Excerpt: A Thematic Review of Ship Breaker by Maddie Collart

The dystopian novel ¨Shipbreaker¨ by Paolo Bacigalupi takes place in the futuristic society of the United States. Nailer is a teenager who scavenges ships on Bright Sands Beach. He has always known a rough life. He has the bare minimum of supplies and safety in his life, and most importantly, he has an abusive father. Throughout this book, the author puts emphasis on the theme that every person’s perception of ‘family’ can vary, and can affect how people treat each other. This concept is shown through the different perceptions of the diverse characters in the story and how they change. These characters have lived in different conditions than each other and have grown up with different threats and people around them. All of these issues factor into their perception of ‘family’ and how this important theme is woven throughout the story.

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Excerpt: Thematic Essay — Ship Breaker by SL. GG

Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, is set in a dystopian version of the Americas. The main character, a young boy named Nailer, and his friend Pima are on a scavenge crew. They scour shipwrecks to find anything worth selling. After a hurricane, Nailer and Pima find a ship that has been washed ashore. As no one else has spotted it, they decide to scavenge it and take the loot for themselves. They find many expensive things, a dead crew, and a girl. The girl, Nita, turns out to be alive, and Nailer and Pima rescue her from her ship. Nita proves to be unbelievably wealthy. This difference in social class provides an insight to one of the many themes of this story. Ship Breaker shows that money, or lack thereof, changes the way that people think, perceive the world, and act on these perceptions. This is important to acknowledge because, when interacting with others, we must remember that their backgrounds and the way they view money and class changes the way they behave towards us and others.

Excerpt: The Impossible Maze by Keela Zambre

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner tells the story of a group of boys– who call themselves the gladers– with no memories of their past who are stuck in a deadly maze filled with moving walls and dangerous Grievers. The only things that they remember are their names and that they were sent into the maze by the Creators, who supply them with the things they need to live and one more boy each month. Over time, the Gladers eventually build a civilization run by the Keepers, a group of boys in charge of each job, and their leader Alby. One day, the Creators send them a girl instead of a boy. She carries a note that says, “things are going to change,” and they do. Soon after her arrival, many strange things begin to happen; grievers begin attacking and they stop getting people. One lesson that this story can teach the reader is that people have different perspectives and they can often lead to conflict and people getting hurt.

One scene that supports this theme is when the Keepers are deciding the fate of the main character, Thomas. Thomas had broken the number one rule– don’t go into the maze at night– and saved the lives of two people. One Keeper, Gally, thinks that Thomas should be punished for breaking the rules. He says, “I officially recommend that we lock his butt in the Slammer [jail].”

On the other hand, Minho thinks that Thomas should be Keeper of the Runners– a very honorable job. Eventually, they get into a fight and have to be pulled apart. This scene shows that when people have different opinions, they may argue or fight about it.
The opposing beliefs between Thomas, the Gladers, and the Creators has caused a lot of conflict and hurt. Fights between the characters broke out because they had different points of view. Almost all of the characters were hurt from these fights. The beliefs of the characters in the story causes both conflict and hurt for everyone.

Excerpt: Ship Breaker vs. Legend by Solo

In both Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi and Legend by Marie Lu, one major theme is the world that our parents are leaving us is not one anyone should have to live in.

Both texts take place in a world where global warming and destruction of land have significantly affected the day to day routine. In Legend large chunks of America are missing, submerged under floods. The floods are a result of the ice caps melting, something that is most likely going to happen in the near future for the real world. In Ship Breaker hurricanes bombard every shore of the world, caused by an increase in ocean temperature. New Orleans specifically has been destroyed and rebuilt more than 3 times after being destroyed by hurricanes. The gulf islands would usually protect New Orleans, but they were destroyed by companies drilling for oil. Both these examples show what could happen to our world if we keep treating it the way we are right now. Another thing that both the dystopian novels share is the significant poor population. The

impoverished people that we meet in Legend live in a place called the Lake district. We also hear of large impoverished populations in many other districts, but there are only several wealthy districts. The large majority of people in the world are impoverished in today’s world, but Marie Lu makes it seem like the ratio in Legend is far more one sided. To add on to that, the government in Legend manufactures plagues, and tests them on the poor people, rapidly killing thousands. In Ship Breaker we meet there is one main population of poor people we hear about. The majority of people there work scavenging ships for any precious metal and barely scrape by, usually going without meals several days. Companies buy the metal and transport it different places for money, which is very profitable, while the people in the ship breaking yards get fraction of fraction of what the companies earn. At one point, Nailer finds a wealthy girl in a crashed ship who is still alive. One of her earrings alone would cost years of work in the ship breaking yards. This shows how willingly the wealthy people throw around their money, while the poor are barely surviving.

