Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 4 January 2017

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

In the novel Little Bee, by Chris Cleave, the author writes about a refugee girl and a couple of English citizens who face many struggles as they move on with their lives.Suicide is a big factor on how the character’s separate lives work out. The different reasons for committing or wanted commit suicide could be seen as immoral from the readers’ perspective. The character Little Bee constantly thinks about ways to kill herself when enters new environments and her refugee companion hangs herself while being mentally ill. Andrew commits suicide while being clinically depressed leaving back Charlie father less. Although suicide is widely seen as immoral, suicide can be justified as understandable after acknowledging factors like depression, rationality, and traumatic events however it will affect family.

The idea and act of suicide in Little Bee comes from depression or psychological disorders. There are two separate suicides in Little Bee, in the first one the refugee girl in the barn hangs herself from being psychologically unhealthy and then theres in Andrew’s hanging when he encounters Little Bee. However the major suicide in the novel is Andrew’s death, caused by depression, which ultimately impacts other characters lives. Little Bee says “Some he would shout at himself or hit himself on the head with the side of his fist.

He cried alot. Sometimes he would fall to his knees in the garden and weep for an hour.” Andrew was going through a depressed stage in his life, where he in constant pain and unhappy with his past decisions. Psychiatrist Dr. Charles Raison, professor at University of Arizona states, “Severe major depression is the most unbearable pain a human can withstand for any protracted period of time.” Andrew dealt with a great pain within him for 2 years and his way to forget or escape from the pain was to end his life. His guilt for refusing to give up his finger for the girls haunted Andrew way to long , till the point he could no longer live peacefully.

At the time when committing suicide people lack rationality when thinking. In either case of Andrew or the refugee girl they both lacked good sense. Their reasoning in thought was affected by their depression or mental illness they could have had. In the novel other characters for example, Charlie become aware that his father Andrew is not sane. In a conversation between Sarah and charlie about Andrew it is quoted, “Why don’t you ask your Daddy”,”Daddy is fighting the baddies.” In this scene it is acknowledged that Andrew is not mentally sound causing him to be unaware of what is going on around him.

In his article Peter V. Rabins quotes “Most people with major depression or substance abuse who kill themselves would not meet the criterion of rationality.” If an individual is not sane then their suicide can be justified as acceptable or understandable because their lives were not really under their control. In the novel, Andrew or the refugee girl were not aware how their suicide would affect others or if it was even worth dying for what they were unhappy for. Andrew could not acknowledge that he was leaving back a 4 year old child without a father.

Traumatic events or hurtful memories can be a justification for the desire or action of committing suicide. In Little Bee’s life prior to reaching Sarah and Charlie she lived through horrific situations. Little Bee witness the chopping off of Sarah’s finger ,the death of her sister and then the suicide of her refugee companion. Her fear of going back to her country where death was awaiting her was the source that kept her constantly of thinking about suicide as a way to escape. As Little Bee fears that Sarah would turn her in, she says to herself, “Yes Little Bee, in here you would break the mirror of that medicine cabinet and cut your wrists with the splinters.” Little Bee’s justification for wanting to commit suicide is that she prefers to die her own way than die a cruel death like her sister who was tortured to death.

In the article “Relation between Traumatic Events and suicide Attempts in Canadian Military Personnel” it is stated, “Risk for suicidal ideation and suicide attempts is increased among people who have experienced particular traumatic events.” Suicide could be morally accepted due to the dreadful and unpleasant incidents they lived through. Suicide is immoral because even if it is not intended it still will eventually affect others. In Little Bee the refugee girl’s and Andrews death impact the lives of other characters. The quote from Charlie ,“Yes, because if I not Batman all the time then daddy dies” Charlies response to Andrews death is reveal.

Charlie feels guilty for his fathers death even though he does not really understand how Andrews death happen or why. Charlie was furthermore psychologically affect by the death of his father leading him to continue depending on his batman suit to feel safe or to try an escape his emotions. In the article “The Impact Of Parental Suicide On Child And Adolescent Offspring”, it is said “Child and adolescent survivors of parental suicide may have increased familial risk for mental disorders, suicidal behavior and impulsive aggressiveness”. Even though Charlie at the end of the novel overcomes his dependency for the batman suit he is susceptible to become mentally affected as he grows up without a father and learns how his father died.

Even though suicide could be morally understandable others could argue that it is immoral and there is no possible justification for committing suicide. It can be argued that besides it affecting family it is not religiously right. Father Charles Rubey, a catholic father from Chicago, states “Is my loved one in hell? Are they at peace?”, the families reactions towards suicide victims. It can be debated whether or not God sees the act of suicide as a sin which can lead a person’s soul into “Hell”. Religion is a decisive factor in determining what is moral or immoral which can influence others to disagree with the idea that suicide could be justified.

Father Rubey also adds is idea which is that suicide is an act of desperation from pain not malice , which in Gods eyes is not a sinful act (PBS). At the end of the day suicide is just an uncontrollable decision when the victim is in a state of irrationality. Suicide is just part of life for people who want to express their feelings and let go of life. Suicide could be judged as unacceptable by many but there are many factors which can truly justify these actions. Suicide victims can go through depression or traumatic experiences which are very painful and cause the loss rational thinking. Suicide victims should not be judge in a negative way because they had their reasons to wanting to die or escape from their pain. As long as the world is full with violence individuals will fall into situations where there only choice to relieve their pain is death.

Works Cited
Cleave, Chris. Little Bee. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2010.
Print. Kuramoto, Janet S., and Brent, David A., and Wilcox, Holly. “The Impact Of Parental Suicide O On Child And Adolescent Offspring. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior 39.2 (2009): 137- 151. Academic Search Elite. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.

Rabins, Peter V. “Can Suicide Be A Rational And Ethical Act In Persons With Early Or Pre- Dementia?.” American Journal Of Bioethics 7.6 (2007): 47-49. Academic Search Elite. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.

Raison, Charles “Psychiatrist: I hate suicide but also understand it.” CNN. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. , 21 Aug. 2012. Web 14 Nov. 2012.

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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 4 January 2017

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