English Essay - Mr Pip

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English Essay – Mister Pip

Analyse how contrast between characters helped the author communicate an important message or idea.

Mister Pip written by Lloyd Jones is a novel recounted by the protagonist Matilda. Set in 1990’s Bougainville, we see Matilda begin to question her Mother’s traditional idea’s about life as a civil war rages between the rebels and the Redskins in her homeland. Mr. Watts or “Pop eye” is given the role teaching the village children, being the only educated, and consequentially, white man left on the island. He begins reading Great Expectations to the children and Matilda finds herself becoming entranced in white civilisation. She gets immersed in the story of the white boy “Pip” living in London in the 1800’s, very much aware his story is in great contrast to her own. Matilda’s Mother has never been out of Bougainville, she knows little to nothing about the outside world and believes in traditional ideas, holding her ancestry and God dear to her. Through the course of the story we see contrast grow between Matilda and her Mother as their values and interests begin to change and set them apart from each other. We see these differences overcome however when the time comes to stand up for the other, the bond of unconditional love conquering all, the author communicating to us how powerful it can be.

In the beginning of the novel we get the impression Matilda has never challenged her Mother’s values – her roots, her culture and the Bible. Matilda knows no other world apart from her own, never having been fully exposed to other cultures and ideas – “What I am about to tell results, I think, from our ignorance of the outside world”. Matilda becomes familiar with white civilisation when Mr. Watts begins reading the children Great Expectations, learning about the way of life in a culture that greatly differs from her own - “Mr. Watts had given us kids another piece of the world”. She becomes intrigued by Mr. Watts and immersed in the book, entranced by a white boy in the setting of 1840’s London “By the time Mr. Watts reached the end of chapter one, I felt like I had spoken to this boy Pip. This boy I couldn’t see to touch but knew by ear. I had found a new friend.” In contrast, Matilda’s Mother Dolores had never had such a positive introduction to white civilisation. The white world took her husband away from her – “The white men took my Father and her husband away” the white world brought war to her homeland by bringing in the Redskins “The white men were to blame for the blockade ”, the white world took Mr. Watt’s wife, Grace away and gave her back in a state of madness. Dolores cannot see past the bad experiences she had with the white world to see that it could provide Matilda with a better future. The white world to Dolores is a damaging place she doesn’t want her beloved daughter to be part of. She doesn’t let Matilda’s obvious interest in it, as Dolores in contrast never had, stop her from protecting Matilda against it with all she has. She wants Matilda to be safe in the world she knows rather than lose her to a world she is ignorant of – “She didn’t want me to go deeper into that other world. She didn’t want to lose her Matilda to Victorian England”.

Firstly Dolores tries to distract Matilda from the story of Great Expectations and Mr. Watts by trying to get her to learn the names of her ancestors by making Matilda write them out in the sand - “my mum’s response was to reach for our family history and pass on to me all that she knew.” Her ancestors are a very important part of Dolores’s life. It soon becomes clear they are not important to Matilda whereas Pip, an imaginary, yet very real boy in Matilda’s mind is – “I felt closer to him [Pip] than the names of those strangers she made me write in the sand” When Matilda writes Pip’s name alongside her ancestors Dolores becomes angry at what Matilda values – “She gave me a look of pure hate”, the plan to pull Matilda back actually pushes...
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