Every person faces certain challenges from time to time. Sometimes these challenges would take people beyond where they were. By reading Thousands Pieces Of Gold, Novice to Master, Into The Wild, and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, the readers find out that all the main characters in these books face incidents, ideas, people, places, and personal emotions. For example, Lalu, the main character of Thousand Pieces of Gold, had to face new people and new places because she was kidnapped and sold as a slave in America. Morinaga, the main character of Novice to Master, lost everything he had after he came back from the World War II. This incident taught him not to trust people around him and, finally, his life changed after he met Zuigan Roshi. In the book Into the Wild Chris, who was a wealthy young man, donated all his wealth for charity and started his adventure to a place he has never been before. He faced lots of thing that were brand new to him; he met new people and acquired new experiences. Finally, Maya, the main character of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, struggled against racism that she experienced. She was sent to her father’s mother’s place in Stamps, Arkansas, after her parents decided to divorce. All these characters learned something about the world, new places, other people and groups, and themselves.
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The book Into the Wild portraysChris McCandless who gave away approximately $ 25,000 and began travelling across vast territories of America. Later, he abandoned his car and headed to Alaskan wilderness. Before hitching to Alaska he spent several months in a grain elevator as a laborer. His motivations and desire led him to the Alaskan wilderness where he survived about 119 days. During that period he was feeding on edible roots and berries. Although these roots were sweet and nourishing to eat, they later became too tough for him. He attempted to eat the seeds from Hedysarum mackenzii, or wild sweet pea in order to survive. Unfortunately, these seeds contained poisonous substance “alkaloid” that led to his demise (Krakaur 96).
In the novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya, the protagonist, is suffering just because she is of African origin and a female in America. She is in deep trauma caused by the displacement as well as due to her condition in the foreign land. This makes her to develop negative attitude towards herself as she argues that people judge her unfairly just because of her ungainly appearance. She believes that people misunderstand her. She develops fantasies where she perceives herself to be a blond haired as well as blue-eyed girl who had been trapped in “black ugly dream” (Angelou 18). She believes that in due time she will reveal her true identity. Notably, she had experienced social and family displacement from her earlier life. She terms this displacement as “unnecessary insults” (Angelou 36) as they had resulted into several difficulties in her life, especially in her new environment. Moreover, growing up as an African girl was challenging as there was a lot of segregation of the Africans then. She experienced three major challenges: prejudice from the whites, powerlessness as a result of being of African origin, as well as female subjugation in America.
Maya endures several traumas throughout her lifetime. At three she was abandoned by her parents. She lacks physical affection at a tender age. At five she moves to live with Mr. Freeman who does not provide her with comfort. On the contrary, he worsens her condition through molestation and regular rapes. She experiences racism from the whites as Mrs Cullinan tries to rename as well as demean her. She is also mistreated by Dr. Lincoln who states, “I would rather stick my hand in a dog’s mouth than treat your problem” (Angelou 220). This is the highest form of insult. Her fate is sealed as she becomes pregnant at sixteen developing more confusion about her sexuality.
On the other hand, Lalu in the novel Thousand Pieces of Gold lives in absolute poverty throughout her life as her father lost all the money on a risky crop. Her father saw the only way out of their miseery - to sell Lalu to bandits, who will make her a slave and take her to America. In United States, she is forced to become a slave of an old man. She has no rights or freedom in her new condition. As a woman, she experiences several forms of mistreatment just like other Chinese immigrants who were treated like slaves. She struggles for freedom throughout her life. Despite her condition of being a slave, she maintains a hope that one day she will be free. Her dream becomes true when she meets Charlie and gets married (McCunn 120). This marks the beginning of her liberation and happiness. Therefore, her marriage becomes the only source of joy as Charlie sacrifices everything for her to live in the canyons.
Morinaga, in the novel Novice to Master, experienced catastrophic events towards the end of the World War II as he lost all his properties. This forced him to turn to Zen temples for food and shelter. In the end, he was success as he went back to Daishuin temple in Japan. His teacher, Zuigan Roshi, had a great impact on his life as he encouraged him to believe in something again. Notably, he resorted not to believe in anybody again due to the loss he experienced. Virtually, Morinaga became an orphan at a tender age, but he rose to be a head of a monastery in Japan. He states that, “trainings started at 3.00 am and may not end until 1 or 2 am” (Morinaga 84). This changed his life as he learnt the importance of believing in people again.
In conclusion, the main characters in the above analyzed novels faced various challenges as they tried to adjust to their current condition. Indeed, the characters acquire experience through incidences, relations with people and society. Whether the challenges experienced by characters are self-inflicted, as the case is with Chris, or brought by unavoidable circumstances, as in the case of Maya, Lalu and Morinaga, the truth is that new encounters takes people beyond where they were. Some experiences may be dangerous, as in the case of Chris’ demise in the Alaskan wilderness, as well as lead to lifetime problems, such as experienced by Maya.
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