To endure is to Conquer
Reading Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: the extraordinary true story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong was an adventure in itself. Nonfiction is among my favorite genres, thus it was a delightful experience to switch from fantasy and science fiction into nonfiction. This tale centers on Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men and their determination to survive. It is an adventurous tale and at times I was cheering for Shackleton and at other times I was rather unsympathetic, asking myself why on earth did he go on this adventure to begin with.
I for one, am fond of nonfiction novels such as this one. This novel deals with facts, based on a true event that took place in the real world. Thus, automatically, I know that we are dealing with real people and real accounts, therefore, I am more curious about what will take place. Furthermore, Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World has wonderful illustration. These photos compliment the story and create a visual/mental picture that dances along with the words. It is also told from the 3rd person point of view, and thus for me, this creates a different feeling, as if there is a third person that is retelling the story, which makes the story more believable and that much real.
As I previously stated, I found myself either cheering/sympathetic for Shackleton and hoping that he will make it or I had this feeling of indifference. Jennifer Armstrong does a great job of providing us with facts about Antarctica and about Shackleton. As we are told, while the world thought that the age of heroic exploration was over, it wasn't. Shackleton was yearning for an adventure. At that time, Antarctica was merely a rumor, an undefined, un seen rumor. It was said that Antarctica was a part of the super continent but it migrated south and it was too cold and too dry. Learning about facts regarding Antarctica had made me more curious, now I want to do more research on that continent and learn more about it. Moreover, the narrator states that countless of ships have been lost on their way there and countless of lives have been lost as well. This fact alone should have deterred Shackleton from taking this journey but he had the urge for exploration and it would later turn into a fight for survival. So should we label him as a hero (one of the first people to try to cross the southern continent- ......Antarctica from one side to the other) or a damn fool?. Perhaps this is the only thing that he knew how to do, and he was good at it. ("Am just as good as an explore, nothing else.")
We are told that Shackleton was a loner as a child, and had a dream to gain fame and fortune. He found his true calling as an explorer. Shackleton boarded a ship known as the Endurance with his crew of 27 men. As Endurance is icebound and sinks, Shackleton and his men must fight through ice, sea and land. As a reader, you have no choice but to sympathies, you become intoxicated with this death mission and hope for the best. Shackleton also realizes his role as a leader and that is what I admire about him. He states that "if you're a leader, a fellow that other fellows look to, you've got to keep going." The entire novel could be said to be a battle of Endurance. It is stated that to endure is to conquer. To endure is to undergo a hardship, to tolerate and to carry on. If we are able to do this, we are true survivors. And that is what Shackleton and his men are, true survivors.
Abdullahi Bashir Book Review
CI 5442 The King's Daughter
11-16-09 Genre: Folklore
The wisdom of the oral tradition
The Kings Daughter is a tale that belongs in the genre known as the Folklore. The title in its original version is Boqor GaBadhissa Laga Soo Doonay. Folklore originates from the oral tradition. This oral tradition is engrained in the culture of the people telling that story of The King's Daughter. That people are the Somali people. The Somali people are known for their power of words, and Somalia is regarded as the nation of poets. There are also musicians and artists, taking on a mighty duty to preserve the value of their culture through the oral tradition.
The King's Daughter is among the tales that derive from the tradition of folklore that are passed down from generation to generation. Such stories differ depending on the audience. Most folklore however are geared towards younger children and adolescents. The purpose of these stories is to teach children a valuable lesson, whether that is to respect their elders or obey their parents or to teach them that lying is not acceptable. Usually animals take on human characteristic in these tales and their mistakes and shortcoming are intended to teach the readers a valuable lesson. However, the character in The King's Daughter were all humans except for the whip. This tale is part of a collection of folklores intended to preserve Somali's rich oral culture and to ensure that it would not be lost in this ever-changing global world.
In The King's Daughter, a very rich king had a beautiful and intelligent daughter. The King ruled a wealthy city that had three roads connecting to the rest of the cities. However, each road presented a rather peculiar problem. The first road had a furious lion that would eat any living thing that passes by. The second road had many thieves that would steal from any traveler and the third road had a whip that would beat whoever came by that road. These extraordinary problems required a solution. Thus, when the King's daughter reached the marriageable age, countless of suitors presented themselves to the king. The king proclaimed that any man who gets rid of those three problems in the three roads would marry his daughter. None of the men were able to solve those problems except for the daughter's lover. Surprisingly it was not the lover who came up with those three solutions but it was the daughter who did. Rather than spoiling those three solutions, the reader should pick up the book and read it on their own. It is an easy read, and it serves as a great bed time story.
The King's Daughter presents to the reader a great valuable lesson. The lesson states that God blesses whomever he wants with knowledge. And it is knowledge not beauty that is more valuable in this tale. Furthermore, this tale is a Somali story and it belongs to them. No single author can claim ownership of this story, it is a product of their ancestors. It is retold in a way that translates the story rather than retelling to fit some other purpose.