But something both texts do differently is the relationship between the rich and the poor. In Legend the rich and the poor share borders living in close proximity. The wealthy people are educated about the poor and know they exist, and are extremely impoverished and often barely surviving every day. But they still do nothing. The rich people often completely ignore the poor, not helping them, and often hurting them, not caring about their lifestyle. In Ship Breaker the relationship is the opposite. The wealthy are completely uneducated about the blood work that goes on in the ship breaking yards. The most wealthy person in Bright Sands Beach, the place where Nailer lives, is someone who was part of the yards until they found and extremely valuable pocket of oil, and snuck it out for himself and sold it. Besides that, no one even remotely wealthy knows about what goes on, or lives nearby. Nita, the wealthy girl Nailer finds, shows complete ignorance to what goes on. She is the daughter to the man who owns one of the companies that buys the scrap for recycling, and think that the company is completely clean, even though they are theoretically buying blood. Both living in range of a large impoverished population and not doing anything, and living in complete ignorance are detrimental and negatively impact society.

In their dystopian texts, both Paolo Bacigalupi and Marie Lu do a phenomenal job highlighting what our world can become. It’s important to remember that the health of the earth is fast approaching a steep decline, and doing whatever you can do stop that is beneficial and needed.

Excerpt: Using Power Unjustly by U.J.

Thematically, it can be interpreted from Animal Farm that when power is misused in a society, the society will become corrupt. Despite Animal Farm originating with good intentions, Napoleon uses his excessive control of Animal Farm to distort it into a corrupt society. If Napoleon had followed the laws and ideas on which Animal Farm is first founded, the dystopian setting of Animal Farm would have never been created. This theme can be seen in the world. The Soviet Union was created with the intention of everyone being equal. However, this resulted in most people became poor laborers and the people that employed the laborers being wealthy and influential. Eventually, the working class lost all connection to politics and the dictators and other powerful figures had total control of what became of the working class. Under Joseph Stalin, people in the Soviet Union were killed for not supporting Stalin and terrorized into obedience. Like in Animal Farm, the condition that people in the Soviet Union lived in worsened when Stalin used his authority to such an excessive extent.

Excerpt: A Force to be Trusted by Sophia Rosenberg

In The Maze Runner by James Dashner, The Flare, a deadly virus, burns up the world, killing thousands, rotting the brains of its victims. Turning some of the world’s brightest into bloodthirsty monsters. Luckily, WICKED has been formed out of the world’s remaining leaders and is sending the world’s only hope, the next generation of teenagers, most of which are immune to the disease killing the world, into The Maze. And WICKED’s plan? The Maze trials, an expansive, ever-changing Maze crawling with Grievers. Hundreds of boys, The Gladers, have already been sent into the maze and have been living there for over two years. They have built an entirely new world for themselves, with the Creators wiping all of their past memory, providing all the supplies needed and sending a new boy each month, except for two, the final two: Thomas, and the only girl, Teresa. First instinct is always a strong first judgment, but it can’t always be trusted, a truth that the Gladers will soon find out.

The door to the Maze closes each night. When Thomas sees Alby and Minho in the Maze, with no hope of getting back to the Glade before the doors close, he knows he needs to help somehow. In the moment, Thomas decides to trust his first instinct, to jump into the Maze to help his unlucky friends. The Gladers have never had a problem with anyone breaking the number one rule: do not go into the Maze unless you are given permission. This rule was created for a reason. No one has ever survived a night out in the Maze with the Grievers, and Thomas’s decision may not have been the best one. But it’s too late now, the boys are trapped in the Maze for the night whether they like it or not. Dashner also uses literary devices such as metaphors to help convey the theme. One example of this is shortly after Thomas jumps into the Maze. “A thick silence followed the thunderous rumble of The Door closing, and a veil darkness seemed to cover the sky, as if even the sun had been frightened away by what lurked in the Maze.” The imagery that Dashner uses in this scene in the text helps to emphasize the gravity of the situation that Thomas puts himself in.

