Theme study report – Connections across text

A common theme of overcoming adversity was apparent in each of the four texts we have studied this year. Overcoming adversity is when you overcome a problem or difficult situation. Each character in the different texts overcame their own problems. This theme has been excellently portrayed to the reader or audience and has linked in with each main character in each text, which helps support their point. For example, in my first text, Tomorrow when the war began written by John Marsden, and my third text The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, both of the main characters, Liesel and Ellie, are living in a war zone, and overcome this adversity by writing about it. In my second text, Job written by Dan Preston, and my fourth text, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, directed by Ben Stiller, the two main characters Job and Walter, are both going through a similar adversity. They are both bullied or abused. Walter is bullied at his work by his boss, and Job is abused at home by his mother and her boyfriend. All of these texts and characters can be connected through the common theme of overcoming adversity, as they are all victims of some kind of adversity, and they each begin to overcome it as the story proceeds.

Ellie from Tomorrow when the war began is introduced to the audience as a hard working girl who is still attending high school. She lives on a farm out in the country in Australia. Very little happens in their town, it is just a small village with a few farms. She and her friends decide to go camping for the weekend, and upon their return they find no one left at home. Everything is left exactly as it was, but animals are dying and there is no one to be found, leaving them with the adversity of needing to survive. After a short investigation, the friends find themselves in a war zone and are being required to survive the insurmountable adversity of having to survive in the middle of the beginnings of war. This adversity can be connected across the other texts we have studied this year. For example, the story The Book Thief written by Markus Zusak, is set during the Second World War in Germany. The main character Leisel Memminger has been through a lot of adversity in her short lifetime. After all she has been through, losing her family, friends, surviving bomb raids and a war, she begins to write a story of what happened to her, to help her get through her adversity. “When she came to write her story, she would wonder when the books and the words started to mean not just something, but everything”. This quote accurately describes the way that Leisel felt about writing the book about her life. She uses her writing to help her overcome the adversity of living her life in a war. This can also be compared with Ellie. Ellie is living in a war zone, and she begins to write about her experiences to help her overcome her adversity as well. “Recording what we’ve done, in words, on paper, it’s got to be our way of telling ourselves that we mean something, that we matter. That the things we’ve done have made a difference. I don’t know how big a difference, but a difference. Writing it down means we might be remembered. And by God that matters to us.” This quote from Ellie can be connected with Leisel because they are both writing down their stories to help them get over what they have done, and what they have seen. For Leisel, writing her story is a way to tell someone about her experiences and feelings, because writing and reading is her way of explaining herself. For Ellie, writing is a way to make her feel better about what she did. It allows her to feel like her experiences meant something, and it was not all for nothing. It is because of these similarities, we can compare how each character overcame their adversity. Readers can learn from these adversities, by seeing the way these characters overcame theirs. Although you may not be faced with the adversity of war, writing about your experiences and your own adversities can help you overcome it. This is an important lesson that the reader can learn about Leisel and Ellie’s adversities.

Leisel Memminger from The Book Thief is a young girl from Germany, during World War Two. Her parents are communists and have been ordered to concentration camps. Therefore, Leisel and her younger brother must go to live with a foster family, an adversity neither want to experience. They are on the train ride to their new home with their mother, when her brother dies. They stop the train and two burial diggers, Leisel’s mother, and Leisel herself get off to bury him. Her mother does not say much, she just carries on to the new family, and takes Leisel on her own. They arrive at the foster home, and her mother leaves. Leisel now faces the adversity of losing her family, going to a new place, and having to survive in a new town, in the middle of a war, with no one she knows. She feels very alone in this new place, and does not feel accepted. “No matter how many times she was told that she was loved, there was no recognition that the proof was in the abandonment”. This describes how Leisel was often told she was loved, by her family and her foster family, but they always ended up leaving her when she really needed them. We can see here, that although she knew she was loved, she never really believed it. We can compare this with Job, from the short story Job written by Dan Preston. Job is a young school boy who is a victim of physical and verbal bullying from his mother, her boyfriend, and even his teacher at school. He too faces the adversity of not feeling loved, especially by his family. He lives in New Zealand, and goes to a small school. His best friend’s father is a pastor, and does not agree with his son, Luke, being friends with Job. “We kids, of course, loved him”. This quote shows us that Job was loved by the students, even if he was not loved at home. For Job, he felt as though the students loved him for what he did, making trouble and taking the blame, rather than just for being Job. He took responsibility for trouble at school, and often talked back to the teachers, meaning everyone else got the enjoyment out of his misfortune. When we look at these two texts, we can contrast them to see that they both face very similar adversities. We have two different books, set in two different countries, about two different characters, and yet they both face the same problem of abandonment, and not feeling loved. To overcome this adversity, Leisel often stayed out of sight and out of mind, hoping no one would really notice her. She did not want to grow attached to people who would eventually leave her, so she simply did not participate. Eventually she learnt that that route was not very enjoyable, so she ended up joining in and found people who loved her, and grew to love them back. For Job, it was easier for him to ignore his adversity. He simply accepted that his mother and her boyfriend did not care for him, that his teacher thought he was stupid and everyone else only liking him for what he did. He grew to acknowledge and accept how everyone treated him, rather than speaking up. When we contrast these two texts, the way they overcame their adversity is very similar. At the beginning at least, both characters ignored their adversity, and accepted the feelings of not being loved. This seemed to work for them, as they found less people to grow attached to, and therefore, less people who abandoned them. This also meant they did not enjoy their circumstances and increased the feelings of not being loved. The reader can learn from these adversities that if they feel a similar way to Leisel or Job, they should get more involved rather than less. This will help them overcome their problems by meeting new people, and growing to love them. This is a very important lesson we can learn from Job and The Book Thief about how to overcome our own adversities.

