Fireshadow – Analytical Essay: “ Throughout the novel, characters encounter challenges and setbacks, but the novel’s message is optimistic. ” We all face many challenges and setbacks in life, but it is whether we deal with them properly, that decides whether we move on. If we don’t overcome our challenges and setbacks, we could be dwelling on the one problem for a long time, because the longer we leave a problem to grow, the harder it becomes to deal with. Despite the fact that characters encounter challenges and setbacks throughout the whole novel, its overall message is quite optimistic.
The four main challenges which are included in the novel, include death, pain, suffering, and separation. Erich and Vinnie faced the biggest challenges and setbacks out of all the characters in the novel. But eventually, they both summoned up the courage to confront their problems and move on. Erich for example, was separated from Alice for around nine months and was unable to support her through her pregnancy, because he was looking after his sister in a hospital in Germany who had TB.
Later, when Alice died during child birth, Erich was prevented from returning to Australia and his baby girl for a few years by Alice’s parents, as they were the next rightful guardians of the baby. This was one of Erich’s major setbacks, but he didn’t give up on her, and he went to meet her In Australia a few years later, and after some careful consideration, Matilda took Erich’s hand, looked at him, and smiled, showing that she approved of him.
Thomas was another one of Erich’s major challenges, because he made life in the prison camp hard for Erich, by continuously picking on him and trying to catch him doing something wrong. The main reason for this, is that Thomas liked Alice because she was the only female who was in the camp, and because Erich worked with her in the hospital every day, he saw Erich as competition. Erich tried to keep his incidents with Thomas a secret, and by doing this he was making the wrong decision.
But he was lucky, because before things could get any worse, his friend Gunter, came out with the truth about Thomas so that Erich would be left alone. One day Thomas finally caught Erich in the act of taking a scalpel from the hospital, and although Erich was just thinking about putting it back, all the evidence was pointing against him. As a punishment, he was put in the Detention cell for a while. Vinnie had many challenges and setbacks as well, most of which he didn’t quite understand.
He basically thought that his life was ruined, because he had a large scar on his face which everyone stared at and talked about, his sister had recently died in a car crash, and his parents wouldn’t talk to him because they thought it was his fault that his sister, Katia, had died. Vinnie ran away from his house to the isolation of the Australian bush, so that he could try and hide from the world and all his problems, and take some time think about what he should do, because he was very confused. However big or small a challenge or setback may be, great achievements and advantages are almost sure to follow.
This idea is shown quite a bit throughout the novel, mainly with Erich. Erich was captured by the British while fighting for the German Army and was sent to a P. O. W. Camp in Australia. He would seen being taken capture as the worst thing that could happen to him in the war, but if he hadn’t been captured and sent to Marinup, he would have never met Dr. Alexander or his granddaughter Alice, let alone learnt all about surgery and medicine during the time after he was appointed as the doctor’s assistant.
Erich, like most others in his country, was brought up to see every single person – from the countries that were fighting against Germany – as an enemy. So it’s no surprise that Erich was absolutely astounded when he saw that Dr. Alexander willingly helped the injured German soldiers, even though his son was killed when fighting against them. This made Erich wonder why the Australians were regarded so lowly by most Germans. Eventually, it was Alice who managed to make Erich realise that he needed to stop trying to keep fighting the war because it was holding him back from moving on.
In the end, it turned out that Erich was extremely lucky to be captured, because it opened up opportunities for him to do something better with his life, like become a doctor. In the novel, Vinnie’s sister died in a car crash. This was a horrible experience for Vinnie, because Katia had looked after him a lot, and after she died, Vinnie’s parents almost completely stopped talking to him, and his dad accused him of letting Katia die. Her death wasn’t caused by the actual impact of the crash, but by the flames that engulfed the car a while later.
