1 Bashura

Essay On Ransom David Malouf

A variety of essays written under the supervision of Dr Jennifer Minter (English Works Notes, 2014)

IN WHAT WAYS DOES BEAUTY INFORM THE VIOLENT AND HARSH WORLD OF RANSOM?

Set during the final year of the Trojan War, David Malouf’s novel, Ransom, focuses upon the heroic feats of warriors both on and off the battlefield. Although war dominates the story-line, Malouf uncovers a world wherein men follow an alternative path to violence and aggression. In seeking to retrieve his son’s body, Priam takes risks. The biggest risk is to side-step royal duty, and choose an ordinary carter. Somax introduces Priam to the human world of emotions and his relationship with Beauty is important. As such it becomes a symbol of what is important to humanity. It helps Priam recover the body and find a new way of dealing with conflict.

In the rough world of men and war, Malouf presents Somax’s attitude to Beauty as an admirable model of coping with loss. Beauty is perhaps responsible for his son’s death, having lost her footing, and possibly “knocked him sideways”.  (p 140). Somax who “felt like punching her”, instead comforted her. He began “sobbing fit to break my heart”. Malouf shows that coping with grief is part of our mortality. As he states, “only what we know we must lose is truly sweet to us”. The two became inseparable; Somax became incredibly fond of her. He shows that he is capable of accepting death and “what follows from it”. Malouf presents this not only as a preferable manner of dealing with grief but also suggests that it helps Somax deal with loss and enriches the grieving father.  Their close relationship becomes the talk of the town. The author suggests that Beauty is well named and becomes a symbol of humility and pride.

Malouf presents an admirable comparison to Achilles who is part of the war narrative. Achilles vents his anger at Hector for the loss of Patroculus who was killed in battle. Malouf depicts the half brothers as extremely close. Achilles becomes brutal and barbaric. He acts savagely and remains tied to his sorrow.  He cannot break “the knot”.  “Day after day, he rages, shames himself”. Malouf suggests that this is the wrong attitude.

Malouf prefers Somax’s response to loss. It is more worthy and significant. For this reason Somax is presented as important to Priam’s liberation. He introduces him to a range of human emotions  that enable him to bridge the gap between himself and Achilles and retrieve the body of his son. Somax also introduces Priam to the ordinary world of human beings, which is foreign to the King. He learns about personal relationships. He wonders whether the phrase “he had taken up so easily, that he knew what it was to lose a son really did mean the same for him as it did for the driver”. This knowledge helps him meet Achilles with the right frame of mind.

Significantly, Priam follows Somax’s lead and Malouf suggests this is critical to the recovery of Hector’s body. This is presented as a more important way of solving conflict than war and violence.  Pram relies on humility to break A’s pride and seek reconciliation in the form of the retrieval of his son’s body. Priam presents himself to Achilles as a frail and humble “plain man white-haired and old”. Malouf suggests that Priam succeeds because of his focus on their “shared” knowledge of mortality and their sorrow and loss which enables him to break the knot” which has suffocated Achilles since the death of Patroclus. Priam concentrates on ‘words” that centre on common generational bonds between father and son – both of a literal kind as well as symbolic and urges Achilles to think about his own legacy.

Despite the intrinsically bleak fate of human beings, Malouf’s novel Ransom is also a celebration of human experience. Discuss

Set during the final year of the Trojan War, David Malouf’s novel, Ransom, focuses upon the heroic feats of warriors both on and off the battlefield. Whilst Achilles and Priam both suffer the loss of a loved one, their responses differ. Priam’s new and audacious plan to recover his son’s, Hector’s,  body becomes the focus of  his transformation. Despite his sorrow, Priam turns the occasion into a positive shared experience with his enemy. Accordingly, Malouf suggests forgivness and not revenge can help us celebrate our humanity. Also, family bonds, and humble actions can link us with our “true” selves.

In Malouf’s truly human world of “Ransom”, enemies come together and share their loss. The author believes that this can enrich people’s lives. Rather than focus on his heroes’ divine or royal selves, Malouf believes that we must focus on what defines us as humans, which is death. Death leads to loss and grief  and these emotions can turn people into savages. Achilles’ love and loyalty for Patroclus trap him in a cycle of “self-consuming rage”. He inhumanely drags Hector’s body around the walls of Troy and becomes ‘bloody and unrecognisable”.