Job from the short story Job written by Dan Preston, is the main character of a short story narrated by his best friend, Luke. It is about the adversities of Job throughout the few short years he lives at home, from the perspective of Luke. Job was an only child of an alcoholic, drug dealing mother, and her abusive boyfriend. He faces the adversity of struggling to feel accepted as his childhood was so different from those of his friends. At home, Job is a victim of domestic violence. “… bruises that popped out by accident from under clothing. Bruises that made adults double-take and then pretend not to look again.” This quote shows us how his friend Luke saw Job’s abuse. It shows us that he thought that Job was just clumsy, and had a hard time not falling over. Job hid what happened to him at home, from his friends, and never mentioned it to anyone else. Other adults had noticed, but no one had done or said anything to help him. At the end of the story, we assume Job lit his house on fire, and alerted the authorities to his situation. He took off with the money from his mother’s drug business, and we assume he moved to Australia, on his own from any time after he is eleven years old. He sends a postcard to Luke several years later from the Gold Coast, where it simply reads “Job done”. He ran away from his adversity to overcome it. We can compare this with Walter Mitty from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, directed by Ben Stiller. When Walter fails to complete his Job of negative assets manager, by misplacing slide 25, his new boss Ted Hendricks starts to question him about it. “Next time I see you, I see the picture.” This is what Ted says to Walter, when he fails to produce the negative. Walter feels that he is facing the adversity of verbal bullying in his workplace. Ted and his colleagues often come up to Walter and make fun of his daydreaming, making Walter feel inferior. This bullying becomes a spark that Walter uses to overcome his adversity. He wants to prove to Ted and his friends that he is a good and honest man, who has never lost a negative. He embarks on a daring adventure across the globe to find his friend Sean O’Connell, who we think still has the negative. We can compare these two texts by seeing the adversity of Job and Walter. Job faces the adversity of physical bullying, and Walter faces verbal. We can look at how each character overcomes these, and find many differences. Job runs away and ignores the problems at home. He travels away to get rid of his horrors at home, rather than standing up and proving himself. Walter, finds it easier to understand his adversity, and physically overcome it, by getting rid of the problem. He goes out to find the negative, and eventually finds it. This stops the bullying, and everyone is very happy with him. From the reader’s perspective, we can learn a lot of important lessons. If you are faced with the adversity of bullying, it would be better to stand up and prove yourself, allowing you to keep you friends and getting rid of the bullies. We can also see that if you are not happy with you circumstances, it is a possibility to simply leave the area and forget about your problems. These are important things we can learn by comparing Job and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Walter Mitty is the main character from the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, directed by Ben Stiller. He is a middle aged man, working for a magazine company called “Life” as a negative developer. He has worked there for 20 years, and had never once lost a single negative. On his birthday, he receives a package from their best photographer, Sean O’Connell, where he gives Walter negative 25, labelled “the Quintessence of life”. The photo is not with the rest, and he must go on an adventure to find Sean, and hopefully find the negative. Walter is not ready for this adversity, and for him, going across the globe to overcome it is a huge fear. He is scared to go to such remote places, on his own, with no idea where to go or where to look. “Life is about courage, and going into the unknown”. This is the motto of “Life” magazine, and helps Walter to make the decision of going on this adventure. Ellie from Tomorrow When The War Began faces the adversity of being scared of what is going to happen to her, her friends and her family. She must take crazy risks to survive and is not always prepared for the sacrifices she must make. When we compare these two texts, we can see several differences in the similarities. For example, both face the adversity of having to survive what they are scared of, but Walter does it by choice – to prove himself, and Ellie must do it through necessity. To overcome these, Walter pushes on through each task he needs to complete to the point where he surprises himself. He did not know how much he could do, whereas Ellie pushes on regardless of how much she thought she could do, because that was the only way she could survive. When we compare these two characters, we can see that Walter’s adversity was more by choice than necessity, and to overcome it he simply got over his fears and apprehension. We can see that for Ellie, her adversity was by necessity rather than choice, and to overcome it, she threw herself into every task that needed doing, whether she thought she could do it or not. It did not matter if she was scared, if she wanted to survive she would have to do it. The reader can learn many important lessons from this, the main one being that you can always do more than you thought you could and it is important to prove yourself. The other one is that when you are in a position of adversity, where it is a matter if life or death, you need to keep going and keep pushing yourself whether you think you are capable or not. Ellie has taught us that the worst thing that could happen is you die trying, and that is a far better option than dying in surrender. These are important things we can learn by comparing the texts The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Tomorrow When The War Began.

Overcoming adversity is a common theme throughout the four texts I have studied this year. In Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, we can understand that when we are faced with something as monumental as war, the best thing to do is to keep pushing on and make the most of your situation. In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty directed by Ben Stiller, and Job written by Dan Preston, we can see that when faced with an adversity such as bullying, you can either stand up and prove yourself, or run away and have a fresh start. These four texts have shown us that the best way of all to overcome adversity, is by sheer willpower and determination. They have shown us that we are always more capable than we think, and it is important to remember this. From these texts, we can all better understand the role of adversity in different situations, and the characters have allowed us to learn the best way to overcome these. The main thing to learn from this is that it does not matter how big or small someone’s adversity is, or even how well they hide it, it is important to understand it may be a big factor to someone’s everyday life and we must not judge people because of it.

By Dharma Bratley

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