The Prevalent Themes in Fiction: The Chosen, The Kite Runner and Others
The most compelling character is Reuven Malter. This is because he is the one that grows the most and changes. You get to see how his emotions and feelings he was a very fiery character who had a temper. He was always quick to conclusions so that made him more captivating. Some conflicts that Reuben faced were his father’s sickness combined with friendship struggles. Reuven’s father had a second heart attack and was gone. He had no one and felt alone and trapped. In the text states, ”I needed you around for a while. Especially when my father was sick”(Potok 370). This shows how he felt alone. He only had Danny and he was not there when he needed him the most. Some of the ways that the author developed the character through thoughts and actions. Thoughts are used to develop characters because you get to see at the beginning how his thought help characterize him. He has a temper that melts away because he has a big heart. You see this on page 348 where it says, “‘The look on Danny’s face, though, when I saw him for the first time, helped a little”(Potok). This show how no matter how much he wanted to hate Danny his Heart windy let him.
The setting had the greatest effect on the characters. This book takes place in Williamsburg, New York during WWI, specifically in the ’40s. The two main characters are Jewish. Reuven Malter is a Modern Orthodox Jew, and Danny Saunders is a Russian Hasidic Jew. Theses groups oppose each other, and the difference of belief for the aftermath of the war hurts the friendship of the two boys. Their friendship took a long pause because of Reb Saunders beliefs. In his eyes, there was no need for a Jewish state, and Palestine shouldn’t be contaminated. Reuven’s father wanted the opposite and made his point of view known. This cause Reb Saunders to get angry and drive the two boys apart. In the text, it states, “Reb Saunders had not drawn the line at secular literature, not Freud assuming he knew somehow that Danny had been reading Freud but at Zionism”(Potok 332). This displays how the support for a Jewish state tore the friends apart. That was caused by the setting because it had taken place after the war. The pain of the lost friendship was felt by both Reuven and Danny. The theme was also produced by this because it had to do with love and friendship. Reb Saunder loved Danny very much and to keep him safe he brought silence between the two friends. The only thing that Reb wanted to do was to protect his son.
Love is a motif that consistently recurs in the story. The theme that this book has is love runs deep and is shown in many different ways. An example is the love between Danny and his father. They live in silence, but both of them love each other deeply. In the text, it says, “What have you done to me? A mind like this I need for a son? A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want for my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to suffer and carry pain, that I want from my son, not a mind without a soul”(Potok 401). Reb Saunders raised Danny in silence as a way of Representing his love. He wanted nothing more than to then to teach his brilliant son compassion. At the age of four, he read a book about a poor man and how he suffered. He enjoyed the book very much because he realized he had a photographic memory (Potok 401). He did not have empathy for the poor man or try to understand his suffering all he realized, was that he had a great brain. His father knew that his task was to teach his Danial to understand others pain and suffering but make sure that he did not hurt the relationship that he would soon have with god. This is how Reb came up with silence. He loved his son and knew that this could drive him away from everything but no matter what he needed his son to understand emotions. The silence forced Danny to have to figure out on his own what others felt because words were out of the picture. It meant to know what his father was going through he would have to understand what he was feeling, understand the pain, and everything that came with it. Reb did all of this because he loved his son more than anything. He knew the consequences of what he was doing and was willing to lose his son if it meant he would learn to understand the hardships of people. Overall, love is shown in many ways Reb’s way of showing it was by giving his son a soul. He loved his son so much that he was willing to put anything and everything on the line.
In The Chosen, there is a lot of introduction to new vocab that is related to the Jewish religion. This confused me because it took a while to master what word went with which definition. The book does not have consistent speed when it slows down it is hard to keep up. An example is a conversation about Hasidic history. There is a lot of information that is given about the past that confuses. The structure of the story is good. It is split into three parts that represent three different parts of their lives. The first part was the process of their meeting and how they became friends. The next part was about how they grew as people and became closer to each other, and both families were friends with each other and became close. Here they both also started to support each other and learned to trust each other fully. The last part is about their college experience and the struggles that they were going through with school along with the silence that Reb has forced on them. My favorite part of the story that was the end of the war. Two different groups had formed to oppose and support a Jewish state. At this part of the book, I was hooked because I knew that this might affect Danny and Reuven friendship.
