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Monkey Beach Essay

Among the many books and films we have read and watched, I enjoyed Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson and Flight by Sherman Alexie the most. Both protagonists’ go through struggles while making decisions that will affect their own lives permanently. Zits, the main character of Flight, had a lonely and sad life, similar to Lisa from Monkey Beach. I believe that these two characters are similar through more than just misfortunes, but on a physical and a mental level as well. Both characters go through traumatic situations that shape them into sad and angry people. The similarities between Lisa and Zits lives show that character development is strongly affected by surrounding environments as well as the people you involve yourself with. It is clear that these two characters share strong wills, individualism, and experiences of loss. Lisa and Zits both were very strong-minded individuals, that didn’t back down to anyone.

Lisa is a Native American living through a time of racial segregation. Native American woman especially were seen as sluts and inferior beings. Lisa as a kid didn’t realize that her big mouth could really get her into trouble. One specific scene in the novel that really showed Lisa’s strong will to be heard was when she got in trouble in school. In this scene Lisa refuses to read and exert from her class reading when it falsely stated ways of Native Americans. “Lisa? She’d said. Did you hear me? Please read the next paragraph. But its all lies, I’d said… Ma-ma-oo told me it was just pretend, the eating people, like drinking Christ’s blood at Communion. In a clipped, tight voice, she told me to sit down. Since I was going to get in trouble anyway, I started singing Fuck the Oppressors. The class cheered, more because of the swearing than anything else, and I was promptly dragged, still singing, to the principal’s office.”(pg 69). Lisa did what many others would have never dared to do and that was stand up to authority for her own beliefs. After she had been released from the principle she was greeted at home by Mick.

Mick supported Lisa’s ways and continued to influence her continuously throughout the story. Lisa’s immediate family didn’t really follow the traditional ways of Natives. Mick I believe was the person who really developed Lisa’s character into such a strong human. Mick was a very strong person himself, as shown by his participation in the American Indian Movement. Zits also showed his strong will within his own story, especially when he dealt with foster parents. Zits never stayed in one home because of his rude nature. He had no respect for others especially those with authority, which caused him to get into trouble with the law.

Zit got arrested on a regular basis and constantly was on the streets getting into trouble. One specific occasion that Zit’s big mouth got him into trouble was when he Cursed out his foster parents and fled to the streets, eventually winding up in jail. “I’m going to say good morning one more time, he says. And if you don’t return the favor, you don’t get to eat breakfast. Yeah, like that’s a real threat. Yeah, like I haven’t been hungry. Yeah, like I care. Good morning, the foster father says. Fuck you , I say.”(pg 15). Zits disrespect continues throughout the book up until he travels through time and sees how he is not in such a bad situation. Zit’s behavior is caused by his unwillingness to accept help and care from others. As Zits travels through time he experiences other peoples problems and learns that he really doesn’t know everything there is to life.

Although both Zits and Lisa have very resolute character they both undergo death throughout both of their stories. Deaths can drastically change a person’s life for the better or worse but in the case of Zits and Lisa both were affected negatively. Zits experienced the death of his mother at the age of six, and his father had abandoned him and his mother when he was born. Zit was forced to live with foster families and at times they were not the most suitable parents. Many of his foster parents would treat him with disrespect, which may be one cause of his bad behavior. Zits lived with so many different families he really had no sense of his own self and culture.


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