Little Bee: Perceptions of Power
Oil: it powers our cars, planes, and homes; and in all likelihood it was used to generate electricity to power the device from which this essay is being read. Prefer a hardcopy? The ink used to print this page is almost certainly ink made from petroleum. So, as ubiquitous and incredibly vital as oil is, what price is one willing to pay? Chris Cleave’s Little Bee follows the journey of a young Nigerian girl, Little Bee, whose village is massacred in order to turn it into an oil field. After being chased from the remains of her village by mercenaries, she comes across a British couple, Andrew and Sarah O’Rourke, who refuse to hand over the girls to their pursuers. The leader of the mercenaries offers to spare their lives in exchange for Andrew’s middle finger, but at the last moment Andrew refuses, leaving Sarah to sacrifice her finger to save Little Bee’s life. Little Bee escapes to England, where she is held in a detention center. Two years later she is released, and finds her way to Andrew, Sarah, and their son Charlie’s home, where Andrew, already battling depression, kills himself upon her arrival. She lives with Charlie and Sarah, is confronted by Sarah’s lover, Lawrence, and is ultimately deported back to Nigeria. Sarah and Charlie follow her looking for stories of the dispossessed like Little Bee’s to complete Andrew’s unfinished book and advocate for her return to England. These efforts are fruitless, as Little Bee is killed by Nigerian authorities who fear she will speak truth to power. By contrasting Little Bee’s perception of the power of others with the reality of their actual impotence, Chris Cleave conveys power’s subjectivity. Cleave emphasises power’s subjectivity by highlighting skewed perceptions of other characters’ power against the actual reality of their powerlessness. While Little Bee and the other refugees are locked in the detention center, the power wielded by bureaucracy is seen as...
Cited: Cleave, Chris. Little Bee. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2010. Print.
Martin, George R. R. A Clash of Kings. New York: Bantam, 1999. Print.
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