Contrastingly, both Somax, the ordinary carter and “simple workman”, and Priam (king) offer an alternative response to loss that does not focus on revenge, but on compassion and humanity. Priam’s ability to rise above his loss shows that as humans we should unite through grief. In this regard, Malouf presents Somax’s attitude to Beauty as an admirable model of coping with grief. Beauty is perhaps responsible for his son’s death, having lost her footing, and possibly “knocked him sideways”. However, unlike Achilles, who vents his anger at Hector for the loss of Patroclus, Somax who “felt like punching her”, instead comforted her. He began “sobbing fit to break my heart”. The two became inseparable; Somax became incredibly fond of her and eventually Beauty earns her name. Malouf suggests that it helps Somax deal with loss and enriches the grieving father.  Armed with this human insight, Priam successfully “entreats the killer of his son”, Achilles for his son’s body and asks that “we should have pity for one another’s losses”. In other words, qualities such as forgiveness are more important than revenge.

IN addition, Malouf believes that people must act in humane ways and focus on their duality. Priam seeks to explore his duality as a man, just as Achilles seeks to uncover his earthly elements and not just his warrior spirit. Unlike his Homerian counterpart, Priam does not blindly follow the course set down by the gods.  Priam has the audacity to defy the Gods and embrace chance, which offers him the opportunity to side-step royal duty.  Chance enables him to discover his ordinariness as a human being and “break the knot”. He feels uncomfortable or like a “pea rattling in the pod”, because his duty as king seems to remove him from his “true” feelings.  He becomes a king who likes to “cool his feet in the running stream” and “taste one of the little griddlecakes” made by his daughter in law.   He approaches Achilles as a simple, and humble man.

Malouf also focuses on human bonds, particularly the bond between father and son. He believes that these bonds enrich our lives and provide a personal focus and connection. Priam presents himself to Achilles as a frail and humble “plain man white-haired and old”. Malouf suggests that Priam succeeds because of his focus on their “shared” relationships as well as their knowledge of mortality and their grief. Priam concentrates on ‘words” that link them both to the past and to the future through these relationships. He urges Achilles to think about his own legacy; “think of your Son, Neoptolemus” and his “father Peleus and beyond him another”. These bonds help bring enemies together.

Storytelling is critical to the success of Priam’s mission and therefore has universal significance and is part of being human. As a “tale” told in the margins of his Greek Homerian model of The Illiad, and relayed by one who, like the author himself, is a “stealer of men’s tales”, Priam’s journey also becomes the focus of Somax’s past-tense narrative. The ability to recreate moments and experiences is a critical universal form of communication as well as one that enables people to imagine a different legacy. Specifically Malouf thereby explores the transformative power of stories and it is perhaps the retelling of many of Somax’s stories that have a direct personal effect on Priam. For example, the story of his son’s death. In fact, the two mules, beauty and shock are metaphoric representations of stories themselves and are at the basis of many of Malouf’s embedded stories that shed light on his main themes. Many of these relate to forgiveness and compassion as well as mercy.

Ransom celebrates the human experience in many different ways. Primarily, it is about shared bonds and experiences that can even unite enemies. Malouf shows that if we focus on forgiveness rather than revenge we become better people, do different things and leave better legacies. We have the chance to remake ourselves and achieve our goals in more human ways.

A man knows what is ‘sweet’ and what is ‘terrible’ too. That is what it is to be human. Discuss.

David Malouf’s novel Ransom explores what it is to be mortal through the characters Achilles and Priam . As humans, we suffer from grief and loss which can lead to two completely different reactions: boldness and barbarity. The consequences of being human can have a negative effect where it can cause to people to act in a cruel manner towards others. Malouf explores the effect of grief on characters such as Achilles and Priam to demonstrate how it can lead to two different responses.

These aspects explain how being human means being able to feel and experience the “sweet” and “terrible” things in life.

