A Topic Of Mentorship In The Mosquito Coast By Paul Theroux And The Book Thief By Markus Zusak
Mentors often assert their dominance over individuals and teach them the morals required to live in society. Through experience and wisdom, these mentors are responsible for changing the course of an individual’s life. These individuals adapt to society and can comfortably live a good life, making mentors obsolete. This is evident in the novel The Mosquito Coast, written by Paul Theroux which depicts a father’s continuous fear of nuclear invasion by an irate, immoral country. He plans to establish a utopian society of his own design. He describes humanity as “mean, they’re cruel, they’re fake, they always pretend to be something they’re not. They’re weak. They take advantage. They’ll be lonely out there. They’ll be scared. Because the world stinks.” His son, Charley, is naive and believes his father is the most brilliant man on earth. Along the way, his father’s continual sheltering from the evils of everyday life are significant because he strictly forbids the same mental mind which he held when he was small. Similarly, the book The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak the theme of death as it illustrates a young girl named Liesel Meminger experiencing many hardships in her personal life. The story emphasizes on a nine-year-old girl named Liesel being able to overcome many tragedies and gaining strength while being adopted by the Hubermanns in Molching, Germany. Her passion for literature is unquestionably huge and she has many mentors who teach her how to live in society, read books, etc. Both the novels show significant aspects as to how mentors can alter the life of an individual. Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief depicts show how mentors must transition to obsolescence for the apprentice to progress meaning that for an individual to grow, their mentor must develop the right relationship and allow him/her to seek their potential.
Early lessons for an apprentice to sit down and listen become confusing and causes an unmeaningful relation between both apprentice and mentor. However, for the apprentice to progress in the beginning, recognition is a key element for mentoring to initiate. The mentor must be able to alter the way the apprentice thinks for anything to begin with. In the novel, The Mosquito Coast, Allie as a young boy doesn’t go to school as his father believes that “It America is a disgrace”. As he refers to America being a disgrace, he strongly hates the American school system as well. But since Allie has to stay home and learn from his father, Allie was told “he grew up with the belief that the world belonged to him and that everything he said was true”. Starting at a young age, Charlie’s mentor, Allie, started raising Charlie and injecting the belief that the morals taught by his father “said was true.” By having the “world belong to him,” he wants Charlie to recognize the fact that Allie is the right mentor designed for him simply because of the way wants to set up Allie to progress. His parenting style is just one of the aspects that is affected by crazy ideas. But because of this style, it allows Allie to recognize and understand his father’s perspective as this contributes to mentoring itself. Similarly, in The Book Thief, it becomes apparent that Liesel has a bad past as her Mom and brother die. However, when she meets her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubbermann, she instantly realizes not only are they parents, but also personal mentors which introduces to recognizing the right mentor. Liesel’s passion for literature becomes evident since the train ride. Although she doesn’t know how to read in the beginning, Hans reads her a book every night. Throughout the times, Liesel starts to “observe the strangeness of her foster father’s eyes. They were made of kindness and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, when seeing those eyes understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot”. Recognition is essential for having the right relation and further progress in mentoring. Between Liesel and Hans, recognition is rightfully achieved because the relation itself isn’t just parent-child. It is portraying that “those eyes understood that Hans was worth a lot” meaning he wasn’t just a normal father, yet a personal mentor. When she would read with Hans, her knowledge would expand because of the new words she learned every night.
Between the two novels, recognition is the key element for the initial plan to establish a basic relationship, which eventually leads to a good mentor to further become obsolete. For mentors to become obsolete in the end, the initial plan is always planned by the mentor in the beginning to further take action. To establish the initial plan, ‘You need to carefully match the personalities of the mentor and mentee. It’s choosing the mentor who is best positioned to help the mentee achieve the desired outcomes from the mentoring relationship’. By doing so, the role of a good mentor is to allow the apprentice to gain independence and give the capacity to carry on without them. In The Mosquito Coast and The Book Thief, it becomes apparent that both mentors are able to change the perspective of how their apprentices view society. The initial plan is to guide their apprentice to reach their potential. To establish a good relationship, the mentor must alter the way the apprentice thinks and allow him/her to follow the mentor’s beliefs. This further progresses into giving the correct morals to the apprentice and later allow him/her to make personal decisions. These personal decisions portray that the apprentice is slowly approaching independence and their respective mentor becoming obsolete.
Between right and wrong, individuals have two pathways in order to further progress in mentoring. For the apprentice to progress, “Mentee “missteps” are avoidable but require recognition and careful monitoring”. If the apprentice fails multiple times, mentors would always assist them in order to give the capacity for the apprentice to continue without them. Distinguishing between right and wrong is essential to truly define a good mentor. In The Mosquito Coast, Charlie as a young boy learned the rights and wrongs upon his father, Allie. When Allie tries to convince Charlie that he wasn’t involved in killing the three men or barring the door up, he wants Charlie to feel he didn’t commit a tragic mistake. Charlie starts to worry because he panics that he himself is wrong. This made Charlie feel “uncomfortable, and Father’s lie, which was also a blind boast, sickened me and separated me from him’. As an apprentice growing up, Charlie would “follows in everything that his father does and does not question him”. The transition from “follow in everything that his father does” to “separate me from him” becomes obvious that Charlie becoming more independent results in Allie to become obsolete. This transition exemplifies that Charlie has the required knowledge to know what is right and wrong for him and allow him to make more personal choices. Similarly, in The Book Thief, Liesel grows up in Germany not knowing what’s right and wrong. After the Hitler Youth parade, Liesel is lost but eventually is found by her father. Her link between personal and political relation is evident because she is frustrated by Hitler who she thinks is accountable for her Mom and brother’s death. She expresses her frustration by saying “I hate him Hitler. He slapped Liesel Meminger squarely in the face. “Don’t ever say that! You can say that in our house, but never say it on the street, at school, at BDM, never!”. Liesel’s hatred towards Hitler causes her to be slapped by Hans. Rightfully so, Liesel identified that her frustration was wrong and in order for her to never say it again, “he Hans slapped Liesel Meminger squarely in the face.” Liesel herself can’t identify what’s right and wrong so her mentor, Hans, must teach her to never say it outside in public simply to protect her. She realizes that her father is correct because of her hatred expressed towards Hitler. This way, a slap by Hans is essential for him to guide her in the right pathway.
