Life is very unpredictable and sometimes throws us challenges that we need to overcome, in order to survive. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, survival means, “The continuation of life or existence. ” Yoko Kawashima Watkins was the main character from So Far From the Bamboo Grove. She was an eleven year old Japanese girl who struggles with life in 1945 the last year of World War II. Jeffery Lionel Magee, or Maniac as some would call him, was the main character from Maniac Magee. He was a twelve year old, white orphan who runs into a racist town.
The stories of these two characters are different; yet, they demonstrate two kids going through difficulties in life. Yoko went through many life or death situations, and she had to do whatever she could to survive. Yoko had to flee her home from Korean Communist Army soldiers with her Mother and her older sister. Yoko’s friends and family helped her a lot during this dangerous period in time. One of these people was her older sister, Ko. Their mother died and Ko had to feed, and take care of Yoko. She also shined shoes for money for their family.
One of the biggest characters that helped Yoko survive was Corporal Matsumura. Soon after their initial meeting Yoko questions, “How could I know this man was to be important in my life? ” He was the one that had told them to escape their house in Nanam (northern Korea). If he had not come to notify the family, she would not be alive today. Mrs. Masuda was a big help in Japan. She offered both Yoko and Ko a place to stay at and helped Yoko with her Mother when she died. Secondly, Yoko was very smart to use disguises during her journey to Japan.
One example is when Yoko, along with her mother and sister, were on a medical train and the medic and nurse said that Korean Communist Army soldiers came to inspect the train, and they had to disguise themselves as sick people to avoid being captured. Yoko then shaved her head, to pretend she was a boy. Also, she took the uniform of a dead Korean Communist Army soldier so that the other soldiers would not be suspicious if they saw her. Finally, Yoko earned and found money to pay for food and other necessities for survival. One way she made money was by selling handmade items.
Yoko and Ko also found over 36,000 yen in a secret pocket in Mother’s wrapping cloth. Yoko entered an essay contest, won first place and received 10,000 yen. She was very resourceful, which helped her to survive. Maniac came into a racist town and had to learn to survive. He had to survive homelessness. Maniac became an orphan at age three, and then had to live with his aunt and uncle who disliked each other, but would not get a divorce. This was the reasoning for all the running and trying to find a new home. He was very independent, yet he did have some people to help him out.
The major family who helped him was the Beales. They gave him a home, family, love, and an address, all the things he has always wanted. Another person who helped Maniac to survive was Grayson. He found Maniac unconscious, outside of the buffalo pen at Elmwood Park Zoo. If it wasn’t for Grayson, who knows what would have happened to Maniac. Also, the Pickwells gave Maniac dinner and were one of the only families in the West End that Maniac could go to, to show Mars Bar Thompson the best that the West End had to offer. Maniac also had to survive all the racism and prejudice in the town.
He didn’t see or care about what color people were. Some people even thought he was blind. His thoughts were “He knew he should be feeling afraid of these East Enders, these so-called black people. But he wasn’t. It was himself he was afraid of, afraid of any trouble he might cause just by being there. ” Many of the East Enders told him to go back on his side of the town but he did not listen to them. He also did not see that some of the people in the town did not like him, but in the end he shows them, that they are all the same, no matter what color, and brought both ends together.
Since Maniac was an orphan, he mostly had to survive on his own. Both characters suffered a big loss in their lives, but with help and determination, they found hope. Yoko completed her journey to Japan survived going through a loss, and reunited with her brother Hideyo. Maniac found what he always wanted, a home and family that loves him for who he is and brought both sides of Two Mills together. No matter how hard life can be sometimes you need to be able to adapt, and do your best to survive.
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