Through the character of Achilles, Malouf suggests that grief can cause people to descend into a barbarous state that belies their intrinsic humanity. Achilles, a well respected man and a warrior, finds it difficult to deal with grief over the death of Patroclus and his inability to grieve properly triggers him to perform many acts to try and relieve his grief. Due to his “self-consuming rage”, he violates the war conduct by dragging the body of Hector around until it was “caked with dust” and “bloody and unrecognisable”, allowing his men to stab Hector’s body, slashing the tendons of Hector’s feet and slaughtering cattle. However, all of this does not slightly alleviate his grief. This shows that when people are confronted with harsh reality, they have two choices: to deal with it or to work against it. Malouf outlines that to be human; people need to feel pain and loss and should deal with it in a suitable manner but most of all, the overwhelming feeling can deprive people of their human values such as conscience and common sense, thus behaving barbarically.

Priam offers another response to death that Malouf suggests is more compassionate and embraces rather than diminishes our humanity.  Priam’s ability to rise above his loss shows that as humans who suffer the consequences of mortality we should unite through grief rather than divide ourselves. In other words, we should concentrate on the similarities as humans rather than the differences as enemies..   humanity offers both A and P the opportunity to overcome their grief. … From his carter Somax, Priam learns about expressing emotions as well as the characteristics of being a father. Similar to Somax, Priam has also lost children over the years however their relationship with their children contrasts each other. Although he loved his children, Priam’s relationship with them was more “formal and symbolic” rather than “personal” like Somax’s. The discovery of these differing relationships ignites curiosity in Priam to question whether the death of his sons meant “the same for him as it did for the driver”.  Priam shows the importance of family bonds as he approaches Achilles as father to son. This shows his extent of his love for Hector, but it is upon this basis that he appeals to A’s sentiments as a son. He asks him to think about his father Peleus, and whether or not he would do the same as he is doing – stripping himself of the “ornaments of power”.. and with “no concern any longer for pride or distinction, do what is most human” – come as “a pain man white-haired and old” (185)   He also asks him to think of his own son Neoptolemus (184). A is transported “outside time”, and becomes “soul-struck” thinking of his son (186)

As Priam becomes “simply a man”, he side-steps royal customs and reflects upon the “new” and upon his legend. Priam has the audacity to challenge his fate, dare to be different and is rewarded for his vision. He achieves his mission by exposing himself to danger and by penetrating the enemy’s stronghold on horse and cart, without aggression, but through peace. Priam’s vision is “something new” so following through with the ransom has allowed him to seek the required qualities of being a true human. By approaching Achilles as a man without any royal insignia, Priam is able to appeal to Achilles in a way that restores both of their human qualities by breaking the knot of Achilles’his “self-consuming rage”. After seeing Priam stripped of his royal, Achilles is “touched by the old man’s dignity” and therefore they can both agree upon a truce. It is through this act that Priam discovers what it is to be human in order to assist Achilles in the same situation.

Part of Priam’s greatness involves having the audacity to seek forgiveness from his enemies so as to maintain values of humanity. Malouf shows that courage and humanity involve seeking forgiveness and reconciling with enemies. Priam has the courage of his convictions rather than using force. In Priam’s case it is making him himself vulnerable to his enemy, exposing himself to incredible danger… and relying on mercy He wants to make his authority vulnerable and try other ways of trying to penetrate Archille’s psyche.   He seeks mercy from his enemy – relying on humility and being plan white-haired old man – going as “simply” a “man” so as to reclaim his nobility and dignity. Achilles approaches Achilles with the intention of “entreat[ing] the killer of his son, with whatever small dignity is left in him”. Malouf demonstrates how reaching out towards others including the enemy during times of difficulty can maintain true human qualities such as humility and dignity.

Despite differences in social status, people can share the same experience of grief and loss in order to broaden their understanding of one another’s situation. Even though Priam and Achilles are enemies, they are going through the same process of grieving over a death of a love one. This common stage in both of their lives does in fact bring them together in overcoming their grief which highlights how humanity can be affected by the dreadful outcomes of being a mortal. Priam approaches Achilles as a father and addresses the fact that “[they] are mortals, not gods” and it is normal that “death is in [their] nature”. He appeals to Achilles for sympathy on both of their parts to have “pity for one another’s losses” and they both realise that they do have something in common. Malouf shows us that it is inevitable that as a mortal, people will suffer from the harsh reality of life; however he highlights how people uniting together with a common reaction will expand their knowledge of the ‘terrible’ things in life and therefore overcome their worries.

