Challenge is a major theme in this novel. Ed confronts physical, emotional and intellectual challenges. Which is the most testing of the challenges he faces?
Challenge is described as a difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it (dictionary.com). Markus Zusak’s ‘The Messenger’ constantly refers to this theme by putting the protagonist, Ed Kennedy, through challenges that will test him physically, emotionally and intellectually; one just as challenging as the next.
One of the more physical challenges that Ed faces is his encounter with the Rose boys. Daniel and Gavin Rose, who are brothers, have a tendency to fight a lot and really take each other for granted. Ed’s mission is to try and help them realise that they actually do love each other and will always be there for one another. In order to achieve this, his plan was to pummel Gavin Rose so badly that his brother would come to his rescue. Sadly, for Ed, his plan worked and when he sent word back to Daniel that he had beaten his little brother Ed received a serious beating. While beating him, Daniel Rose threatened “Teach you to mess with my brother” (p.192), which is a positive because it proved that this mission was a success and that all the physical pain Ed had to go through was worthwhile. Trying to decipher the meaning of the message written on the ace of clubs, ‘Say a prayer at the stones of home’, proved to be quite an intellectual challenge for Ed. Decoding this message required him to unlock some childhood memories of his and forced him to really think hard. At first he was completely lost, asking, “How do I find a place that has no face, and nothing to point me in the right direction?”(p.121). Fortunately he found the sign he was looking for and successfully completed his challenge. Undoubtedly, one of the most taxing emotional challenges Ed had to endure was finding out who the messenger was. From day one, Ed was tormented. Every day he would wonder who...
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