The two protagonists in both novels are similar in several ways. Between right and wrong, both protagonists at a young age are developing and understanding the true meaning between the two contradictions. In The Mosquito Coast, Allie develops into society guided by his father. But when Allie uses his morals learned at a young age, he identifies his father is wrong and feels uncomfortable from the lies told by his father. Similarly, in The Book Thief, Liesel is wrong for expressing hatred towards Hitler. Liesel then further along in the book gets guided rightfully by her father Hans and assists her to teach her the right morals. These two events are parallel because one’s mistake and morals learned all contribute to what is right and what is wrong. Allie identifies wrong in his father and Liesel identities wrong in herself. As the two stories progress, it becomes apparent that both protagonists start to make personal decisions which were once guided by their personal mentors. From the mistakes and mentoring that happened in the beginning, the mentor starts to fade away and eventually become obsolete.
A bad mentor can often ruin a relationship between a mentor and apprentice which results in an ineffective experience for the apprentice. This can be best described as betrayal toward their apprentice. However, “Failure to do so may result in negative effects that can weaken the mentee’s ability to advance”. This was significant in both novels because they portrayed how a bad relationship can lead to a negative outcome. For example, in The Mosquito Coast, Polski was telling Charlie a story about a boy named Spider Mooney who lived with his father and never went to school. Spider would steal, kill, etc. Because of his bad acts, he had to be hand gunned. Before getting killed, he bit off his dad’s ear and said, “That’s for makun me what I am”. At the end of Polski’s story, he wanted Charlie to relate his personal life to his father. Spider’s father was his mentor, guiding him through life obstacles as he grew up. The relationship between the father and Spider was significant because failing to raise Spider portrayed he didn’t learn any morals from the start. Because of his father not teaching him any morals, his father can be looked upon as a bad mentor simply due to an ineffective experience for the apprentice to receive. Likewise, In The Book Thief, Ilsa Hermann is the husband of the mayor in Molching. She’d allow Liesel to take her collections of books from the library so Liesel can gain and expand her knowledge. Liesel takes The Whistler however, she yells at Ilsa for being very arrogant because she fired Rosa Hubbermann. Rosa would do her laundry services but because of the war, she wanted to save money, thus canceling the service and betraying Liesel. Liesel’s choice of words become harsh by saying “You and your husband. Sitting up here. Now she became spiteful. More spiteful and evil than she thought herself capable. The injury of words. Yes, the brutality of words”. Liesel at this moment feels betrayed and although in the beginning she felt Ilsa can be the right mentor for her alongside her father, the use of betrayal causes the overall mentoring experience to be ineffective.
In both novels, the protagonists get furious with their respective mentor because of betrayal. This betrayal negatively affects the individual to grow with the wrong morals. In The Mosquito Coast, Spider is raised but isn’t able to receive the morals from his father for him to become obsolete. The act of not raising Spider effectively didn’t begin with an initial plan. Because of this, Spider felt betrayed that he was forced to get hand gunned and this initially was due to not being taught anything starting from a young age. The wrong mentors often are “not strategically placed, is not well thought, of and/or offers poor guidance”. From little to no guidance, Spider was raised without the right morals. Likewise, The Book Thief illustrates Liesel feels betrayed when she finds out Rosa’s laundry services has been cancelled. This betrayal also causes an ineffective relation between the two individuals because the morals and knowledge that Ilsa gave to her by allowing her to borrow the books were used against her. By this, Liesel’s “injury of words and brutality of words”, became Liesel’s tool to use against Ilsa because of betrayal that was shown to her. Between the two novels, betrayal causes anger and a negative affect while the apprentice grows. The guidance from a good mentor allows the individual to grow, however, the guidance from a bad mentor prevents an effective experience for the apprentice. These two contradictions can heavily reflect on whether or not the mentor has done their job. Not providing their apprentice the capacity to continue without them fails to make the mentor obsolete.
The transition from guiding an apprentice to reaching their own potential is the initial plan that the mentor has planned out. If individuals are willing to have faith and have the utmost trust in their mentors, then the mentor can truly realize and believe they have done their job. However, being able to understand the true desires of an individual is essential in order for them to progress and have the will to continue without their mentors. The mentor is responsible for altering the mind of their apprentice in order to form a basic relationship. Often, the morals taught should allow the apprentice to distinguish between right and wrong in order to make personal choices and being able to leave the mentor behind. On the contrary, a bad mentor is likely to create an ineffective experience for the apprentice to grow. In Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, these novels show that a mentor can only be defined as good if their apprentice no longer needs them. This means that mentors must become obsolete as an individual progresses and potential is reached. It is independence that the apprentice gains in order to continue without their mentors. One’s potential can be reached if the right mentor guides them in the beginning and give the apprentice the capacity to continue without them.
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