The sample essays below are based on one of six essay questions that appears on the specimen Paper 2 (on the OCC):
"Analyze how justice is represented and understood in two works studied."
The responses to this question are based on two literary works: Fiela's Child by Dalene Matthee and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. The second sample is an improvement on the first. Read both samples, compare them and discuss their differences. While reading both samples, remember to keep the assessment criteria for Paper 2 in mind.
The Kite Runner and Fiela’s Child are very similar novels because the have the same justice theme. In the novels there are characters who are discriminated. There are problems in families and the main characters are searching for their identities. This is how justice is understood and represented in these two works.
First of all, the characters Fiela and Hassan are black and Hazara, which means that they are discriminated against in South Africa and Afghanistan. She is a black woman who raises a white child, which is not accepted. The Magistrate takes the child, Benjamin, away from her and gives him to a white woman, which is not fair. Hassan is raped by Assef, who is a Pashtun. Amir is also a Pashtun and he feels guilty for not stopping Hassan from getting raped by Assef. It is also not fair that Hassan is killed for being a Hazara, which happens a lot later in the novel, but it is also an example of how there is discrimination in Afghanistan. Justice is understood as wanting to save these characters from getting hurt or killed.
In both the novels there is a plot twist and the characters are lied to. In Fiela’s Child the man who serves the Magistrate told Berta to pick Benjamin in the line up of lost children who were found. So she knew the whole time that Benjamin was not her son even though he was told to live with them in the forest. She didn’t tell anyone her secret until the end of the novel, making there a plot twist. When we read about this, we are shocked because a part of us thinks that she really is the real mother of Benjamin. There is also a big secret in The Kite Runner. Amir and Hassan are really half-brothers, but they don’t know because the father never told anyone. This is ironic because Amir always wanted to be big and strong like his father. But he found out that his father was not so brave because he had this secret. In both books they lie and that hurts a lot of people in their family.
Finally the other way justice is represented in The Kite Runner and Fiela’s Child is by searching for identity. Amir and Benjamin are trying to find out who they are. It is almost as if South Africa and Afghanistan are trying to find out who they are. Benjamin is looking for the truth about who his real mother is. He asks Barta again and again, but she lies. He goes to live at the sea and runs away from the forest. He is trying to escape from Elias van Rooyen who is the father who wants him to stay in the forest. He falls in love with his so called ‘sister’, which confuses him. He thinks he can’t be ‘Lukas’ because if he was he couldn’t fall in love with her. Then Barta tells the truth and he knows it’s all right to fall in love with her. He knows who he is. In The Kite Runner Amir is also looking for who he is. He runs away too, only he is running away from Hassan who makes him feel guilty for not stopping him from getting raped by Assef. Finally when he goes back to Afghanistan he finds out that Hassan is really his half-brother. Unfortunately Hassan is dead so Amir can’t say sorry, which would make him feel a lot better. But there is another way to get atonement. He can adopt Hassan’s son who is a slave to the Taliban. He rescues him and takes him back to America, where he raises him like his own son. This is how Amir finds his identity.
To conclude justice happens in both novels, but only after the characters find the truth and they are not lied to. The writers are saying that it is not acceptable to discriminate. They want their countries to change and this is why they wrote these novels. Paper 2 SL Sample 1.2 (Fiela's Child, The Kite Runner)
What makes a novel a page-turner? One explanation has to do with justice. Since justice is not always carried out in the real world, readers often want to see justice carried out in fictional worlds. We want the hero to prevail, the villain to perish and the police to be fair and just. For this reason, we find Fiela’s Child by Dalene Matthee and The Kiterunner by Khaled Hosseini intriguing literary works. In these works the notion of justice is represented and understood in the contexts of South Africa and Afghanistan, where racial tension, family ties and personal identity are all issues. Readers of these works want to see the injustices of these societies set right.
At the heart of both novels is a sense that racial discrimination is unjust. In particular there is a character in each novel who represents the oppressed people of their place and time. Dalene Matthee, who wrote Fiela’s Child during the height of apartheid in South Africa in the early 1980s, presents us with Fiela, an African woman who is discriminated against in the late 1880s. She is systematically lied to, ignored and incriminated by the Magistrate and the police. The reader feels sympathy for Fiela because her story is told through free indirect speech, a narrative technique that allows the reader to hear a character’s thoughts. By telling Fiela’s story, which was inspired by true events, Matthee seems to be criticizing the authorities of the society in which she lives, South Africa, for being cruel and unjust. Essentially she is suggesting that South Africa has not changed much in 100 years.
Similarly, The Kite Runner explores the theme of racial discrimination. Just like the state discriminates against blacks inFiela’s Child, the Taliban discriminates against the Hazara in The Kite Runner. The protagonist’s childhood friend, Hassan, is brutally murdered and falsely accused of stealing because he is Hazara. Unlike Fiela’s Child, Hosseini’s tells his protagonist’s story through first person narration. The effect is that the reader feels the guilt of Amir, who has failed to stand up for his Hazara friend. Khaled Hosseini wrote the novel in English from his home in San Jose, while the United States was invading his country of origin, Afghanistan, between in 2001 and 2002. Many people around the world learned about the injustices of the Taliban government through Hosseini’s criticisms of it in the novel, The Kite Runner.
Both novels comment a particular problem created by racism: it breaks up families. For example Fiela is a black woman raising a white foundling, Benjamin. When the state discovers this, they remove the child from her and claim he belongs to the van Rooyens, a white family that lost a child years earlier. They live on the other side of a mountain range. The reader constantly wonders, like Benjamin, if he could have possibly walked through the forest and over these mountains as a toddler. Matthee uses free indirect speech to show us the thoughts and doubts of every character, including Benjamin and Fiela. Then in the final chapters, Barta van Rooyen, Benjamin’s supposed mother and the one character whose thoughts are not exposed to the reader, breaks out crying. She cannot keep her dark secret any longer: The state gave her Benjamin, because the Magistrate found it inappropriate for a white child to live with Fiela and her black family. Just as Matthee shows us how racism leads to broken families and dark secrets, so too do we see a similar issue in The Kite Runner. While the protagonist shares his secret sense of guilt with the reader through direct narration, we do not realize that another character, Amir’s father, holds a secret that tears his family apart. His father had had an extramarital child with the wife of his servant. Hassan and Amir are really half-brothers, which Amir only learns much later in life. Both novels make use of plot twists that shock the reader. Just as it was found inappropriate for a black woman to raise a white child in South Africa in Matthee’s novel, so too would it have been found inappropriate for a Pashtun man to father a child with a Hazara woman. Both Hosseini and Matthee show us how racism leads to secrets that lead to broken families.
It could be argued that both novels are really about a search for identity. As readers, we want Amir to redeem himself of his wrongdoing, and we want Benjamin to find out who his real mother is. However, both characters are prevented from achieving their goals because the state stands in their way. The Taliban murders Hassan before Amir can say sorry. The Magistrate lies to Fiela and tells her Barta van Rooyen is Benjamin’s biological mother. Furthermore both families have dark secrets that prevent these characters from knowing who they are. Barta does not tell the truth, nor does Baba, Amir’s father. It seems that the authors are telling us that justice can only be found once the truth is told. One could fairly say that Benjamin and Amir’s search for identity is South Africa and Afghanistan’s search for identity respectively.
In these literary works, justice can be understood in terms of racial equality and honesty. The authors have employed clever narrative techniques and plot twists to keep their reader intrigued. Both authors were influenced by the times and places in which they wrote. Their commentaries suggest that South Africans and Afghanis can only achieve peace and justice once they cease to discriminate against and lie to each other.