Moral Confusion in Mister Pip

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Mister Pip written by Lloyd Jones is a story told by Matilda. It is set in the 1990’s on the South Pacific tropical island of Bougainville. The islanders are living in fear in the grip of a civil war rages between the rebels and the Redskins. Mr. Watts or “ Pop Eye” as the children call him, is the only remaining white man on the island and he volunteers to teach the village children. He reads Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations to the children, who are fascinated by it. Matilda is especially engrossed by it and by the story of the white boy “Pip” whose story is a lot like hers. However, Matilda’s mother has never been outside the island that they live on. She knows little to nothing about the outside word and would rather not know about it; since her husband was taken by the white men. She believes in traditional ideas, holding her ancestry and God very dear to her. Matilda and Dolores become emotionally separated as a result of the moral confusion they both are faced with. The differences are overcome however when the time comes to stand up for the other, the bond of unconditional love conquers all. Matilda and Dolores, although forever physically separated, become emotionally reunited.

At 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 and has never been fully exposed to new cultures and ideas. Matilda becomes familiar with the white civilization when Mr. Watts begins reading the children Great Expectations. She learns about the way of life of a culture that greatly differs from her own. She becomes intrigued by Mr. Watts and greatly immersed in the book, which leads to the main moral confusion Matilda faces. “Mr. Watts had given us kids another world to spend the night in. We could escape to another place”. (p23) Through the book Great Expectations, Matilda feels as if she could escape and live in a fictional...
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