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To what extent is ‘Empire of the Sun’ a rites of passage novel

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Introduction

Oliver Austin 09 September 2007 To what extent is 'Empire of the Sun' a rites of passage novel One of the many themes in 'Empire of the Sun' is growing up. At the beginning of the book Jim is an optimist, but throughout the length of the book he is transformed, and by the end he has a more realistic view of things. The reader is shown how Jim grows up, through this transformation, and by the end of the novel it is clear that Jim has changed by the way his personality and approach to life has altered. As a young child, Jim has seen some of the devastating results of the war, but seems to be detached from them. One of the first examples that show how lucky he is, is when he asks Vera where her parents lived. ...read more.

Middle

He is also portrayed as childish by the way he rides his bike around the house on page 67. The quote, 'they seemed much younger than Jim, but in fact both were more than a year older,' from the beginning of chapter 15, signifies that in the short time between leaving Shanghai, and arriving at the detention centre, Jim has already begun growing up. The words, 'how much he had changed,' on page 153, also demonstrate that Jim himself was beginning to recognise that he was growing up. By the end of chapter 20, Jim 'could no longer remember what his parents looked like.' At this point, we can see that Jim's experience has definitely made him older and further away from his parents, so much, it seems, that he cannot remember what they looked like. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is also older and wiser, and realises how patient China have been, and he thinks that 'One day China would punish the rest of the world, and take a frightening revenge.' By the end of the book we have a full picture of Jim's difficult childhood. We can see that he has changed from the spoilt child, who goes to fancy dress parties in the middle of a war, and who can't possibly believe that someone could live in a room the size of his dressing room, to a young adult who has graduated from the 'University of Life', and who now realised that China would one day take a huge revenge. This change shows the reader that although thought of as a war novel, 'Empire of the Sun' is actually a Rites of Passage novel, and the war is just the time and place in which the story is set. ...read more.

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