How would one describe Cheslav, Rosalia, and Abdul in an essay addressing the topic, despite their differences, the characters in Deborah Ellis's No Safe Place can only escape their pasts if they work together? How would one approach the essay if one agrees with the topic?
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Deborah Ellis's No Safe Place is a highly emotional tale of three minors escaping the hardships of their own countries to find refuge in England. All three characters come from different countries with very different cultural backgrounds and also suffer very different tragic pasts. But all three must work together to be able to escape from Calais, France, to seek refuge in England. To be able to write your essay, what you will first want to do is analyze exactly how each character is different and then also analyze exactly how each character contributed to the group's escape. You'll want to be very careful with your organization though; otherwise, you'll risk having your essay sound more like plot summary than analysis. Depending on how long your essay needs to be, you will probably write one analytical paragraph per character. The paragraphs will start out talking about the character's past, but the ultimate aim of the paragraph will not be to summarize the character. Rather, the ultimate goal of the paragraph will be to analyze exactly how the character contributed to the group's escape.
Let's look at the main protagonist, Abdul, as an example. Abdul is different from the other characters in that he comes from Baghdad and lost his entire family during the recent Iraq war. His mother and foster sister were shot, and his father and brothers were killed by a bomb. He even lost his best friend due to abuse from anti-gays, even though his best friend was actually not gay. Due to all of his losses, one his greatest obstacles he must overcome is lack of trust, which will certainly interfere with his ability to work with the rest of the group in their escape to England. When the novel opens, we see Adbul in Calais, France, having already escaped Baghdad. We especially see just how much he has been through in the lines:
He'd spend the rest of the night playing cat and mouse with the Calais police. It was a dangerous game, but it was a whole lot safer than remembering. (Ch. 1)
One way in which Adbul contributes to helping the group is that he helps nurse Jonah back to health. But there are definitely many ways in which they all help each other, which helps them reach their goal of escaping to England.
It's best to start by jotting down some notes analyzing both the characters' pasts as well as their contributions to escaping. Once you have your notes in order, you will then be ready to construct your thesis, which, for this essay, will be fairly simple. Since you already know you agree that the characters needed to work together to escape their pasts, despite their differences, in its simplest form, your thesis will be something like:
- Despite their differences, the characters in No Safe Place find that they must work together to succeed in escaping their pasts.
But you may also want to be a little more specific about what you see their differences being, which will come from your analysis. We already know that one thing that makes Adbul different is his lack of trust, so a more specific thesis will look something like this, where X and Y represent other as of yet unspoken differences in the characters Cheslave and Rosalia:
- Despite their differences, such as lack of trust, X, and Y, the characters in No Safe Place find that they must work together to succeed in escaping their pasts.
From there, you will be able to clearly state your analysis concerning what makes the character different from the others and how that character contributes to the group's efforts.
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