The Go Between

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The Go-Between

What makes a person.into someone of a.specific nationality? Is it the food, the clothes, the language or the geographical location of your birth? It is hard to know where the line is drawn especially when trying to define someone’s nationality when that someone lives by the border between two countries and even harder when that someone lives by the border of two continents. But what if you know deep within that you have been born only a few hours of walking from where you truly belong? And if this is the case, should you not be allowed to go and live with the people of your true nationality; live where you want to live? A short story by Ali Smith, “The Go-Between”, is a great example of a man who seeks what he cannot gain. He, it might even be the writer himself, Ali Smith, lives in the African land Morocco near the border to Spain, to Europe. He describes himself as the “Border Crosser Extraordinaire” (p. 4 ll. 117) and has several times attempted to flee from Africa to Europe. He has lost the top of an ear engaging the escape across the fences on dry land and a finger on underwater barbed wires when trying to swim past the border; none of these times with success. In the end one is uncertain whether he has actually accomplished what he has worked so hard for, but on the face of it we must conclude so: “But not us. Not me. I’m not here. A miracle, no? A real border crossing! I’m speaking to you and I’m not really here!” (p. 4 ll. 117-118). We must conclude that he has gained what he sought to gain; he has actually crossed the borders and entered Europe for good. The story is not just a narrative of a man wanting to go to Europe; it also tells us the way of life for these people living in the camp with the narrator. Their environment is foul: “I think of the girls sitting in the mud at the openings of the tent; they were using hair straightener, beautiful, sitting in the mud, straightening their hair.” (p. 2 ll. 64-66). The level of sanitation...
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