Malouf’s novel highlights the ways in which people can be transformed by grief. Discuss.

David Malouf’s ‘Ransom’ is an adaptation of Homer’s Iliad where the twinned deaths of Patroclus and Hector become the causes of grief among the characters of the novel. Malouf presents grief as an adversity in the novel where the different responses exhibit the innate human instincts that define humanity. Grief can cause great sadness where it can trigger the need for retribution, while for others it is chance for the reassessment of life and to see the broader perspective. Finally, grief binds people together as people all suffer the same fate of death where all should show sympathy and pity for others.

Malouf demonstrates that grief can bring out the appalling and destructive qualities of humans and if unchecked leads to barbarous actions. In order to “assuage his grief” of Patroclus’ death, Achilles seeks revenge on Hector. He was “like a dead man” where “the tears he brings fall inwardly” and no matter what “barbaric spectacle” he committed, it was “never enough”. For Achilles, grief was a “burned rage” where he was set on a “downward path” to an “unknown region” where the daily desecration of Hector’s body was an act of defiance for “the rage to fill that would equal at last to the outrage he was committing”. Instead of Achilles simply being an single dimension character, Malouf is able to instil human qualities in Achilles through the multiple view points and time shifts in the novel. By beginning with the dual states within him as a “farmer” as well as a son of an immortal. Readers are able to see that Achilles is “his father’s son” and subject to grief as any other human would. This is further stressed when Malouf returns to the past where he retells the story of Patroclus and Achilles’ friendship to justify Achilles’ actions. Similarly grief as a destructive force is seen through Hecuba who views Achilles with great contempt as the “jackal”, “the noble bully” who wishes to “tear his heart out and eat it raw!” Grief can be a preoccupying negative emotion where it exemplifies the ugliness of humanity.

Grief can be an opportunity to re-examine life and mortality, and to take a different outlook in the future. The death of Hector allows Priam to consider his grief as a catalyst to the acknowledgement it doesn’t have to be “the way they must be, but the way they have turned out”. This “dangerous suggestion” of the world “also subject chance” is revolutionary in this traditional, conservative society where their lives were completely dictated by the “gaze of gods”. Iris’ suggestion of chance to Priam “offers a kind of opening” that it is an “opportunity to act for ourselves” that “might force events into a different course”. Grief of his sons death, allows him to take a chance in doing things differently for once. In order to escape his “kingly sphere” and an attempt to change the “fixed, inevitable”. Through the change in focus from being “at the centre” to “being simply a man” for the body of his son “restored and ransomed”, he is able to remove all the “glittering distractions and disguises” from his “symbolic self”. Malouf emphasises the capability of people for change, even at an old age like Priam who is prompted by the grief of his son’s death to evaluate his life and transform himself.

However, grief can also act as a catalyst for change and become the key to one’s deeper humanity and lead to profound meaning. With a heart that’s “near broke already”, Somax is able to deal with the grief of “the hardships, the losses he has suffered” allows him to see that death was destined “from the very beginning” as mortal are “children of nature” and “we enter only on mortal terms”. The philosophical attitude Somax adopts where “we go on. For all our losses” and the “fleas go on biting” and the “sun comes up again”. The ability to find gratitude in “life and all that comes with it” that is “blessed and then unblessed” which Malouf utilises to share that forgiveness and compassion is superior and a greater attribute of humanity. Though Beauty was to blame for his son’s death, Somax chooses not to fault Beauty as humans are such “contrary creatures” and more than being engrossed in grief, Somax treasures what’s “left” by his son. Malouf uses Beauty as a symbol of the transcendent magnificence of the living world. The mule that is still alive is adored is parallel to the obscure yet delightful things the world provides. Grief often prompts people to focus on themselves, but it is also important to be aware of one’s existence in relation to the outer world.

