In The Shadow Of The Banyan Analysis

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Words have a lot of power. They can hurt and kill as Markus Zusak puts it plainly: “The injury of words. Yes, the brutality of words” (Zusak 262). But Vaddey Ratner teaches us that words can have beauty too. In her work of historical fiction, In the Shadow of The Banyan, Ratner eloquently describes the horrors of the Khmer Rouge’s reign and how it affects the lives of the protagonist, Raami, and her family. Raami is a young Cambodian girl from a wealthy upper-class family. Her father, Papa, is a kind and generous prince and his wife, Mama, is loving, strong, and proud. When the Khmer Rouge takes over and strips them of their comfortable lives and luxuries, we see their true colors as they fight to survive. They are also struggling to keep their …show more content…
He believes words can be a coping mechanism for when life gets really difficult: “‘Words, you see,’ he said, looking at me again, ‘allow us to make permanent what is essentially transient. Turn a world filled with injustice and hurt into a place that is beautiful and lyrical. Even if only on paper’” (106). Papa believes that words allow you to hang on to memories, and to create your own vision. He finds it important to imagine, he finds imagination to be a place of happiness and beauty to help balance out all of the “injustice and hurt.” This is a huge contrast from Mama’s thoughts on fictional stories, who explains that the reason she wants a home full of flowers and beauty for her children is because “‘These things are real…Real and concrete. Stories are not. They’re made up’” (222). But Papa believes that stories can help cope with reality, and can make the world “beautiful and lyrical” – which is exactly what he wants for Raami. He wants her to hold onto the beauty in the world, despite the harshness of her surroundings and the brutality of the Khmer Rouge, and he thinks the only way to do this is by leaving her with words and stories. Papa learns that he must sacrifice himself in order to keep his family safe, and when saying goodbye to Raami he says, “’I told you stories to give you wings, Raami, so that you would never be trapped by anything - your name, your title, the limits of your body, this world’s suffering’” (134). While Mama’s stories ground Raami and teach her about the world around her, Papa’s stories give Raami “wings.” He wants to protect her from “this world’s suffering,” and to prolong her innocence. Papa’s stories represent Raami’s naivety, and teach her to escape from the world

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