‘Mister Pip’ by Lloyd Jones
Critical essay exemplar at Higher
Choose a novel in which there is a key incident which comes as a real surprise or shock to the reader. Briefly explain what happens in the incident and discuss to what extent the unexpected nature of the incident can be justified by its contribution to your understanding of the text as a whole. _________________
Lloyd Jones’ 2007 awarding winning novel ‘Mister Pip’ is set on the tiny, insignificant Solomon Island of Bougainville during a time in the early 1990s when the island was at war with its government in Papua New Guinea. Jones uses this war and the island’s blockade as a backdrop for the main character’s story. Matilda, ‘a skinny thirteen year old’ islander, is the first person narrator of the novel. In the turning point of the plot Matilda is shocked to discover that her mother Dolores has stolen and hidden the only copy of Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ that her teacher, Mr. Watts, had been reading to her class. The theft of the book also surprises the reader and we then read of how the theft unleashes shocking and tragic events on the main characters,
Papua New Guinea soldiers have come to Matilda’s village looking for Pip whom they believe is a rebel organiser, probably white. Matilda had previously written the name of ‘Great Expectations’ hero Pip in the sand on the beach as she is besotted by this character. When the teacher, Mr. Watts, explains that Pip is fictional he asks Matilda to fetch the book from the school to prove this. However Matilda returns empty-handed as the book is not to be found. As a warning that the soldiers are not to be messed with, they torch the villagers’ possessions and state they will return in two weeks for Pip. Matilda returns to her hut and spots a rolled up sleeping mat pushed into the rafters: ‘unrolled the mat and there was Mr. Watts copy of ‘Great Expectations’. Matilda, like the reader,...
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