Noughts and Crosses Analysis
Novels help authors to explore a range of important issues in society, which Malorie Blackman clearly portrays through Noughts and Crosses. This novel follows the lives and experiences of two characters, Callum and Sephy. Throughout the book Blackman deals with a number of key issues including racism and prejudice, love and friendship and lastly, violent and peaceful protest. These themes are identified through different layers of meaning of her writing using textual evidence. This is conveyed through the narrative techniques of characterisation, structure and language in order to communicate the important messages to the readers.
Blackman has created a world of her own to contrast the society we live in, by using the black race which are often discriminated against in reality but in the novel are the upper high class. By doing this she has challenged our preconceptions and social views, and asked the readers to consider the deep effects of racism and the suffering it causes. Blackman has effectively used a range of narrative to bring her world to life giving the white reader taste of discrimination that many blacks have suffered for centuries, provoking feelings, empathy and understanding which lacks in today’s society. By turning the world upside down, Blackman tries to get her readers to see life in a different perspective more clearly.
The setting is essential in highlighting how severe racism can be in the world Blackman created. It is not until Callum is given the rare opportunity to attend a Cross School do we realise the extent of discrimination and intolerance towards the Noughts. The merging of Noughts and Crosses changes the setting completely, throwing the reader directly into the conflict. The racist views and attitudes of the Crosses are clearly seen on Callum’s first day at school when they are protesting outside Heathcroft High, repeating “No blankers in our school”. The underlying message of the demonstrations is that in this world Callum and his black friend Sephy will have their friendship tested only because of their different ethnical beackground. The type of world created is similar to the system of white exclusivity of apartheid in South Africa during the late 1940’s to early 1990’s.
Blackman is also addressing the different ways people react to situations that they believe are wrong. Some people turn to violence and some are looking in the other direction. Characters like Callum’s mum, Meggie or Jasmine Hadley, can see that life is unfair but they’re afraid that trying to do something about it will be pointless or even dangerous. Some try to work out peaceful solutions to the problem as Sephy does when she joins a political group at her boarding school. Some like Ryan, Jude and Callum turn to violence. The novel conveys the downsides of choosing violence clearly through the effects of the bombing of the Dundale Shopping Centre on the McGregor family and the misery caused to both Callum and Sephy when he gets involved in the Liberation Militia.
However, Blackman tries to make us think about why people turn to violence in the first place. Ryan joins the Liberation Militia because he wants revenge on Lynette’s death. Jude cannot get an education or job, so he turns to violence as the only way he can see of improving his situation and achieving something. Callum joins because he feels isolated and angry and the Liberation Army at least gives him the feeling that he’s not a passive onserver of injustice. Even though the book doesn’t support violence it does suggest that people without any standing in the society and political power may feel compelled to use it to make themselves heard.
The relationship between Callum and Sephy is opposite to the relationship between Noughts and Crosses. Their friendship is warm and intense, despite occasional arguments and the problems they face. They stay close right until the end. When Kamal Hadley asks Sephy to choose...
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