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Alan Duff

Once we were warriors is a book written by Alan Duff who is a New Zealand author. It is one of the best selling first novel, which was first published in 1990. Once we were warriors is a fiction in nature. This book is more influenced by the childhood experiences that Allan went through. The book gives a story of a Maori, which is an urban family, which depicts the reality of domestic violence (Thompson, 230-241). The book shows the vision he has for the native people of his country more than two hundred years after the conquest by the English.

He uses prose, which is raw, and compelling as it narrates the story of Beth Heke who is a Maori woman married two Jake who struggles to keep her family united despite the kind of violence and the squalor of the housing in which they live. This is a book which has a masterpiece of realism which is unblinking, irresistible energy and much sorrow. The book is centered upon the topic of domestic violence and reaches a point where it is equally potent and painful. The book has a critical theme, which is universal, the issues of brutality, cycle of family violence and the kind of denial that happens within a family.

Allan Duff brings forwards the themes in a way that call for no new special awareness. The book shows that equality is not a major issue in the lifestyle that Maori people live. The major issues with the people is alcoholism and unemployment. The women have the obligation to work while the men are who are supposed to be protectors spend most of their time in the local pubs (Thompson, 230-241). The books reveals that despite the fact that wife beating is distasteful it is a behavior which is acceptable more so if a woman has the courage to talk back to her husband.

At first Beth and Jake Heke, seem to have a marriage that is strong and solid. They show moments of genuine affection when Jake is not drunk. However, when he is drunk he turns violent. Allan shows how the violence, which exists in the family, affects the children. The writer takes advantage of an opportunity to show forces which leads to domestic violence. The book also has a focus on the lash, which exist between the traditions of Maori and the modern values. The kind of snares, which are laid for men and women, are not the only issues, which are put forward for people to reflect about in the book.

The books also works to some extent on three levels, for example, the emotional, intellectual and visceral and it is by the combination of the concepts, which make this book a famous book among many readers (Thompson, 230-241). The book also shows the disconnection that exists in the family between the western culture and ways of learning. This is revealed when Beth reflects that she nor anybody else that she knew had any books in their homes. This is also shown, as it is only Grace who is her daughter that has interest in learning and schooling (Thompson, 230-241).

This is where the book depicts the differences which existed between the traditional lifestyle that the Maori people lived and the modern lifestyle, which was more westernized. Work cited Thompson, K. M. (2003). “Once Were Warriors: New Zealand’s first indigenous blockbuster. ” In J. Stringer (Ed. ), Movie Blockbusters London: Routledge pg 230 – 241. Beth Heke left her small town and, despite her parents’ disapproval, married Jake “the Muss” Heke. After 18 years, they live in a slum and have six children. Their interpretations of life and being Maori are tested.

Since Beth is from a more traditional background she related to the old ways, while Jake is an interpretation of what some Maori have become. Beth sometimes tries to reform herself and her family; for example by giving up drinking and saving the money which she would have spent on alcohol. However she finds it easy to lapse back into a pattern of drinking and irresponsibility. The family is also shown disconnected from Western culture and ways of learning. Beth reflects that neither she nor anyone else she knows has any books in their home, and her daughter, Grace, is the only character with a real interest in school and learning.

This disconnection from books and education is a major concern of Duff’s, and in real life he has founded the Books in Homes charity, which gives free books to children from poor backgrounds, and generally encourages reading. Jake is unemployed and spends most of the day getting drunk at the local bar with his friends. Here, he is in his element, buying drinks, singing songs and savagely beating any other patron who he considers to have stepped out of line (hence his nickname of ‘The Muss’).

He often invites huge crowds of friends back from the bar to his home for wild parties. While Jake portrays himself as an easy going man out for a good time, he has a vicious temper when drinking. This is highlighted when his wife dares to ‘get lippy’ at one of his parties and he savagely attacks her in front of their friends. Nig, the Hekes’ eldest son, moves out to join a street gang. He cares about his siblings, but despises his father for his thoughtless brutality, a feeling returned by the elder Heke.

Nig attempts to find a substitute family in the form of the gang, but this is unsuccessful as the gang members are either too brutal or too beaten down (in the case of Nig’s gang girlfriend) to provide him with the love and support he craves. The second son, Mark ‘Boogie’ Heke, has a history of minor criminal offences, and is taken from his family and placed in a borstal. Despite his initial anger, Mark finds a new niche for himself, as the borstal manager instructs him in his Maori heritage. Grace, the Heke’s 13-year-old daughter, loves writing stories, as an escape from the brutality of her real life.

She also spends time spying on a wealthy Pakeha family who live nearby. She is amazed at the contrast between their lives and hers – not simply the material wealth but also the lack of conflict in their lives. Grace’s best friend is a drug-addicted boy named Toot who has been cast out by his parents and lives in a wrecked car. He is the one who really cares for her. One of Jake’s friends rapes Grace in her bed one night, and she subsequently hangs herself. In her diary, later found by her family, Grace says she thinks it was her father who raped her; Jake, who had been too drunk to remember what happened that night, has no answer.

He leaves his family and starts living in a park, where he reflects on his life and befriends a young homeless man. Meanwhile Beth starts a Maori culture group and generally attempts to revive the community. The book had a sequel released in 1996, What Becomes of The Broken Hearted? , which was also released as a film in 1999. Both the book and film sequel were well received, though not as celebrated as the original. A third book in the trilogy, Jake’s Long Shadow, was released in 2002.

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