Finding The Light In The Dark: Simile And Similarities

downloadDownload
  • Words 1630
  • Pages 4
Download PDF

Surprisingly, the trauma and devastation of war brings out the compassion within hearts. In Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard, Jim, a teenage boy, grows up in Shanghai, China due to his parents being a part of the British embassy there. He goes to a good school, sings in a choir, and has a nice house, but all of that changes when World War Two breaks out. From his bedroom window, Jim watches the Japanese attack on the U.S.S. Wake and the H.M.S. Petrel. His family tries to flee, but they end up getting separated at a hospital and taken to different concentration camps where Jim struggles to survive over several years. Ballard shows the theme that, people learn the importance of optimism when in a world full of hate, through Jim’s thoughts and actions during his captivity, his interactions with Japanese soldiers, and his reaction to the end of the war.

Ballard uses Jim’s thoughts throughout his captivity to show his optimism even when everything seems to be falling apart around him. The author uses a simile in the sentence, “To Jim, these shabby trophies seized from the houses and nightclubs of Shanghai seemed to gleam with a show-window freshness, like the floors filled with furniture through which he and his mother had once wandered in the Sincere Company department store” (Ballard 206). Ballard uses this simile to compare the broken down condition of the trophies to the freshness and fullness of a department store he had once been in. The comparison made is to show that something so broken and insignificant to anyone else, is like a shiny new treat to Jim. The author uses Jim’s optimism in the moment to characterize him as a wholesome person. Not only is Jim shown being optimistic through his thoughts, but also through the juxtaposition of his actions. Dr. Ransome is waiting for Jim at the hospital but, “On his way to the hospital, Jim paused to do his homework at the ruined

Click to get a unique essay

Our writers can write you a new plagiarism-free essay on any topic

Surprisingly, the trauma and devastation of war brings out the compassion within hearts. In Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard, Jim, a teenage boy, grows up in Shanghai, China due to his parents being a part of the British embassy there. He goes to a good school, sings in a choir, and has a nice house, but all of that changes when World War Two breaks out. From his bedroom window, Jim watches the Japanese attack on the U.S.S. Wake and the H.M.S. Petrel. His family tries to flee, but they end up getting separated at a hospital and taken to different concentration camps where Jim struggles to survive over several years. Ballard shows the theme that, people learn the importance of optimism when in a world full of hate, through Jim’s thoughts and actions during his captivity, his interactions with Japanese soldiers, and his reaction to the end of the war.

Ballard uses Jim’s thoughts throughout his captivity to show his optimism even when everything seems to be falling apart around him. The author uses a simile in the sentence, “To Jim, these shabby trophies seized from the houses and nightclubs of Shanghai seemed to gleam with a show-window freshness, like the floors filled with furniture through which he and his mother had once wandered in the Sincere Company department store” (Ballard 206). Ballard uses this simile to compare the broken down condition of the trophies to the freshness and fullness of a department store he had once been in. The comparison made is to show that something so broken and insignificant to anyone else, is like a shiny new treat to Jim. The author uses Jim’s optimism in the moment to characterize him as a wholesome person. Not only is Jim shown being optimistic through his thoughts, but also through the juxtaposition of his actions. Dr. Ransome is waiting for Jim at the hospital but, “On his way to the hospital, Jim paused to do his homework at the ruined assembly hall” (Ballard 146). Here the author contrasts something so alarming and melancholy as a hospital to his small and insignificant homework. Jim had a prior obligation at the hospital, but he always manages to find time by himself to look around and think through his life. Even when an air strike happens shortly after, Jim’s first instinct is that it’s a false alarm. He is hopeful and unafraid, even when in dire circumstances, because he doesn’t necessarily take a side, he shows kindness to everyone, almost to the point of seeming ignorant to the reader.

