Our modern life is full of different problems which have been touching the publicity for many years. The topics of the wars, political scandals, elections and the great number of other problems pestered the first line of the newspapers and magazines, TV programs and radio transmissions. Unfortunately, this every day routine of the problems deliberately puts us off. From time to time people forget about those problems which are more important, that is children. But children demand our protection and understanding most of all. The theme of insiders and outsiders and their effect on life of children is very popular and one of the most interesting and controversial in modern and classical literature. It is possible to cite the great number of such literature examples. Octavian Nothing written by M.T. Anderson belongs to the kind of books which can disclose completely all problems and describe in what way insides and outsides effect the life of children.
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Octavian Nothing written by M.T. Anderson describes the story of the black slave boy, Octavian and his life way. It is a perfect example of the inners’ an outers’ influence on children and their life. Octavian is an African-American slave, who was born and brought up in luxuries society. In accordance with his own understanding, he belongs to the outstanding and famous family and his mother is a queen. The boy lives in this surrounding, being treated like a real prince, but in fact he even does not realize, that his family is only a part of the so-called experiment the main target of which is to see whether the blacks have the same biological and psychological properties as the whites. The story is the depiction of life, dreams and feelings of a boy, who appears in the society, treating him like a part of the experiment. Later Octavian realized that his own vision of his personality differs from that of a society he lives in. Outsiders have great influence on his life and alter his own feelings about the society and people near him: we avoid our own society, so much as may be avoided. Then we must sit knee to knee. We do not speak…( Anderson, p. 332). As a result, the boy becomes aware of the problems of freedom and self-control, slavery and independence, knowledge and unawareness, which were unfamiliar to him earlier. He learned to love people around him and realized that they can be kind as well as cruel.
Another bright example of dependence, lack of freedom, reappraisal of values and influence of insiders and outsiders upon the child can be found in the book Feed by Anderson. The main protagonist of the book is again a boy, Titus, whose life completely depends on the feed. Like Octavian, Titus lives under permanent control, all his thoughts and feelings are dependent upon the feed: your body control, your emotions, your memory. Everything. Sometimes feed errors are fatal. I don’t know… I could loose… ( Anderson, p.136).
The lack of freedom and understanding from society greatly effects inner state of the character. Titus has hardly lost his girlfriend Violet. This accident helped Titus to realize the effect of outside society on them. The theme of the effect of insiders and outsiders on the life of children can be found in Three Wishes Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis. After reading of novel it is possible to draw a parallel with the Octavian Nothing. In both novels the author touches upon the problem of racism and describes way of life small children. These children live normal and extraordinary lives, with their own hopes and wishes. They have seen the death of their families and destroying of their houses, normal life in piece seems unbelievable for them, although hope for better future is all that they have. They live in violence, constant cruelty and prejudice concerning their race. Society refuses to solve their problems and help them to live normal and full-fledged life: It is scary, being surrounded by people who want to kill us, but we have to have hope ( Ellis, p. 22). This book shows the effect of brutal and indifferent society on the children, their lives, hopes and shows their attitude towards war and its influence upon them. It is one of the best illustrations of neglection, which is widely-spread in present society. This book shows how outer world can break the dreams of those children who just started their life way, but already faced serious problem, like war. Now it is time to touch upon another novel, which is also very closed to the Octavian Nothing. This is the memoirs of a young soldier, Beah, who tries to show his life in the army. This book shows the reader how hard it is to be a child in big, violent and cruel world. The main character wants to show that war can bring up strong personaliy and teaches ti survive in ouer world. Like Octavian, Beah faces the same problem of injustice and violence of the society and their influence upon people. He shows the example of how hard it is to remain a person of faith living in such awful conditions. The boy says that being on war day after day people become more upset and finally become restored to violence… (Beah, p.135).
The article Africa’s Progeny cast Upon America’s Shores by King Wilma depicts life of the kidnapped children, who were forcedly transported to America. The most waful thing is to apear far from native home and close people, who effect your life. Like Octavian’s life their lives are effected with the alien society they are forced to live in (Wilma, p.151). It seems that there is no way out, but it is possible to find one positive moment: difficulties make them stronger. This society is some kind of outside for such children as Octavian and its influence has both negative and positive effects on their development as persons. Although they are enslaved (Wilma, p. 30). Life of children in such conditions and society has some positive results: children become mature and experienced, realizing the value of life and freedom (Cross, p.159). This can be called a school of life, which teaches to find ones way in life and get accustomed to the society which seems unfamiliar to you (Durham, p.12). One more perfect example of effect of outer world is mass media and popular culture, which have great impact on children. They have direct influence on the development of their inner state.
So, needless to say that there are a lot of different inner and outer factors which effect and influence the life of every child. This influence is inevitable and sometimes very important as it helps a child to grow and become more mature and self-possessed due to the freedom of choice and actions. The child-centered allies become a real help for children in this case, as they help children to cope with difficulties which can appear in their lives. Octavian Nothing was presented as bright example of how unity and desire to prove ones intelligence and dignity helps to overcome negative effects of the alien society.
Anderson, Matthew Tobin. Feed. New York: Candlewick press, 2002.
Anderson, Matthew Tobin. Octavian Nothing. New York: Candlewick press. Library Binding edition, 2009.
Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a boy soldier. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008
Cross G. The Cute and the Cool. USA, Oxford University Press, 2004
Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. “Myths of Femininity, and the Negotiation of Adolescence between Two Cultures” from Growing up Girls.” Growing up Girls :Popular Culture and the Construction of Identity July 2005: p.12.
Ellis, Dedorah. Three Wishes Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak. USA: Frances Lincoln Childrens Books, 2007.
Wilma, King. “Africa’s Progeny cast Upon America’s Shores”. African American Childhoods. November 2005: p. 30.
Wilma, King. “No Bondage for Me: Free children in a slave society”. African American Childhoods. 2005: p.151.