After escaping from the Maze, the Gladers find themselves in an enormous room filled with machinery and about 20 white pods. The room is huge, big enough to fit 20 Homesteads. Soon after their arrival, a woman with brown hair comes into the room, with Galley following behind. As the women started to talk to the Gladers, Gally interrupts. “They . . . can control me . . . I don’t – His eyes bulged, a hand went to his throat as if he were choking. I . . . have . . . to . . .” . Suddenly Gally is pulling something from behind him, a dagger, heading straight for Thomas. All of a sudden Chuck is moving, an instinct that flashes before Chuck’s eyes that he has to follow. Jumping in front of the dagger saves Thomas’s life, but ends Chuck’s. The moment that Chuck sees the dagger start to pummel towards Thomas, he knows that he needs to save him. Thomas is the start of the end, he lead to the escape from the Maze, Thomas seems to be a necessary part of the survival of the Gladers. That very second is when Chuck knows that for certain this first instinct was the right one, one that needed to be trusted.

Excerpt: From Dialogue to Feeling by Gumbo

The emotions that we feel can impact our actions and the way we think- for better or for worse. In “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury, the author shows the emotions of the characters throughout the story by using dialogue to show the emotions of the readers. This dialogue can help to explain the characters’ actions and give the reader a better understanding of the story. “The Veldt” takes place in the Hadley’s homestead, which George Hadley, the father, paid a hefty amount for. The home includes everything a normal house includes, and much more. The Hadleys do what they feel like doing, and don’t do what they don’t feel like doing, such as brushing their teeth, washing themselves, making food and putting clothes on. Things like these are accomplished by the machines that inhabit practically every room in the house. George and Lydia Hadley, the parents of the family, are wondering if all of the automation is really what’s best for their children, or if the children even consider them to be their parents in the first place. Throughout “The Veldt,” Bradbury uses dialogue to show the characters’ emotions.

At the beginning of the story, Bradbury uses dialogue to show the parents’ unease about the technology. After fleeing from the nursery, Lydia is in a state of shock, which is shown when George says “Lydia! Oh my dear poor sweet Lydia” to comfort her. George then has the idea that “Why don’t we shut the whole house off for a few days and take a vacation?” By adding this dialogue, Bradbury communicated to the readers that George Hadley feels like there’s nothing to do with his life, giving the reader hints as to what George ends up doing. Bradbury also uses dialogue to show that the parents feel replaced when Lydia says, “You smoke a little more every morning and drink a little more every afternoon and need a little more sedative every night. You’re beginning to feel unnecessary too.” This dialogue shows that Lydia is in agreement with George that the family needs a “vacation” and that the machines are replacing them. By demonstrating the emotions of the characters through dialogue, Bradbury is able to give the reader a deeper understanding on the reason as to why the parents are uneasy about the technology.

When the children get home, Bradbury uses dialogue to show the intensity of the exchange between George and Lydia Hadley and their children. When George first suggests to Peter that he is considering the idea of shutting off the technology, Peter says, “That sounds dreadful! Would I have to tie my own shoes instead of letting the shoe tier do it? And brush my own teeth and comb my hair and give myself a bath?” By including this dialogue, Bradbury conveys to the reader that Peter is not in agreement with his parents’ stance on the machines, but also that he is scared of having to do the work that the machines have done for him. When George tells Peter to go to bed, Peter ends off the exchange with, “I don’t think you’d better consider it any more, Father.” This line shows that Peter is willing to threaten his father to make his case. By saying this, Peter also shows that he is not likely to change his stance on whether or not to agree with his father. Although It could be argued that Peter was just upset and ended up threatening his father as a result, but his anger persists to the point where Peter and wendy end up killing their parents, showing that Peter was serious about his threat, although his anger certainly didn’t help.

When the psychologist, David McClean arrives, Bradbury is able to shine some light on McClean’s opinion on the matter through dialogue. After George and Lydia show David the nursery, David says, “You’ve let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents.” This dialogue not only confirms the parent’s suspicions, but it also shows that the psychologist agrees with the parents about shutting the machines off. David also shows that he’s uncomfortable just by being in the nursery by saying, “Let’s get out of here. I never have cared for these damned rooms. Make me nervous.” This dialogue helps to tell the reader not only that the nursery can project images that seem real, but also that George and Lydia aren’t the only ones who are scared of the nursery.

