual imagery, and the adjective “bright” shows the beautiful nature of the gifts presented, and the foreboding promise or success that can possible com about form Beka utilizing these gifts. Symbolically, these gifts represent the conduit through Beka can change her behavior, in that she has the opportunity to write down her “lies”, and transform them into stories. Moreover, through this gift, Beka is showing immediate respect to her mother. This is seen where Beka says that she will “sit right down and write what (Lila) said.” This declarative sentence shows that Beka now, through her new found disciplinary mechanism, is able to now make her family proud more readily, and is a symbol of her moving on in life. Personally, we see that the writer is able to show how Beka is able to capture her inner strength through writing; if she ever feels conflicted, she has the opportunity to write. In a way, this could be seen as a subtle training mechanism for Beka, which will prevent her from hurting her family again. It is also to be noted, that to get Beka to understand, Lila has to share some of her personal experiences, to get Beka to become more susceptible to change, which can be the main reason Beka takes such an interest; it’s not the gift its self, but the meaning behind the gift.
To conclude, even though these changes may seem separated, they show enhancement in Beka’s life; this enhancement leads to a newly appreciate maturity in the protagonist. We see that Beka has changed after the cutting down of the bougainvillea, after she lets down Greatgran Straker, and after she receives a gift from her parents.