An individual needs a positive environment for them to achieve their dreams in life. When this environment is unavailable or insufficient, one becomes unable to work towards their dreams. Eventually, they fail to live comfortably and find happiness in life. Misplacement can take several dimensions. For example, physical misplacement can occur when a person lives in a neighborhood that is away from their home. Cultural misplacement, on the other hand, refers to the difference in culture between one person and the members of their society. A culturally misplaced individual finds their environment unfavorable, since they cannot comfortably do what they are accustomed to. Both physical and cultural misplacement are evident in the books The Illegal by Lawrence Hill and Room by Emma Donoghue. Although both books have physical misplacement in the themes, The Illegal incorporates socio-cultural misplacement to a big extent. In Room, Jack lives with his mother in a confined room under the watch of Old Nick. Jack was born in this room after his mother was sexually assaulted by Old Nick. Both Jack and his Ma spend all night and all day in this dark room, although it has a television set and some household items. Jack doesnt know anything else apart from what he sees in his house, and believes that what is broadcasted in the television is only imaginary. In The Illegal, Keita Ali is a boy gifted with the talent of long-distance running. He lives in the Indian Ocean island of Zatoroland with his family. When political upheavals befall his country, he relocates his family to the Freedom State where he found citizenship as a result of his abilities. Although innocent, Keita and Jack face both physical and cultural misplacement as a result of misfortune or secondary to the problems of their relatives. In all cases, misplacement places one in odds with the new environment in the pursuit of identity and meaning.
Reading the two texts shows that Keita and Jacks woes are purely the consequences of other people problems. Their humble beginnings and the desires to lead a normal life are congruent to those of ordinary boys in the society. Keitas displacement from his homeland was a consequence of the misconduct of different adults appearing in his life. For instance, the notorious athletic coach signs him into the national team but rebukes him when he fails to make it in the final round. This encounter with Antony Hamm, accentuated by the growing fear of political arrest and detention, forces Keita to flee Zatoroland and join other illegals in Freedom State. As a young boy, Keita does not understand why his father was killed for being a journalist. He wondered whether a person could be punished for having thoughts or only for committing those thoughts to paper (Hill 76). Regardless of the woes that beget his father, he does not wish to risk his life when there is an option of running away for safety. Unfortunately, he faces even more problems in his destination. He discovers that the residents of Freedom State are racists, and they hate him particularly for his abilities as a marathoner. In the racing track, one of the runners tells Keita to go home, a gesture that demoralizes him a big deal. The runner hates Keita not because of his running abilities but due to his ancestry. He is a born into an inferior race and he has no control over it. He is just a victim of circumstances both in Zatoroland and Freedom State. Innocence in Room is portrayed by Jack. He has spent eight years of his life in one place and knowing only one person. He does not wish to live in this situation but he is forced to by circumstances. Boys of his age were attending school and playing in parks. Some free boys did not have even have parents but led better lives. The reader does not have sufficient background of the Mas kidnapping, but it is clear that Jacks problems are a product of Old Nick and Ma unfriendly relations. Ma knows that Jack needs to lead a normal life outside like other children and plots an escape plan for him. However, Jack declines and tells Ma to let them just stay since he was already used to the life inside the room (Donoghue 189). It is thus evidence that innocence does not preclude anyone from misery, and facing challenges in life does not imply notoriety.
Keita and Jack have been misplaced by misfortune. Keita is a young boy who is gifted with fast legs that can run long distance races. At first, this talent is a fortune since he gains some material possession courtesy of his talent. However, he would like to live with his family in Zatoroland and bring glory to his land. Unfortunately, the political and social environment does not support his ambitions. His father is a political dissident, and this character places Keita at loggerheads with the dictatorial government. Apparently, this government does not support its athletes, which prompts Keita to fall into the hands of Antony Hamm who is a private marathon agent. Keita, like other asylum seekers in his country, take a boat to a far country of Freedom State. He joins other members of his race in AfricTown who later face the threat of deportation by the authority in Freedom State. When enjoying himself in a bar, a fellow asylum seeker challenges him to keep running since the government has been deporting [immigrants] as fast as they can (Hill 13). It is thus clear that the movement of Keita from Zatoroland to Freedom State was compelled and not voluntary. Jacks story is more or less similar to Keitas. He is born into confinement. The only things he knows are the items and the activities in his 11x11 foot square room. Indeed, he says that the the wide of the walls is the same as the wide of Floor, that he could count eleven feet going both ways, that means Floor is a square (Donoghue 185). Jack is hidden away from the physical environment outside the room and sometimes even beyond the closet. At some point, he wondered why he was hided [sic] like the chocolates (289). Like Keita, he would not want to be isolated from the real world. He would love to breathe the fresh air outside and enjoy the freedom like other boys of his age, but the misfortune of being a bastard, a product of forced sex, and a son to a kidnapped woman accentuated his misery and subsequent physical misplacement. Physical misplacement, in the novel and elsewhere denies an individual a chance to live freely and lead a life akin to that of their contemporaries.
Misplacement, whether physical or cultural, denies people the chance to discover their full potential as much of their time is spent in the pursuit of identity, belongingness or incorporation. Life for Keita in Freedom State is not easy. He wins several awards after emerging first in the races. However, he must disguise under a local alias as Roger Bannister. Keita takes up this name to move closer to the race in which he lives. However, his skin color betrays him regardless of his material possessions. As a member of the Freedom State national team, he wins a name for himself and subsequently attracts the attention of blagaybulled, a disabled female reporter who the author describes as having abs of steel, and biceps like guns (Hill 97). The author juxtaposes Keita, a man having identity crisis, with John Falconer and Viola Hill, both who are illegals living proudly in Freedom State. Keita is misplaced in this land while the two are not. Therefore, Keita must spend his life under the veil of a Freedom Stater rather than a Zatorolander. Jack also faces challenges after his newly found freedom. He is over ten years when he escapes from the room, but delights in doing what children under his age would do. His first encounter with candy shows his delayed maturity as a result of confinement. After he gets his first lollipop, he tears the plastic right off and suck it. He describes it as the sweetest thing [he] ever had (394). Keita and Jacks misplacement from their environments affects their relationship with nature and the surrounding as exemplified by their rather unusual behaviors.
In conclusion, literature has proven that misplacement is attributable to a number of factors, although a person does not need to be guilty to face it. Jack in Room and Keita in The Illegal are misplaced from their rightful nature as a result of the action of others. The two boys are arguably innocent but come face to face with the wrath of life due to their backgrounds. It is unfortunate that they live in a world where humanity is diminished, and this deprivation leads them into miserable living. Therefore, their efforts to move forward in life are halted by the desire to find identity amongst a community that is unfriendly to them. However, the two stories have a glimmer of hope. Despite spending much of their life in uncertainty, the two characters overcome their challenges to become meaningful people in life. It is thus certain that misery can delay fortune, although persistence and perseverance pays in the long run
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