Empire Of The Sun by JG Ballard

843 Words4 Pages
What can I say about "Empire of the Sun" other than it is a brilliant book, "Empire of the Sun" is not about the end; it's all about the journey. Knowing that's going to happen is irrelevant, it's how things happen that's important and how people react to the events. The novel tells the story, in a fictional account, of the author's experiences as a young boy in Shanghai at the outbreak of the Second World War. Jim, the third person narrator of the novel, is separated from his parents when the Japanese invade Shanghai at the end of 1941. The first part of the novel tells of his adventures on the streets of Shanghai, trying first of all to find his parents, then to give himself up to the Japanese. When even that fails, Jim's life becomes a simple battle for survival, first of all in Shanghai and then at the hands of the Japanese in a staging camp, where he is effectively sent to die. The second part of the novel moves on three years to the internment camp where Jim has spent the war. It is the middle of 1945, and the novel tells of the last days of the camp as the rations run out and the Japanese realise that they are about to lose the war. The fascination here is to watch how the people behave as the war reaches its inevitable conclusion: seeing who keeps going and who gives up. The second part ends with a "death march" as the Japanese move the exhausted and starving prisoners out the camp and march them towards Shanghai. The final part of the novel tells of the anarchy of the days immediately after the end of the war and ends with Jim being reunited with his parents. Again, the fascination is with the people and how they react to their new found freedom. What is so brilliant about this novel is the absolutely compelling way that it portrays the world through the eyes of a young boy. Jim was 11 when the Japanese seized Shanghai and 15 when the war ended. Throughout the novel, everything is seen as Jim sees it. It is his interpretation of the confusing events that is given, along with his strange thoughts about the war. The "real" knowledge of adults is not allowed to intrude and there is no attempt to preach a particular morality or make any specific point.
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