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Grade 12 English
November 25, 2013
The events that make up one's childhood have a significant influence on the person that child will ultimately become. In the novels Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard and The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski the main characters, both young boys, are forced to live through horrific events that prove to have lasting impacts on both characters. Kosinski's protagonist whose name is unknown and Ballard's main character Jim are subjected to the horrendous tragedies of World War II. The boy in The Painted Bird is a Jewish child in Eastern Europe while Jim in Empire of the Sun is a British boy who is living in Shanghai. While they are experiencing the war in very different settings, there is a common experience between them as they are bound by the cruel nature of war regardless of location and by the fact that both are young boys at the time war strikes.
Both authors describe characters who and are forced to survive on their own, or face certain death. The fear of death is constantly taunting them and never far from their train of thought. The effects of war, alienation, and survival, impact the lives of the two boys greatly and they are both similar and different in the ways they react to and cope with their surroundings.
Throughout the course of the novels the boys come into contact with soldiers of opposing armies. Jim interacts with the Japanese army while the Jewish boy comes into contact with the German army. The characters react differently in their encounters with the soldiers and towards the devastating effects of war. After the Japanese army takes Jim's parents to a concentration camp, he...