Review, Pages 4 (986 words)
Greed. Fear. Anger. These traits define the human being. No matter how rational, how sensible or reasonable a person can be, these attributes linger about them, silent, like a shadow. In times of peril, when pressure is great, often people are unable to control their savage inner instincts, and these characteristics explode out of them, gripping them tightly, seizing them from the inside, consuming them. When that happens, the human being can become unpredictable and volatile. And with them, follows great sadness.
Many of these traits, and more, are present in the book ‘Faithful Elephants’, causing the lives of three innocent animals to be taken. The protagonists of the story – John, Tonky, and Wanly – are forced to endure such pain, paying for others sins. Despite this, they are still faithful and loyal to their once-loving masters, even though they have been betrayed over and over again by them. Spun from the hands of Yukio Tsuchia, Faithful Elephants begins with a startling bout of activity – it is staged during WWII, at the climax of the war.
The leaders of Japan, afraid of Allied bombings, declared that all vicious or harmful animals were to be killed. Should a bomb detonated near the zoo, the animals might have escaped, and harm the general public. This was enforced in all zoos, and the Tokyo zoo was no exception.
Gone were the tigers, lions, bears, and snakes, all poisoned to death. It gave the zookeepers great pain, but they were kept a stern eye on by the government, and were forced to kill the animals.
Finally it came to the day in which the three Elephants were to die. Due to the fact that the elephant’s were smart enough not to eat poisoned food, and also strong enough to not be effected by poison syringes, the zookeepers decided to starve the animals to death. They could often be seen performing their ‘Bonzai’ trick, which normally would have earned them food and water. Alas, even though the keepers did all they could to try and keep the animals alive, the elephants, as innocent and pure as they were, died later. After inspection, they were found without a single drop of food nor water in their shrunken stomachs.
I personally think that this story reflects how damaging conflict is to people. The Japanese public were hurt, the keepers were hurt, the Elephants, mere animals, were hurt. It displays the voracity of human beings, and their warmongering instincts. I believe that this should never happen again to anyone or anything on the globe. Such damage, as devastating it is physically, strikes a huge mental blow into the minds of commonpeople. Everyone is effected, with us all paying the toll of the wars. Hopefully, this will truly be the ‘war-to-end-all-wars’ and remind the people of earth to strive to solve conflict peacefully, with minimum use of force. Of course, this will be very hard to do, but I have a strong confidence that we will be able to accomplish this goal. During the reading of this book, I was both deeply touched and angered. How could such a horrendous thing happen? Instantaneously, words sprang to my mind as I read on. Betrayal. Devastation. Torture.
These three words burned a hole in my mind, mentally fusing into my thought. It would be less cruel to shoot them, or hang them. Causing them to endure such pain is an unthinkable prospect, something I am sure the zookeepers would agree with. However, this is a valuable lesson to people, as I know people understand. Already, we have formed peacekeeping organizations to promote harmony and tranquility, the most famous of which is the UN. With these considerations in the minds and hearts of our people, I hope that this will teach us that we do not benefit from war. I also must stress how deeply I had thought about another message from the book – the value of life. No mater how large, nor how small, animals and humans alike should all be treated equally. The zookeepers in the book understand this, having treated their animals with respect and care.
Animals have limited lifespans too. We often mistake them as ‘dumb’ or ‘without feeling’. This is not true, as obviously stated by the book. The animals were still loyal to their masters, and were smart enough to attempt to find a way for the masters to feed them, shown by their performance of the ‘bonsai’ trick. As I read the book, I was stunned. I could really feel like I was in the action, with scenes swirling into my mind. The author could really paint a vivid picture in my head, with both detail and suspense. I was also amazed simply because when I had read the book, I had almost begun to believe that I was the main character, I was in the middle of the action. And I am not talking about being a zookeeper, either.
I was imagining I was an elephant. I could imagine their strong, bulky bodies shrinking to dull husks. I could imagine their deteriorating health, their pleading ‘bonsai’ trick performances. I was completely astonished. This book reminds me of another book I read, “When My Name Was Keoko”. In the book, one of the main characters also dies, having being forced into the war. Both the Elephants, and When My Name Was Keoko’s character, die, despite the fact that they are completely innocent. They die simply because of the war, because of other’s greed. Overall, I really loved this book. By fusing a cleverly created plot, real facts, painstaking detail and a good narrative voice into the story, I was captivated by this book. I would personally recommend anyone who would need a good book to read this one, and it is one of the best and most moving books I’ve read in a long while. A great read.