Malouf shows that grief is able to unite human beings who all share the tragic and unbearably sad consequences that result from mortality . The addition of Somax, a character created by Malouf that is a device to assist in developing the inner human instincts of Priam as a “crack in a door” for him to peer in to see the life of a “ordinary man”.  Somax has a keener understanding of what it is to griev. He told stories which “pain and pleasure were inextricably mixed” and the stories were “so personal” and “so full of emotion”. From these conversations Priam was able to learn from Somax the “merely human” side of himself and is able to find common ground with their shared experiences. Priam attempts “to wring Achilles’ heart” by trying to connect with him on a sense of “fellow feeling” through the similar circumstances as people “should have pity for one another’s losses”.

The awareness of grief and loss bond both Priam and Achilles and enables them to transcend their differences as rivals and share a moment of true humanity. – breaking bread together. Priam brings the “real gift” to Achilles of finding peace and resolution to their ordeal by taking “the lighter bond” of being “man and mortal”. As they meet “man to man”, they face each other as “one poor mortal to another” in recognition of their common fate, and Achilles’ acceptance of the “old man” he will never be. Achilles is also be freed from the “need” and the “obligation” of the grief and his heart was cleared of “the smoky poison that clogged and thickened its every motion”. He is able to “break the spell” through the ransom as well as “cut the knot” that ties the two together and is able to be comfortably “breaking bread” with Priam, where this recovery in appetite is representative of the retrieval of innate humanly instincts as with the essential eating for survival. The common experience of grief is able to shared trait of humanity that can be easily identified.

David Malouf’s ‘Ransom’ is a story that embodies the power of transform through the universal emotion of grief. It is evident that grief has the ability to provoke the best and the worst features of humans as well as being to provide an opening for the unprecedented and novel. The true distinguishing factor of grief is the fact that is it able to bind people together despite differences, as it

How does Malouf redefine the concept of a hero in Ransom?

David Malouf’s “Ransom”, a readaptation of Homer’s “Iliad” redefines the traditional Homeric understanding of the epic ‘hero’,  with a greater focus on the heroism of being human itself. Rather than emphasizing the valour of the classical hero, who is typically a great warrior in Ancient Greek literature, Malouf prioritizes the heroic traits of men whose stories are “untold” and found “in the margins” of the Iliad. Malouf’s definition shifts the focus of ‘heroism’ onto the worth of the human condition itself, the intrinsic emotions and events in life which unites men on a most primal level, notably experiences of grief and loss.

Achilles’ transformation throughout the novel is poignant in communicating Malouf’s definition of a true hero. Malouf presents Achilles in a different manner, focusing on the inner division of the great warrior rather than merely his physical strength. Malouf highlights the existential angst which Achilles experiences as a result of his inability to grieve as he is trapped within a similar metaphoric “knot” that Priam is bound to.  The result of his trepidation causes Achilles to react barbarically to his pain and he is thereby depicted as the anti-hero. This depiction clearly presents Malouf’s rejection of brutality and strength as a heroic quality. Malouf rather prioritises Achilles’ acceptance of Priam’s ransom as the true act which renders him an epic hero. It is thus Achilles’ affirmative response to Priam’s plea to forgiveness and intrinsic human bonds and values which forms his heroic nature. Upon allowing himself to recognize the interdependency of human nature, that even enemies are bound to each other, through their ultimate fate of death, Achilles is transformed, freed from the grief which plagued him and thereby forges his legacy, which is his compassion is allowing Hector an honourable death. Malouf thereby defines true heroism as having the capacity for reconciliation and breaking free from the convention of vengeance rather than being focused on violent deeds as courageous and memorable.

Malouf presents his ideal for heroism through the character of Somax. Somax is essentially, the unconventional hero, whose story is marginalized, but according to Malouf, equally or perhaps more deserving than those of heroes who are glorified for their actions in battle. Through Somax, a fundamentally humanistic approach to heroism is highlighted, whereby a man’s simplicity, connectedness with nature and others as well as his capacity to adapt to the tumultuousness of mortal life is in itself heroic. Somax’s compassionate approach to dealing with loss and grief is extolled as worthy of heroic status. This compassion is symbolised through Somax’s mule Beauty, whom Somax forgives for indirectly killing his son as he acknowledges that seeking revenge on the mule “wouldn’t have brought him back”. It is this ability to forgive and the courage which this action takes that is praised as the definition of real heroism in “Ransom”.

