Identify a critical worldwide theme from the book.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the most intense theme that comes out of the work is how apartheid is fundamentally unjust.  Brink is deliberate in choosing someone as apolitical as Ben to use as the reference point in assessing apartheid as a form of governmental control against Africans.  Ben comes to realize how intensely cruel apartheid is and how unjust the government and the people who support it are.  This becomes one of the strongest themes in the novel.  Brink develops it to a point whereby with Ben's death becomes a statement in itself.  The reader must fundamentally choose between silence and acceptance, validating an unjust form of government and rule, and taking direct action against it.  This becomes where the most powerful theme of the novel arises in that the reader becomes inextricably pulled towards what is being shown.  It is to a point where the book moves from narrative to political statement, one in which the reader must voice something of relevance.  It is difficult to remain apolitical and uninvolved when political reality denies so much to so many, something Ben understood and something that the reader understands through the themes of the novel.