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The protagonist of the book is William Kamkwamba. When the book begins, William is a firm believer in magic and has many superstitions. Though as the book progresses, he educates himself and nurtures his curiosity for science. This leads to his creation of the windmill, and bringing of modern science into Malawi. William embodies the values of hard-work, knowledge, helping others, and keeping an optimistic outlook. There is no particular antagonist in the book. Other important characters include William’s father, Trywell Kamkwamba, his mother, Anges Kamkwamba, his friend, Gilbert, his cousin, Geofrey, the chief, Albert Mofat, his dog, Khamba, and many others.
William faces conflict in many forms over the course of the book. However, the most significant is undoubtedly character vs. society. William’s pursuit of science places him at odds with the society of Malawi. The people of Malawi don’t accept William’s use of science and view his windmill as an evil, and magical tool. They even blame it for the return of drought, claiming it blew the clouds away. It is only when the windmill helps provide electricity for the country during a blackout, that the conflict is resolved, and the people of Malawi start to open up more to the idea of modern science.
The story takes place in the African country of Malawi, where magic is prevalent and modern science is vastly unknown and disregarded. It was also a land plagued by chronic drought, hunger, and poverty. The setting of the book is important to the overall plot because it is the direct result of the story’s conflict as well as several other crucial details of the story. The conflict between William and the Malawian people is caused by Malawi’s culture. It is due to Malawi’s poverty that William is forced to educate himself, rather than receiving a formal education, which largely helps make him who he is.
The primary use of symbolism featured in the book is William’s windmill. It is used to symbolize many ideas. It represents the triumph of human invention and innovation in the face of tough times. It is a testament to William’s personal aptitude for science. William’s success with the windmill then symbolizes the achievements that are possible when individuals in tough situations apply their intelligence, hard work, and efforts to inventions and innovations.
The title of the book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, is simply a reference to the protagonist, William Kamkwamba. As the title implies, the plot of the book revolves around William’s endeavors to help his family and country by harnessing the wind via a homemade windmill.
The author includes many themes in the book, though two of the most prominent are undoubtedly the ideas of magic vs. science and rebirth. As a child, William possesses strong superstitions and is a firm believer in magic. However, as he begins to educate himself, he learns more about science. To William, Magic is something to be regarded with fear, while science is something to be regarded with respect. Magic represents Malawi’s past of drought, poverty, and hunger, while science represents the possibility of a brighter future for the nation. Throughout the book, William focuses on the way that new use can be found for things that were seemingly useless. He applies the concept of rebirth to several topics, including objects, Malawian society, and even himself. However, this principle of rebirth is most visible in William’s windmill, which is made up of spare parts and old materials that others threw away.
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