KS3 English Assignment Three
Michael Morpurgo explores many themes in his novel Kensuke’s Kingdom. Amongst the prevalent themes is the theme of families. The way Michael Morpurgo describes families is very genuine. His portrayal of Michael’s family is very gritty and realistic. “They’d argue a lot, about little niggly things,”
Michael’s family have good times and bad times. When they go on the Peggy Sue, they are all content which is useful because when you are on a ship you need teamwork. The family are on the yacht together and this makes them grow closer as a unit: “We lived close, all of us, cheek by jowl,”
They also have grim times such as when Michael’s parents lose their jobs at the brick factory: “They were both being made redundant.”
This type of writing style unites the reader and makes them feel empathy for Michael and his parents. Michael’s an only child but he has a dog and friends to keep him company. Stella Artois is his sheep dog and his precious companion when he is first washed up on the island. Even when Michael was on the boat he appreciated Stella’s company. “She was our greatest comfort.”
Stella Artois senses that Kensuke is a friend. Michael is surprised and feels “betrayed” when Stella doesn’t bark at Kensuke and she doesn’t treat him like a stranger. This signifies the friendship and understanding between Kensuke and Stella. It also indicates to the reader that Kensuke is not to be feared. Kensuke had a happy family with a “beautiful wife Kimi” and a son called Michiya, “I was a very happy person in those days” but when the war started Kensuke had to leave his family and join the navy as a doctor. Kensuke cares a lot about family and the orang-utans are like his family because Kensuke loves them: “I have family here, orang-utan family.”
Kensuke chooses the orang-utans over humans. The orang-utans are gentle and Kensuke feels that he must protect them from the poachers. When Kensuke begins to understand how Michael feels without his family he allows him to make a beacon. This shows the impact that Michael has made upon Kensuke. He has made Kensuke realise how important his family is to him and Kensuke finally understands and respects his wishes.
Morpurgo explores how the family cope with the father’s redundancy. It is a hard time for everyone because of the scarcity of jobs. Michael’s best friend Eddie Dodds has to move away too and Michael remarks that “Football just wasn’t the same without him.” The friendship between Eddie and Michael is very strong. When Michael hears he will be moving south he is overjoyed because it means he will be closer to Eddie. Eddie gives Michael a football with his name written all over it “like a World Cup star”. The football represents their friendship and it is Michael’s prized possession, “a talisman.” When the football falls overboard, its upsets Michael intensely. “I knew then I had just lost a great deal more than a football.” The football provides hours of entertainment for Kensuke and Michael too. The universally enjoyed game brings them closer together and they enjoy each other’s company: “What a time we had. Neither of us wanted it to end.”
The friendship of Michael and Kensuke is an interesting one mainly because of the large age difference. Michael describes Kensuke as being “an as old a man as I had ever seen.” Kensuke and Michael are forced into meeting because of the circumstances but a friendship and understanding blossoms. Michael and Kensuke have very little in common: Kensuke is an elderly man and Michael is eleven years old. Kensuke is Japanese and Michael is English. There is a language barrier too but this is overcome. Michael and Kensuke communicate via sign language and drawing in the sand. Later Michael teaches Kensuke English, and they are able to communicate better and learn about each other more: “the long silence in which our friendship had been forged was over.”
Kensuke is like a father figure. He looks...
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