The Other Side of Truth is a novel that is written by Beverly Naidoo, and it looks at the immigration of two young Nigerian children. These children are in a state of desperation as the mother has recently been killed and the father is a controversial journalist. The novel's main character is Sade Solaja who is also the story's narrator. She is a young Nigerian girl aged twelve. She goes through various challenges in life which help to mold her to be a refined character later in life. This paper will argue that the challenges that Sade faces as a child help to mold and refine her to grow and develop into a responsible character in the future.
In the beginning, Sade is sent to London as a refugee after the murder of her mother. Although this is a fictitious work of art, it refers to the real political events in Nigeria where most people were killed for expressing their opinions (Kusch 2016). Mostly notable in this case is Sade's father who is a controversial writer who angers the authorities through his writings which seem to criticize the government. It can be correctly argued that her father's actions are the propelling forces behind every action that happens in the novel.
Sade's life begins in grief as her mother is killed in her presence. At her young age, the sight of losing a mother is not only devastating but also frightening since it is on her that all Sade's hope lay. When her mother dies; she does not know who to turn to. The pain in her makes her weep uncontrollably. The opening passage to this incidence is told in the present tense perhaps to show the immediacy of the situation. The opening line shows the change that has occurred in Sade's life. The gunshot had, "already spread down her mother's bright white nurse's uniform." ( Naidoo 2000, p. 1). It is correct to infer from this that the white color that Sade's mother dons are associated with purity and thus, she is innocent and harmless. Thus, her killing is so devastating to the children because she is killed without reason. Just like the wound she acquires from the gunshot spreads rapidly, so is Sade's innocence which is equally stripped away. Although her killing is devastating to the children, Sade grieves for a short time but learns from the experience on how to become a better person and joins the school. As she learns, the memories of her mother propel her to work even harder.
Sade's continued suffering is eased by her mother's proverbs which become the greatest source of comfort during the hard times. She reflects at the proverbs of her mother in a sentimental manner. Proverbs carry with them some hidden meaning (Jana 2009). These proverbs remind her of the positive aspects of life as well as help in her self-development. At one instance, Sade seeks the courage to ask the Video-Man for assistance, and at this instance, she gets help from her mother's proverb; "even the best cooking pot will not produce food by itself." (p. 59) Again, there is an instance when Sade does not find it essential to enter her new classroom, but she gathers the courage to enter the class from her mother's proverb: "don't show people when you are frightened. Don't let them see it." (p. 107) At the denouement of the novel, Sade still remembers her mother's proverb, "don't judge the village by the thief, Sade. If the dog steals, will you punish the goat?" (p. 207) From the examples provided here, it is evident that every proverb offers a pivotal moment which helps Sade to act triumphantly. They become a great source of power where she turns to in moments of despair, fear, and powerlessness. These proverbs are as unique and special to her as are the experiences. Thus, her mother's teachings become a pivotal point in her growth, and this helps her to face hostile and unfamiliar situations.
While in school, Sade encounters racist school bullies who make her feel like education is not important. She does not understand why a school, which is an institution that should teach love, unity, and harmonious coexistence should be the epitome of cultural and racial segregations (Austin and Bryan 2004, p. 16). Donna and Marica harshly bully sade. Upon learning that Sade is a Nigerian, the tow bullies wonder why then she should speak English as they did. This means that English was only a preserve for the Londoners and refugees such as Sade are not expected to speak in such a language. The racial bullying Sade faces from the children reveal that the aspect of racism has been extended to the children. However, the fact that both Donna and Marica are racists as children does not mean that they will grow to be so in the future. This instance of being bullied is depressing to Sade at first, but it becomes an ingredient for her future success since the challenges do not subdue her, but she takes control of everything.
At the beginning of the story, Sade is seemingly emotionally weak character who is not able to contain the challenges she faces. For instance, Sade cannot offer any assistance to his father who is frequently assaulted by the authorities. When the children go to London, their father's application for temporary asylum is denied (Beram 2001, p. 756). Besides, Sade spies a conversation between Aunt Gracie and Mama Appiah where she discovers that the Nigerian authorities have falsely accused her father to the murder of her mother. Boldly, she talks to Femi, and they approach a newscaster to whom they narrate the entire story. After some days, the news about her father are aired, and many people gather to demand his release. This is a bold step that stemmed from the challenges that Sade faced, and she came to learn of the importance of being the bold and courageous person for her to survive.
Sade faces a lot of obstacles which aid in her self-development. Through the challenges that she faces, Sade becomes a stronger person and one who can be independent. None of the challenges that she faces ever suppress her completely. She always finds a way to gain positively from the torturous experiences. The Sade that the reader encounters at the beginning of the novel is meek, naive and a victim of mental assault but the Sade encountered at the end of the book is a courageous, independent and bold one. This transformation is attributed to the challenges that she faces as a child. Instead of being suppressed by them, Sade uses them as ingredients of her future success.
Austin, P. and Bryan Jr., J. A. (2004) 'The Other Side of Truth (Book)', Book Links, 13(4), p. 16. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=12483973&site=ehost-live (Accessed: 7 April 2019).
Beram, N. D. (2001) 'The Other Side of Truth', Horn Book Magazine, 77(6), pp. 756-757. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=5484920&site=ehost-live (Accessed: 7 April 2019).
Jana, Giles. (2009). 'What is the Other Side of Truth,' in Children's Literature: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends in Montgomery. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kusch, C. (2016). Literary analysis: the basics. [Erscheinungsort nicht ermittelbar], Routledge.
Naidoo, B. (2000). The other side of truth. London: Puffin
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