Malouf praises Priam’s audacious attempt to break free from traditional and stereotypical constraints. His focus on self-transformation is presented as morally heroic. Priam recognises the role of fate in human life, that all of mankind is bound to a similar fate, death, which is the “fee paid in advance” to enjoy a mortal life.  Malouf thereby uses Priam’s awareness and acceptance of this mortal vulnerability to emphasize his courageous in asserting human agency and subjecting himself to the unpredictability of “chance”. In doing “something new” and something “impossible”, Priam exhibits a memorable type of bravery by taking responsibility for what flows from his mortality and daring to create an alternate legacy for himself, “entreating [his] son’s killer” for forgiveness and ransoming him back. It is through this audacious act that Priam can himself become a “man remade”, freeing himself from the metaphoric “knot” in which he is tied. Priam escapes the “ceremonial stillness” of his kingship to become a man who is in touch with his humanity and can express it so. Malouf thus characterises Priam transforming into the unconventional, moral hero by prioritizing chance and seeking forgiveness from his enemy.

Achilles’ transformation throughout the novel is poignant in communicating Malouf’s definition of a true hero. Malouf presents Achilles in a different manner, focusing on the inner division of the great warrior rather than merely his physical strength. Malouf highlights the existential angst which Achilles experiences as a result of his inability to grieve as he is trapped within a similar metaphoric “knot” that Priam is bound to.  The result of his trepidation causes Achilles to react barbarically to his pain and he is thereby depicted as the anti-hero. This depiction clearly presents Malouf’s rejection of brutality and strength as a heroic quality. Malouf rather prioritises Achilles’ acceptance of Priam’s ransom as the true act which renders him an epic hero. It is thus Achilles’ affirmative response to Priam’s plea to forgiveness and intrinsic human bonds and values which forms his heroic nature. Upon allowing himself to recognize the interdependency of human nature, that even enemies are bound to each other, through their ultimate fate of death, Achilles is transformed, freed from the grief which plagued him and thereby forges his legacy, which is his compassion is allowing Hector an honourable death. Malouf thereby defines true heroism as having the capacity for reconciliation and breaking free from the convention of vengeance rather than being focused on violent deeds as courageous and memorable.

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Ransom Written by Lois Duncan Essay

1831 Words8 Pages

Ransom Written by Lois Duncan

Setting: The story takes place in New Mexico
Time: The story occurs during the winter.

Characters: Buck is one of the three people who are kidnapping the children. He is tempered easily. He doesn’t really care for others much. Rita is Buck’s wife. She is not very pretty and gets drug into schemes by Buck. She feels he will leave her if she doesn’t follow directions. Juan is the other kidnapper who does more of the dirty work. He is the one who calls the parents for the money. He’s the one who shot the bus driver. Glenn is one of the boys who were kidnapped. He’s very popular and has friends and thinks that nobody dislikes him. He’s handsome and very athletic. Glenn’s brother Bruce…show more content…

Jesse and Dexter talk. She tells him that the night before she heard Rita and Buck saying that he killed their bus driver. She gets scared and starts to cry. After hearing this, the boys decide that they need to leave. Back at Valley Gardens the parents are receiving the phone calls from Juan regarding the ransom. All the parents are discussing with their spouses the amount of the ransom are making plans to get the money except. But, Dexter’s uncle still hasn’t heard about the kidnapping yet. The parents are also faced with the question of whether or not to call the police. Back at the cabin, the kids finally decide that Marianne will distract Rita while Buck’s gone so Jesse can sneak and get the keys to the storage room to unlock the boys later. When Buck comes home, he and Rita go to sleep and the girls unlock the boys. The plan is to have Dexter hotwire the car with Glenn’s help, and for Bruce to transport messages between the boys and girls. Jesse and Marianne go back to the bunk beds and await the message from Bruce that they are ready when she hears Buck get out of bed and go into the kitchen. She tries to get Buck to go back to bed when the door comes open slowly and in walks Bruce. Bruce says quietly that they got the car hotwired, then he sees Buck. Jesse shouts ‘run’ and all three boys take off down the hill. The girls screamed when a pistol shot rang out throughout the forest. They saw a dark figure drop onto the ground. Once in

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