Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Important Themes (I Am Not Esther Discussion)

Hey everyone! As we are studying this book in class I decided to post some of my work here, as I think some of you may enjoy it, particularly if you've read the book I Am Not Esther. Though I am warning you, this post contains spoilers! Read on if you dare.

School is one of many important topics in the book. At first, Kirby doesn’t even get the chance to go to school, but even when she does it isn’t like any school she’s been to before. When they go and buy her school uniform, she must wear an extra long skirt and is told to wear her hair in a braid with it covered.

This also ties into the characters of Beulah, Damaris and Charity in relation to how they act at school. We never really see Kirby interact with Beulah, but she’s in the background as the girl who tells on everyone and is extremely self righteous, as shown in this quote of Charity talking about Beulah: “She never turns up her skirt, [and] wears her headscarf all the way to school.” Unlike Beulah, Damaris and Charity follow most of the rules, but will not tell on Kirby.

As for teachers, Kirby’s teacher Ms Chandler is quite unsympathetic and weirded out by her ‘eccentric’ religious students. Mrs Fletcher, the school counsellor is much more consoling and helps Kirby out. Kirby’s school life isn’t recounted in full but it is implied that Ms Chandler doesn’t interact with these religious students much and almost sees them as another species.

The relationship between Daniel and Kirby is certainly a curious matter. The first time they speak, Daniel calls her Kirby and this surprises Kirby. While Kirby first sees Daniel is seen as a mini Uncle Caleb, obedient in every way, and Daniel seems to think of her as a little troublemaker, these assumptions change quickly.

As they get to know each other, they realise that they have a lot in common, more than they would’ve thought. When Daniel tells Kirby where her mother’s stuff is, that is the moment she first sees him differently. Later on, they bond more when Daniel gets permission to take the children to the beach. All throughout the book, they help each other in their shared love for the other children.

When they become quite close, Daniel is seen a supportive figure of authority for Kirby, who in turn supports Daniel’s decision to refuse to marry Damaris, ending with them getting kicked out. As they sit outside contemplating what’s happened, Daniel wishes for silence while Kirby wants discussion, showing their differences. What Daniel says then shows Kirby that he doesn’t take this decision lightly and has thought about it for a long time.

For the Children of the Faith, truth is valued. This means most children will not tell lies, but get quite creative with bending the truth. However there are still instances where this trust is abused. Kirby doesn’t have the same values as the Pilgrims, which can cause her to easily defy them when she does things such as not wear a headscarf in public or lie.

The importance of this trust is made clear when Uncle Caleb asks Kirby if she has worn her hair out on her first day of school. Seeing Daniel’s subtle shake of head, she tells the truth, earning this response from Uncle Caleb: “At least you are an honest child.” In other instances, the children dodge questions from Uncle Caleb but avoid lying.

When trust can be abused so easily, it is no wonder that their faith has many flaws, but the same can be said about any situation or organisation. While basing something on trust may be considering naïve by many, there is a certain beauty to it. The truth will always exist whether it be told or not, and in a place the majority of truths are out in the open, there is less room for  deceit.

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