Vinnie however, survived the crash and made it out of the car safely. But despite the intense heat radiating from the fire, he had tried his best to free his sister’s leg which was trapped by part of the car, and even though he knew that he wouldn’t be able to help in any way, he still kept pushing himself into the car while the evil flames licked at his face. This was the reason why Vinnie had a big scar on the right side of his face. When most people see Vinnie, they only see the scarring on his face, and they are usually scared or shocked.
When he met Erich and his granddaughter Helen, he expected it would be the same, and that they would stare at him or try and avoid him. But instead, they seemed to ignore his scars, for once, they saw the boy behind the scars… they saw and appreciated him for who he really was, something Vinnie’s father had never done. He had always expected Vinnie to be as good as his older sister Katia, and his parent’s focused most of his love and attention on her, because to them, she was the only one that would do something important with her life.
The way that Vinnie’s parent’s treated him was very discouraging and negative, which made it even harder for Vinnie to do things as well or with as much enthusiasm as his parents would have liked him to. Despite all this, Vinnie was able to make the decision to pack up and go back to face up to his parents, and try to mend their relationship. Gunter experienced a great deal of suffering and pain, when his leg was crushed into a bloody pulp by a falling tree trunk. This gruesome event occurred in the forest, when some of the Australian P.
O. W. Camp guards had taken a group of Germans to chop trees for fire wood. This was definitely a setback for Gunter, because his leg had to be amputated before infection could spread through his body. Another reason why this was a big setback, is that Gunter had a wife to go back to when he was freed, and he wasn’t sure whether she would like him after she saw his stump leg. Doubt started to fill his head, and at the time, he had even wondered whether his life was worth living any more.
Erich confronted him when he was on the verge of giving up, and talked to him about his wife, and told him that if she truly loved him, she wouldn’t care one bit whether he had a leg or not. When Gunter was finally freed, he returned to his Italian wife who became pregnant a little while later, and they decided to move to Australia because it would be a good place for their baby to grow up in. During their time in Australia, they were treated badly because of their race by some people, and they found it hard to communicate with others because of the language barrier between them, as they couldn’t speak very good English.
They met up with Alice and her family in Australia, and Alice made sure that she taught them some English every now and then, so that they could speak for themselves, and to try and prevent people from making racist comments about them. Alice was separated from Erich for a long time, and she suffered a lot, because after a while, she started to forget what Erich looked like. Although Alice received some support from her family, she still needed Erich by her side during her pregnancy.
Her parents, mainly her father, had been outraged when they first found out that the father was a German, and he slapped Alice across the face. They didn’t talk to each other for a while after that, but then one day Alice’s parents apologized for their actions, and they offered their support. Alice’s grandfather, Dr. Alexander, had backed up her decision right from the start, and because he was a doctor, he offered her his help and advice. Whenever Alice had a question about anything, she turned to Dr.
Alexander for the answer, and he always made sure to keep her calm and reassure her that everything would be fine. The reactions that people had when they saw Alice, was a setback in itself, because everyone just stared at her like they were disgusted at her, and like they were trying to put her down. For months and months this same behaviour went on, but no one ever came out with the question that they were all thinking of… “ Who is the father? ”. But Alice didn’t let it get to her, she just ignored them and kept doing whatever she was doing at the time.
In the end, Alice died during child birth, but the baby had turned out perfectly. So at least all the pain and suffering she had endured, hadn’t been in vain. She had brought new life into the world, just before her life was taken out. The death of Dr. Alexander’s son would have changed him a lot. It’s incredible how easily a death can tear a person apart. But however much grief he felt, he managed to put it aside and move on. This decision allowed him to help others and prevent the same thing that happened to him, from happening to someone else.
This is a good example of how we need to stay strong no matter what happens, because we need a clear head to make the decisions that will allow us to move on. In Fireshadow, Anthony Eaton shows that if we want to get on with life, we must make the right decisions and overcome our challenges and setbacks no matter how big they are. The optimistic message which is sent to the reader, is that to every challenge or setback, there is always hope of new opportunities in life, but we must move on to make use of them.