Throughout “The Veldt,” Bradbury uses dialogue to show the emotions of the characters and leave the reader with a better understanding of how the characters are feeling. By using dialogue, Bradbury was able to escalate the tensions between the characters. In the end, Peter and Wendy’s emotions got the best of them, which ended in their parent’s demise. At first, the life of the Hadley family seems to be nearly perfect. But after looking further into it, their lives start to seem dull, and the characters’ actions show that their lives are more complicated than they first seem.

Excerpt: The Unwanteds — Thematic Essay by Rhys Wheaton

In a world where being creative is frowned upon, and moments of expressing yourself are called infractions, it is to no doubt that children are preparing themselves for the worst possible fate: being killed for being yourself. In The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann children are killed for being creative; however, there is a separate world that has been created in secret from the government that allows children to be innovative and express their emotions. One main theme of this book is how society hampers children’s self-esteem, and beating them down for being themselves.

When people are expected to fit into a certain category and act a certain way and then chastised and put down when we don’t, this negatively affects our mindsets and how we view ourselves, not only in the book, but in our society today.

Excerpt: Instincts From The Maze Runner by Piper Aaronson

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner takes place in a maze, where survival is everything. The main character, Thomas, starts out just like everybody else, confused. All of the boys there wake up with no past memories. He wakes up in a place where they call themselves the Gladers. In The Maze Runner, the theme is to trust your instincts and to not second guess yourself.

Excerpt: Legend — Author’s Craft Essay by Natasha Epstein

Crime and forbidden love. The perfect “chick flick” plot. The book Legend, however, is something more. Legend, by Marie Lu, tells the story of a renegade boy named Day, his young street-crime partner Tess, and a Republic (government) spy-in-training named June. When Day is framed in the murder of June’s brother Mathias, June attempts to find Day only to fall in love with him while capturing him. In Legend, Lu uses symbolism, revealing actions, and flashbacks to represent Day’s feelings.

A couple of examples of symbolism in Legend are the character Tess, and Day’s pendant. Tess is a symbol for Day’s want for his family (most of whom thinks he are dead), and his subconscious want for safety. Day treats Tess like a younger sibling, much like he would have treated his younger brother if he (Day) still lived with his family. Day’s pendant, an old quarter coin sealed in a metal casing, is a symbol for trust. It is a symbol for trust because Dad’s father, the person who gave Day his pendant, trusted Day enough to give him a valuable object that the government would probably confiscate if they got their hands on it.

Two examples of revealing actions are when Day is experimented on by the government, and when Day’s brother sacrifices himself for Day. Day is experimented on by the government because he got a perfect score on his Trial, a test of physical and mental well-being all ten-year-olds receive. The government does not tell Day he got a perfect score, and instead claims he completely failed, and they have to take him to a “labor camp”.Of course, the government’s assertion that they’re taking Day to a labor camp is a lie, as they simply experiment on him to try and see what makes him so physically and mentally well-off. Day escapes their experimenting, and takes to the streets. I believe this ordeal, from the experiments to the discovery that the government lies represent Day’s fear, as the experiences scarred him physically, as well as taking away his ten-year-old innocence and replacing it with the truth of a corrupt government. When Day’s brother, John, sacrifices himself for Day, the action represents love. The action occurred when Day, June, and John were trying to escape a government building before Day was supposed to be executed. John, seeing that they did not have enough time and needed a distraction to escape, dresses as Day and is executed in Day’s place. This action represents love because it shows John really is, or was, “willing to die” for Day.
Finally, some flashbacks Day experiences are one of a mean Republic officer and one of his first crime. In the first flashback, Day remembers accidentally hitting an officer with a small paper ball he was playing with, and talking back to the officer afterward. This results in the officer taking the family’s dinner – a whole chicken, a treat for their poor family. This flashback shows Day’s anger, as Day did next to nothing wrong and yet their hard-earned meal was taken. Later, a flashback of Day’s first crime, throwing an ice ball dipped in gasoline through a window shows Day’s pride, as criminal activity was a way for him to get back at the government without losing anything personally.

Lu’s novel Legend thus uses symbolism, revealing actions, and flashbacks to show Day’s emotions. Even though the most people would think a novel with a combination of love and crime melodramatic, Legend is not. Readers are drawn into the story from the beginning through the use of intricate character personalities and subtle foreshadowing. I believe the novel was enhanced by the use of these different techniques and that they also resulted in providing the reader a different, deeper story.