In The Chosen, gender played a big role. Men were more respected than women. Women from the Russian Hasidism community had a future partner chosen for them from a young age. Women were also expected to do more housework and were not allowed to go to college. “‘It was a traditional Hasidic wedding, with the men and women sitting separately”’(Potok 376). They followed the same traditions that they had practiced decades ago. Women were inferior to men. Culture is also important throughout the book. Both of the main characters come from a religious upbringing. They are both Jewish but believe in different variations of the same religion. Neither of the boys had a problem with there religious differences, but Reb Saunders did. Towards the end of the book, Reuven’s father openly admits that he supports a Jewish. This causes a problem with Reb Saunder and what others would think of the situation so he put silence between the two friends. Is The Chosen it states, “I hadn’t expected it, but now that it happened I couldn’t believe it. Reb Saunders had drawn the line, not at secular literature, bit Freud assuming he knew somehow Danny had been reading Freud but at Zionism”’ (Potok 332). Reb Saunder could cover up everything his son did to the Hasidism community, but he could not cover up Zionism. He could defend his son’s friendship up until it publicly announced that he believed in the total opposite of what Hasidism stood for.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The most compelling character is Amir because of the craziness that goes on around him. At the beginning of the book, he attracts a lot of attention because of his relationship with his father. He was always trying to get his father’s love but he never could because his father was always more impressed by Hassan the son of there servant. In the text, it states, “I remember you had to crouch to enter the prison cell-sized store, and then had to lift a trapdoor to creep down a set of wooden steps to the dank basement where Saifo stored his coveted kites. Baba would buy us each three identical kites and spools of glass string. If I changed my mind and asked for a bigger and fancier kite, Baba would buy it for me but then he’d buy it for Hassan too. Sometimes I wished he wouldn’t do that. Wished he’d let me be the favorite” (Hosseini 41). This is an example of the craziness that made the main character so compelling. His life is very different than imagined and that immediately attracts attention to him, and hooks you to figure out what other odd things are happening in his life. He has this hope in him that his father will one day love him and that brings more attraction to the character. Also later in the story, discoveries are made and Amir finds out Hassan was his brother. All of this craziness attracts and makes Amir very interesting.
This book takes place from 1963 to 2001 in Afghanistan and the United States. The setting of the story affects the characters greatly. At the beginning of the story, we start in Afghanistan were the time period affects the characters through discrimination. At the time two different types of Muslims lived in Afghanistan. There were the Pashtuns and Hazaras. This affected the characters because Amir is a Pashtun and Hassan is a Hazara which caused an issue to one of the characters. Because of the difference and discrimination against them, Amir would never hang out with Hassan when his Pashtuns friends were around causing him to start thinking of Hassan as less sometimes and act differently toward him and this affected both characters negatively. Amir became too hard on himself for this. He stopped realizing he was just a kid at the time. California affected the character affected the characters Amir and his father because California was the total opposite of Afghanistan and this affected the characters because they started fresh and new lives. They became different people and pursued new things. Baba went from a rich businessman to a gas station worker and Amir became a writer like he always wanted.
One recurring motif in the story was betrayal. You see a lot of betrayal throughout the story and a theme that goes with it is betrayal is a series of activities that cause the end or destruction of relationships. This is proven throughout the story, Amir is constantly betraying those close to him and this destroys his relationships with others. One example was Sorab. Amir was finally getting Sohrab to warm up to him and as soon as he did Amir betrayed him. He told Sohrab that he would never send him back to a foster home and then tells him to go to California he would have to live in a foster home for a while and this broke their relationship. In the text, it states, “I touched his shoulder and he flinched. Drew away. I dropped my hand, remembering ruefully how in the last days before I’d broken my promise to him he had finally become at ease with my touch” (Hosseini 314). Sohrab was close to Amir and was finally starting to get used to him. They were both happy and Sohrab was happy to go to California with Amir. In the end, Amir betrayed him. He broke his promise to Amir which broke their relationship and almost took Sohrab’s life. Amir lost the closest thing he had to a son because he took the wrong actions and destroyed a precious relationship.
The author structured the book very well. He had it nicely paced so that there was never a time that the book was dragging on about something. There were certain parts of the book that got confusing like the time jumps that kept happening. He was just, a kid and all of a sudden the book jumped to when he was eighteen, it took me a while to figure out hat was happening exactly. And another confusing part was the different language that was in the story. Some of the words were translated in the text for you but then some words like “Inshallah” weren’t and it made it confusing until you got the hang of what word means what. The characterization was done very well. For example, Amir was characterized to be a smart and intelligent person who constantly was too hard on himself. n the text, it states, “I toyed with my wedding ring. ‘You’ve always thought too highly of me, Rahim Khan”. ‘And you’ve always been far too hard on yourself.’ He hesitated. ‘But there’s something else. Something you don’t know’ (Hosseini 188). He was always blaming himself for things and thinking that he was the cause for something he didn’t do. As a kid, he blamed himself for his mother’s death. He thought his dad hated him because of his mother’s death. He had a great brain and wrote very well, but always thought he was at fault.
