Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Paper

Finally, after weeks of talking about it, I’ve finished the paper. I’ve expressed many of these thoughts before, but here are a few highlights from my “masterpiece”:

  • Although the unifying theme of my paper and the books is genocide, the word—or even concept—is rarely used within the texts themselves. The stories are told from the perspective of children, and they have little, if any, understanding that the conflicts they experience are based on ethnic tensions.
  • “Why” is an ever-present question throughout the literature. The children feel abandoned by both the world and God. Both have allowed these atrocities to happen, and the children have the impression that no one cares about them. Death is their constant companion.
  • The most graphic accounts of the conflicts occur in the literature addressing the Rwandan genocide. Perhaps this is because the violence was so present. Unlike Bosnia, where people were killed by shelling and unknown snipers, those killed in Rwanda were attacked face-to-face by neighbors and friends wielding machetes and other farming tools.
  • Rather than dwell on the death and destruction inherent in genocide, children’s literature on the topic overwhelmingly emphasizes survival. As such, the focus of many of these books is not the conflict itself but escape as many characters seek sanctuary as refugees.
  • Although all of the main characters in these books survive the genocides, they must deal with survivor’s guilt. For these children, being survivors is often more difficult than facing the actual conflicts.
  • Despite their suffering, the children in genocide literature are, indeed, survivors. They have the ability to continue living despite the death that surrounds them and their own unwarranted guilt over surviving.

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