A brotherhood of Man: Human Rights Essay a brotherhood of man: Human Rights



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A Brotherhood of Man: Human Rights Essay



A Brotherhood of man: Human Rights
Novels can be a powerful way to illustrate what is wrong about human rights even though it’s a novel. “Boy Overboard” reflects on a corrupt government who controls their people and don’t allow freedom.

After reading “Boy Overboard” by Morris Gleitzman, I have realised what people have to go through when human rights is breached by a corrupt government or a government that is power hungry and finds themselves in a place to use it. Gleitzman makes this novel more interesting and stronger because he writes it in the 1st person tone using child narration.

In this novel, I will highlight three main themes. These are: Survival, Conflict, and Asylum. In “Boy Overboard”, the main character, Jamal, dreams of playing soccer at an international level. He wants to introduce to the world kids that can play soccer for their own country. There’s only one problem, Afghanistan is a corrupt and power hungry government. In my opinion, Gleitzman develops his themes extremely well. I think some of the stories in the book he himself may have experienced. Gleitzman also may have friends that have gone through this and they may have told him their experiences.
I think one of the main themes that Gleitzman often refers to is Asylum. Jamal wants to become a soccer player but his country is corrupt and his government doesn’t listen to its people. Gleitzman first brings Asylum into the story when Jamal’s home gets bombed and his parents say it’s too risky to stay in Afghanistan. It is referred to again and again. Jamal is soon extrememly excited to have a new future in Australia. After his father rescues his mother, Jamal’s father bribes the police to take them to the people smugglers.

If you think about what these asylum seekers have to go through, I can understand why they try to seek asylum in other countries illegally. I’m sure that Gleitzman develops this in a dramatic way considering he has many historical novels that talk through child narration (see “Once”).

On Page 91 Jamal is first introduced to going to Australia. ‘It take a moment to sink in. Then the whoop that didn’t come out of me before, comes out now,’ this shows that Jamal never knew about this and is now exposed to it. It also shows Jamal is very excited about this trip. What’s more is that Andrew, a member of the navy, comes to pick them up. He also tells them that there was an election and now the Australians don’t want asylum seekers there.

This theme is developed close to the start of the book where Jamal’s mother is captured for being an illegal teacher. The police bring her to the stadium to get killed because of disobedience to the government. That’s when asylum comes in. Jamal’s parents decide that Afghanistan is no longer safe (not that it ever was). The narrator in this novel narrates in child narration. He tells the story through Jamal’s eyes. He expresses his feelings through Jamal and then through to us.


The second theme that I would like to highlight is Conflict. All throughout the novel there are many different problems that clash and there are countless arguments. The most prominent conflict is between the Government and its people. The Government is power hungry and corrupt. They ignore the peoples needs and all they care about is their money and taxes.

From the very start Yousuf’s Grandfather tells Jamal about this problem.

“Our people are not liked by others of this country” – Yousuf’s grandfather. This shows that there is already a problem between Afghanistanis and other Afghanistanis. All throughout the novel, it is repeated that girls are not allowed to play soccer meaning that the Government actually cares about something but unfortunately not allowing girls to play soccer is a pretty bad law because there are more important things such as people’s lives. Another example is that Jamal’s mother is arrested for running an illegal school. This shows that the government doesn’t want their people to learn anything bad about them or they may not even want their people to learn anything. Conflict is everywhere in the novel most of it is about the government. For one, government soldiers that are armed patrol the streets. Other things included secure bays and mines all over the countryside. This means that the government is corrupt and they don’t want anyone to leave their country because they want to collect taxes and control the people of the country.

I think that this theme was created pretty easily. The fact that in the first chapter of the book there is a land mine suggests the government isn’t at all concerned about the wellbeing of its people. The thought that people are willing to sacrifice themselves for others because of the corrupt government is really unthinkable. We learn from Jamal’s eyes that there are land mines, soldiers, guns and other things that would put terror in the hearts of most people. Gleitzman creates this theme with a lot of detail. Each conflict in the book is written with strength of its own. I think that Gleitzman has thought deeply into this theme because it is written with a lot of conviction and emotion. It makes you think that Gleitzman himself must have lived through this.


The third theme I would like to introduce is Survival. It takes a lot of courage and luck to live through bombs, landmines and soldiers that are armed with guns. How do you do it? No one knows but many people have done it. These people are the people of Afghanistan.

Throughout the story, Jamal and his family have fought to live and to survive the corrupt government. How they have lived through it is a surprise.

At the start of the book, in the first chapter, Jamal and his friends play soccer. The ball eventually gets kicked into a crater by Jamal’s sister, Bibi. Bibi goes to retrieve the ball but steps on a landmine. From that point on, the story starts to develop with the theme of survival in it. Jamal’s mother was kidnapped for being an illegal teacher. The government brought her to a soccer stadium. They were going to kill her. This shows that the government shows little mercy to its people. Surviving was also a hard task on the boat heading towards Australia. ‘Some people were freezing even more than us’ – Jamal. This shows that people would go through lots of suffering to survive and start a new life in somewhere much safer.

I think that Gleitzman develops this theme better than any of the other themes. In this theme it shows how Jamal has to risk his life to save his own family. We see this all through Jamal’s eyes. We feel what he feels and he guides us through his story.


To conclude this essay, I think that Human rights are an extremely large problem to people in and out of Australia. All the people in the world should be treated fairly and be given the same rights. Overall, I think that we are on the way to peace of all mankind but there are still many things we can improve on, many shown in Jamal’s story.
Haolin Wu
July 2010


Haolin Wu Year 8 Cameron House


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