The Whale Rider analsyis
The whale rider, in my opinion is far more than just a children’s book, there are many themes that run throughout the book that you generally do not encounter in your stereotypical children’s book, including that of racism, death, sexism, that I feel make it much more than a book primarily for children, moreover there are elements of the book that you could argue are aimed at children, for example the
There are numerous moments throughout the Whale Rider, where racism is encountered, this primarily occurs with Jeff’s mother Clara. When Rawkiri moves to Papua New Guinea with his friend Jeff, Jeff’s mother is not best pleased with her son’s decision to do this and this is expressed from the first moment she meets him
“Although Jeff had told her I was a Maori, it was obvious I was still too dark” and “I could almost hear he wondering, oh my goodness how am I going to explain this to women at the Bridge Club”, Furthermore these are not the only instances of his mother making derogatory comments on Rawkiri due to his heritage/nationality, she is clearly embarrassed by his presence at a wedding and at the reception she says to another guest “He’s a friend of Jeff’s. You know our Jeff, always bringing home dogs and strays”
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In addition to this, there is one major incident in which racism is clearly shown, on the way back from the wedding, there is an accident involving a native man who is run over by Jeff when they are driving, and as Rawkiri goes to get out of the car to check to see if the man is alright, Clara stops him from getting a car saying to him “Its only a native” and after Rawkiri expresses his desire to aid the man like most would, Clara again expresses her thoughts telling Jeff to “leave him there” moreover, when Rawkiri himself tells Nani Flowers that he is going to go to Papua New Guinea, she is displeased and questions his decision saying “Your going where!?, you’ll get eaten up by all the cannibals, this is another example of discrimination and racism.
Such blatant racism such as this, is not what you would generally expect from a book, that is predominantly seen as a children’s book, as the issue of race and discrimination such as this is something you would expect to see elsewhere,
Discrimination is a common theme that runs throughout the book, primarily with regards to the treatment of Kahu by her great grandfather, who from the first instance Kahu is introduced Koro Apirana announces “A girl, Koro Apirana said disgusted” we learn from the outset that her great grandfather is not best pleased that she is a girl, as he states “I will have nothing to with her, she has broken the male line of descent in our tribe” and it says he goes of to sulk in his boat out to sea, such was his displeasure at the fact that she as a born a girl. Therefore we learn that it is going to be an uphill struggle for her.
There are a few passages that detail the fantastical element to this story and nothing else, this I feel is why you could argue about the whale rider being a children’s book, the popularity of books and films that contain this kind of element, including Harry Potter and Narnia are incredibly popular with children, these parts are used as a sort of side story to the actual events that occur and would be popular with children, whereas an older reader may struggle to enjoy this part of the story in which Kahu communicates with the whale towards the conclusion of the story and the passages. The details of the whale’s journey are such examples
The fact that Kahu the protagonist is a child could further add to the argument that it is primarily a children’s book as
The ‘grown up’ issues addressed throughout the book are not the only reason while I feel this book is so much more than just a children’s book, the language and literary techniques used throughout, you could argue are aimed at the older reader, the writer Witi Ihimaera used in depth detailed descriptions especially in his descriptions of the nature aspect to the book,
The use of Maori language in places I feel also prove that it is more than a children’s book, as I feel a child may struggle to grasp why it is that the author uses these throughout and may serve
The culture of the Maori people is addressed throughout and the problems that their tribe are encountering not only at the present time but in the future also. Firstly the fact the family lineage of males has been stopped due to the birth of Kahu, the fact that the heritage and the future of the tribe is under threat weighs heavily on the mind of Koro Apirana who wants more than nothing than to main the stability of the tribe. Another factor that could have a detrimental effect on the tribe is people from the tribe itself moving away to different countries, for example when Rawkiri moves away to Australia and he encounters other Maori tribesman including a woman who is described as being a prostitute, I think the moral of these aspects to the book are to show the security of the living with the tribe and