Shocking Confrontations in War Crimes

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‘War Crimes’ is a shockingly revealing and confronting text. It challenged much of my own experiences and additionally, much of what society values and believes. ‘War Crimes‘ has the ability to open our eyes to a great deal of issues, most of which we aren’t exposed to in our everyday lives, including Iraqi culture and beliefs, the media promoting issues of racism, xenophobia and misogyny and global conflicts such as war. I found much of it confronting, but also revealing and interesting. After reading it I was shocked at the attitudes some people have towards others, in particular the xenophobia that was explored in the text.

Throughout the text the connection between global and local conflicts were reinforced. This reflected much of the main characters values and attitudes through their responses to conflicts, and, in turn positioned the readers to view and relate to certain characters. In particular I was able to relate to Jade, Jordan, Ishtar and even Rick to some extent. I felt as if Jade was a symbol of peace and empathy, especially when contrasted with the society, saturated with war, in which they lived. “Imagine hundreds of years ago, seein’ them white people comin’ round the headlands in their ships.” Jade is a great deal more morally conscious compared to the others, she is able to see things in different perspectives and has a respect for other cultures. In a society where many people are fearful of difference, in relation to race, this was something admirable. She also wants to appear tough, however, throughout the text, she was perceived otherwise. “We can be sisters… We can share my room” and She established emotional connections with her peers and cared for them. Betzien portrayed her as hard working, as she ...

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... she is racist. Her masculinity and selfishness may be another factor that discourages us as readers to relate to Lara.

Additionally, there were two scenes, which I found exceptionally challenging to read. The first scene in which Jade is raped, and the scenes that follow in which thoughts and memories of the rape resurface and the scene in which Samira drenches herself in petrol. These scenes portray grim scenarios, ones of which we, as a society, aren’t exposed to a great deal. This enhances the shock and horrification we, as readers, experience and made it difficult to read and comprehend.

In conclusion, ‘War Crimes’, although it was a challenging read, it was also very worthwhile. I was able to learn a great deal from this text about issues like racism, global and local conflicts and the relationships between teenagers in a society like Cummergunji’s.

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