The interactions between Jim and the Japanese soldiers also shows how being forgiving helps him stay optimistic. Through the use of imagery, the author explains how Jim’s opinions on the Japanese soldiers changed with the end of the war. After the march to Nantao, Jim find himself alone on the edge of a Japanese airfield when he notices an airman, “He noticed that this Japanese pilot officer was still in his late teens, with an unfortunate face, boneless nose and chin. His shallow skin the prominent knuckles of his wrists told Jim that the schoolboy pilot was as starved as himself” (Ballard 222). With the use of imagery, the author is able to put an image of the young pilot into the reader’s mind. This helps to convey the similarities between Jim and the young pilot. Ballard goes on to explain that Jim was afraid of the pilot at first, but he decided to follow him because he felt connected to him due to their similar circumstances. The pilot acknowledges Jim and eventually gives him a mango and helps him around the airfield. Although Jim was frightened at first, he kept his hopes up because he realized he was just like the pilot. Jim’s optimism and faith in the young pilot after everything the Japanese soldiers have done to him and his friends over the past few years is one of the reasons he survived. After Jim tastes the sweet mango, he starts to think about making friends with the kamikaze pilot and plans on saving him from the Americans. The author then uses situational irony to help lighten the mood after Jim, while almost drunk on the mango’s juice, realizes the notion of teaching the kamikaze pilot to fly is not the best idea, “As for learning how to fly, a kamikaze pilot might not be the ideal instructor…” (Ballard 224). The use of situational irony is meant to lighten the mood. Jim had been through a lot of metal and emotional stress over the past few years, so now that the war is over he’s finally coming upon a stroke of good luck. Ballard adds in an ounce of happiness into the story to show how Jim thinks with and open mind and heart, and he takes the good with the bad.

Finally, Jim’s reaction to the end of the war helps to show his childlike faith and optimism. The author conveys a restless atmosphere throughout the story when Jim repeatedly asks about the end of the war. He often thinks about it when he needs to keep his hopes up, “Too often these days he became light headed. Dr. Ransome had warned him not to run, but the American air attacks and the imminent prospect of the war’s end made Jim too impatient to walk” (Ballard 131). The restless atmosphere is portrayed in this part of the story when Jim is running. He knows he shouldn’t run because he gets light headed, but his fear of the air attacks and hopefulness of the end of the war makes him forget about Dr.Ransome’s warning. As Ballard describes, the inevitable ending of the war is something that keeps Jim optimistic through the novel. Another was Ballard uses Jim’s reaction to the end of the war to display his optimism is through the use of an allusion. After the end of the war, when Jim was making his way back to Shanghai, he stops to think about his favorite magazine, “The thought of appearing in Life exhilarated Jim. He wiped the blood from his mouth and tried to straighten his ragged shirt, in case a photograph were to appear suddenly on the scene…Jim imagined his photograph among the pictures of Tiger tanks and U.S. Marines” (Ballard 258). The Allusion to Jim getting his picture in Life magazine is referring to how much media coverage and press World War Two got. There are many famous photographs of survivors from that era and he hoped to be one of them. This ultimately kept his hopes up and made his excited to get back home to his parents. On his way back to Shanghai Jim started to lose his optimistic outlook on life, because he had been through so much. He wondered why the war was over, yet he still wasn’t home. But the thought of getting his picture in a magazine and people recognizing him is what fueled his optimism.

Jim’s optimism shown through what his thought and did while in captivity, his relationship with Japanese soldiers, and his hopefulness for the end of the war reveals the theme that people learn the importance of optimism when in a world full of hate. Through similes and juxtaposition, the reader can see how while in scary and stressful situations it’s important to look on the bright side. By using imagery and irony, Ballard emphasizes how similar people really are no matter how different they may seem. Finally by creating a restless atmosphere and using allusion, Ballard shows how being optimistic pays off in the end. Empire of the Sun reveals that, in life there will always be a struggle that seems like will never end, but by being optimistic one can overcome any challenge without loosing faith.

image

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.