Examine the Role of Rawiri in the Whale Rider

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Rawiri plays an important role in the novel which helped unfolding the events, ranging from minor to significant ones. He relates the events in the ‘Whale Rider’ as the role of the narrator, allowing the readers to form judgements and learn about things such as the Maori way of life and the characters through his eyes. He also give us his insights as he highlights themes and issues mentioned, like racial discrimination. Besides that, he is the one who sees the many signs of Kahu’s destiny as the leader of the tribe, piecing up a complete picture of her eventual rise as the leader. Additionally, he is her guardian, always protecting and looking out for her. With his carefree personality, he often provides comic relief especially in times of tension.

As the narrator, Rawiri relates the events through his personal experience and conversations. This allows us to have a deeper understanding of what had happened that lead to the progress of the story. For example, we know what the relationship between Koro and Nanny is unusual yet endearing as they often quarrel in a chidish manner, like during the time Nanny rowed out to sea to get him back when he was out sulking about Kahu’s birth. We also know that Nanny’s headstrong personality is partially influenced by the fact that her ancestor, Muriwai, inspires her to champion the rights of women. All these enable us to know more about the characters and thus understand the reasons behind certain actions these characters make. He also highlights the theme of gender discrimination through Koro’s steadfast opposition to Kahu as he ‘virtually hurled’ her out of the meetinghouse, a place not for females, and told her to ‘go away’ many times, not even considering her as a potential leader even though she displays many outstanding qualities like leadership skills. During his time at Papua New Guinea, he also highlighted the issue of racial discrimination as he himself with the other natives are discriminated and marginalised....
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