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Throughout Morris Glietzman’s Boy Overboard, we follow the path of Jamal, and his sister Bibi. Jamal is an interesting character who achieves a lot throughout the text. Bibi and Jamal’s lives turn around one day, when they are forced to move to a refugee camp, then smuggle their way out of Afghanistan.
Jamal is full of idealism and ambition throughout the text. His desire to play football for Manchester United – A popular high performing soccer team – at an international level shows his ambitious side. A little into the text, Jamal ponders that if he was good enough at football, would his government allow him to start an Afghanistan football team. This shows Jamal has set the bar even higher and is always striving to do better. Near the end of the text, Jamal tries to extend his dream, wanting to get into the Australian football team. Jamal’s ambition and braveness are all part of his great role as the protagonist. I think everyone can take a page out of Jamal, and be constantly challenging yourself to do better.
A key relationship in the story is between Bibi and Jamal. Sibling relationships often dissolve into arguments, but Bibi and Jamal are really close. They are always looking out for each other. There are many instances where Jamal takes great care of Bibi. When Bibi steps on a landmine, Jamal offers his life by offering to stand on the landmine instead, because of his love and compassion for her. Later on in the book, Jamal is shocked that he forgot Bibi’s birthday, so instead “Let’s plan a party for your birthday!”. He is angry at himself for forgetting such an occasion and makes up a plan with her to make it up.
Jamal is an empathetic and caring character. He is always showing empathy to those around them, comforting them when there is little hope. Throughout the book, he is always doing his best to encourage others, and raise their spirits. “I’m not completely sure if this is true” – Jamal is exaggerating a little bit to increase everyone’s spirits on the boat. When he makes bread on board the ship, instead of keeping it to himself and his friends, he shares with everyone, ensuring everyone gets a correct portion. I think that Jamal is a person that society should look up to. He is always looking out for others and being selfless.
Overall, Jamal is a well-rounded character, able to look out for others and himself. I found him interesting because of his many traits, including, especially his idealism. In my opinion, the author was trying to raise awareness of the atrocious laws that they had to live under daily, and show people about the living conditions. There are many interesting points in Boy Overboard which will interest the reader. An important theme that interested me was Gender Inequality. As Bill Bradley once said, “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in”
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