In The Kite Runner, there was a lot of class differences. Amir was a Pashtun who was well-respected because he was a Sunni Muslim, and Hassan was a Shi’a Muslim and also a Hazara. In the text, it states, “In it, I read that my people, the Pashtuns, had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras. It said the Hazaras had tried to rise against the Pashtuns in the nineteenth century, but the Pashtuns had ‘quelled them with unspeakable violence.’ The book said that my people had killed the Hazaras, driven them from their lands, burned their homes, and sold their women. The book said part of the reason Pashtuns had oppressed the Hazaras was that Pashtuns were Sunni Muslims, while Hazaras were Shi’a”(Hosseini 7). Each of the boys was Muslim but had a different background. Pashtuns were the original, and Hazaras were not the came from Mongoloid descent. Hazaras were not ‘real Muslims’ and because of this they oppressed the Hazaras and saw them only as servants. They were expected to be poor and wealthy. Later in the story when Amir lived in California, Hassan’s family was watching there house in Kabul. Because of there class being lower the Taliban thought they stole the house so they killed them. They did not care to check, but because they were Hazaras they couldn’t possibly live in that house all because of class. They were not respected because they were different, which pushed them under because of class. They were less or inferior to Pashtuns all because they were not originally from Afghanistan.
My Ántonia by Willa Carther
The most compelling character is Jim. He automatically is very interesting from the first chapter. You find out that he has lost both of his parents. He is also very different from other boys his age. In the text, it states, “I always knew I should live long enough to see my country girls come into their own, and I have” (Cather 131). This shows how most boys would hang out with kids their age Jim didn’t. He preferred to hang out with country girls. From the beginning, he was very fond of Antonia but as the story goes on, he takes a liking to them all. All the country girls he hangs out with have something in common. They are foreign and older than Jim. He was different. It made him very compelling to see a young boy who is not raised with what is expected. He isn’t “normal” this made him interesting because he wasn’t the stereotype he was brave enough to be different.
The setting of the book is in Black Hawk, Nebraska from 1880 to 1910. This affects and shapes the characters because it is in the country a long time ago. It is in a country setting so it shapes the character to be simple and easy. They were not very open-minded and this shaped the characters to be outgoing and want change. All their lives they were trapped and when they got the chance they came out. They started dancing and drinking. This was not appreciated by the elder. Jim was forced not to do it. Also, the town had a specific picture of what proper lady should be like. This shaped Antonia. She was not very ladylike and because of what everyone said she forced herself to become like everyone else and be more of a lady. She left behind all of her farm work and family because of opinions.
One recurring motif in the story is friendship. A theme would be real friends always find their way back to each other. In the story it states, “’I never like you no more, Jake and Jim Burden,’ Antonia panted. ‘No friends anymore!’” (Cather 87). Antonia and Jim fought a lot but had a good friendship. They would always come back to each other. They are very different and this causes arguments but it never ends their friendship. No matter if it was in their childhood or adulthood they came to each other. They fought quite often and lived far away from each other. They had different lives all together but they were the best of friends. Nothing could tear them apart not even distance and an argument.
The book had a good structure. The book is split into five parts. The first two parts are significantly longer and are mostly based upon his life in Black Hawk and the rest is about his life after college. The characterization of the characters was done very well too. Jim was characterized as a smart, loving, and studious person. You see it because of how much that Jim cares for everyone around him. The book was very slow. There were times where it would draft during their childhood and it made it hard to read for a while. Also, the part of the book that hooked me was when Jim started to hang with the foreign girls more and started to go dancing. You got to see a whole new side of everyone. Jim went from an innocent child to a young adult who made is own crazy decisions. Antonia went from the sweet girl that was a little too shy to the life of the party. This was the part of the story where you saw most of the change in the character and it made it very enjoyable.
In the book class was an issue. Antonia was an immigrant and this caused people to take advantage of her and her family. In the text, it states, “Immediately she pointed to the bank out of which she had emerged and said, ‘House no good, house no good!’” (Cather 22). Because they were foreign they were ripped off for a home. Even Jim’s grandmother said something about it. The landowners knew that the foreigners would not know what the land was worth do they manipulated them. took all of their money and left them with almost nothing. Another issue is gender roles. Throughout the story, it shows that women should be soft and ladylike. Whenever Antonia would do farm work all the women would talk about how the girl was being ruined. She was doing a mans job or becoming masculine. wanted her to be a lady. So much so that they took her out of the farm and had her come to learn to be one.
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