We all face many challenges and setbacks in life, but it is whether we deal with them properly, that decides whether we move on. If we don’t overcome our challenges and setbacks, we could be dwelling on the one problem for a long time, because the longer we leave a problem to grow, the harder it becomes to deal with. Despite the fact that characters encounter challenges and setbacks throughout the whole novel, its overall message is quite optimistic. The four main challenges which are included in the novel, include death, pain, suffering, and separation. Erich and Vinnie faced the biggest challenges and setbacks out of all the characters in the novel. But eventually, they both summoned up the courage to confront their problems and move on.
Erich for example, was separated from Alice for around nine months and was unable to support her through her pregnancy, because he was looking after his sister in a hospital in Germany who had TB. Later, when Alice died during child birth, Erich was prevented from returning to Australia and his baby girl for a few years by Alice’s parents, as they were the next rightful guardians of the baby. This was one of Erich’s major setbacks, but he didn’t give up on her, and he went to meet her In Australia a few years later, and after some careful consideration, Matilda took Erich’s hand, looked at him, and smiled, showing that she approved of him.
Thomas was another one of Erich’s major challenges, because he made life in the prison camp hard for Erich, by continuously picking on him and trying to catch him doing something wrong. The main reason for this, is that Thomas liked Alice because she was the only female who was in the camp, and because Erich worked with her in the hospital every day, he saw Erich as competition. Erich tried to keep his incidents with Thomas a secret, and by doing this he was making the wrong decision. But he was lucky, because before things could get any worse, his friend Gunter, came out with the truth about Thomas so that Erich would be left alone. One day Thomas finally caught Erich in the act of taking a scalpel from the hospital, and although Erich was just thinking about putting it back, all the evidence was pointing against him. As a punishment, he was put in the Detention cell for a while.
Vinnie had many challenges and setbacks as well, most of which he didn’t quite understand. He basically thought that his life was ruined, because he had a large scar on his face which everyone stared at and talked about, his sister had recently died in a car crash, and his parents wouldn’t talk to him because they thought it was his fault that his sister, Katia, had died. Vinnie ran away from his house to the isolation of the Australian bush, so that he could try and hide from the world and all his problems, and take some time think about what he should do, because he was very confused.
However big or small a challenge or setback may be, great achievements and advantages are almost sure to follow. This idea is shown quite a bit throughout the novel, mainly with Erich. Erich was captured by the British while fighting for the German Army and was sent to a P.O.W. Camp in Australia. He would seen being taken capture as the worst thing that could happen to him in the war, but if he hadn’t been captured and sent to Marinup, he would have never met Dr. Alexander or his granddaughter Alice, let alone learnt all about surgery and medicine during the time after he was appointed as the doctor’s assistant.
Erich, like most others in his country, was brought up to see every single person - from the countries that were fighting against Germany - as an enemy. So it’s no surprise that Erich was absolutely astounded when he saw that Dr. Alexander willingly helped the injured German soldiers, even though his son was killed when fighting...