Journeys into new worlds are often characterise by both problems and opportunities. Transitioning into a new world is a complex process which is defined by possibilities and difficulties. The novel “The story of Tom Brennan” by J.C Burke explores the transitional process into a new world as a catalyst for a beneficial change and the emotional barriers and resistance to change the protagonist Tom Brennan experiences. Comparably the film “Hurricane”, by Jewish Norman portrays the negative process of transitioning into a new paradigm. Furthermore the author Simon Armitage’s poem “Kid” exemplifies the beneficial aspects of transitioning into a new world as it may develop one’s skill set providing them with confidence and empowerment. If one is forced by the actions of others to move into a new world, conflict or resentment may occur. J.C Burke portrays this theme of resistance to change, which is mainly highlighted through the character Tom Brennan throughout chapters one and two.
The novel immediately illustrates Tom’s pessimistic nature through the internal monologue and sarcastic and sacrilegious remark, “announced my grandmother, a self appointed messenger of God”. It emphasizes the bitterness and resentment he has for the whole situation, the move from Mumbilli to Coghill to live with his grandmother angers him as he has been displaced from a place he loves. Also Tom uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism as he tries to deal with changes to his worldview. This resistance to change is further emphasized through the juxtaposition of, “I didn’t want to open my eyes and see…I wanted to be back home having a barbie. Having our normal Australia day, Our Brennan Australia Day, the way we always did”, this contrast of the past and present emphasizes Tom’s sense of loss and vulnerability and fear of transitioning into the new world.
Burke uses a biblical allusion “God knows, Father Vincent, I pray to Saint Jude every day to make her situation more, more-tolerable”, as Saint Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, the allusion reflects the sense of alienation, ostracism and depression confronting the Brennan’s mainly Tom. Furthermore, the combination of the metaphor and colour symbolism, “I named it the cave because it’s so dark and brown” creates a depressing mood reflecting Tom’s anger and bitterness at what he feels to be the oppressive world of his grandmother’s house. However the ‘cave’ provides refuge for Tom who finds comfort in isolation. Hurricane
Comparably to the Story of Tom Brennan, the protagonist, unable to adapt to his new paradigm due to the emotional barriers he encounters. Norman Jewison’s through the film Hurricane demonstrates that facing ones inner fear allows one to overcome emotional barriers. The protagonist ‘Hurricane Carter’ is an infamous African American boxer who faces racial prejudice and is imprisoned due to false allegations of homicide. The close up shot of his blood teary eyes conveys an inner thirst for vengeance which leads him to face psychological barriers such as schizoprehenia and fear which essentially creates his hatred and restricts his transition and adaption into the new world.
Jewison skilfully uses a high angle shot which belittles him within his dark prison cell and the panorama shot of the prison evokes his immense suffering and loss of self identity, effectively portraying the difficulties faced when entering a new world. Additionally the diegetic crescendo of the instruments used creates a chaotic atmosphere and makes the audience feel a sense of urgency, which effectively accentuates the broken man as a result of this transition and unfamiliarity with the new world. Furthermore, ‘Hurricane Carter’s’ unwillingness to adapt to the new world is illustrated through his rejection of companionship. Tom Brennan
Transitions into new worlds can allow one to develop new strengths and possibilities. J.C Burke illustrates this idea through showing Tom’s transition from being hesitant and resistant to accepting the transition and the new strengths and possibilities he develops through entering a new world. The dialogue and repetition of silences between Tom and Kylie suggests that the silent reflection of Tom’s acceptance into the world and accentuates his acceptance despite the difficult past, consequently he has gained a sense of empowerment and ability to achieve more in life. Moreover, Burkes use of the simile “Like layers of skin falling onto the track, leaving an empty shell” demonstrates Tom is leaving behind the past in order to enter the new world, this shows he is overcome with a new sense of strength.
The simile further emphasizes layers of skin falling onto the tracks, leaving an empty shell which is symbolic of leaving behind things in his life which is of no importance. Moreover, the recurring motif of water is evident through the line, “I pushed off hard, springing high out of the water. For once, I felt free and light”. The recurring imagery of water reflects Tom’s healing process as he overcomes the emotional scars allowing him to adapt to the new world and feel empowered with new strengths and possibilities. Furthermore the emotive language, “Everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves and that was the main thing”, suggests that encountering new experiences in his new world has provided him with drive. Burke exemplifies his willingness to embrace and accept this new world Tom has transitioned into and has allowed him to develop new strengths and possibilities.
The idea of entering new worlds develops ones skills set and leads an individual to being more experienced and confident is explored throughout the poem, “kid”. The poem uses an extended metaphor of the Batman/Robin relationship figuratively suggests his new confidence and the beginning of his transition. The metaphor symbolizes the changing nature of Batman and Robin and Robins transition into a new world away from his father Batman which represents the coming of new experiences and his sense of confidence. The simile ‘he was like a father to me’ and the past tense of ‘was’ conveys the beneficial separation from his father and transition into a new realm has provided him with a new skill set and has allowed him to gain more confidence, this suggests that although transition into a new world may be complex it provides an individual with opportunities.
Furthermore the confidence gain as a result of the transition into a new world is accentuated through the effective use of the visceral imagery and confident tone of “Batman, it makes a marvellous picture:you without a shadow, stewing over”. The line “Without a shadow, stewing over” allows the audience to visualise Robin free of authority and experiencing new aspects of life. Also it is evident that he has gained a new confidence due to the newly developed skill set as a result of the beneficial transition. The contrast of the first line, “Batman big shot” and the last line, “Now I’m the real wonder boy” reflects the journey throughout the poem of Robin being separated from Batman and transitioning into a new world. It further accentuates his confidence as he has found himself and developed a new skill set, his separation from batman has led him to new experiences while transitioning to a new world, which may be positive or negative experiences.
Intensely provocative experiences of transitions are often challenging and difficult, they offer individuals opportunities to change, but also can become stifling and hostile. However, overcoming the adversity hindered in these transitions, growth and a state of enlightenment can be reached. Growth and development of individuals are result of engaging with the new world in transition process. By perceiving the broader world and society individuals come to terms with their own positon in it. Both The Story of Tom Brennan by J.C Burke and Bhutan’s Enlightenment Experiment (2008) by Brook Larmer explores the crisis of circumstances which forces individuals and groups to leave their familiar zones. To enter the broad world. They must confront the inevitable changes to their worlds head on, to overcoming the obstacles and barriers, or be paralysed by the indecision and transformation. They must rediscover beliefs, belongings and realise their egoistic actions and change perspectives. By facing changes head on, whether through confrontation, acknowledgement, or transformations; individuals can come to better understand themselves and empower themselves to deal with the new world. And altering attitudes and beliefs in life individuals grow develop and become responsible for their lives.
Most significant and challenging enriching to any successful transitions is the way in which the new experiences confront individuals’ attitudes and beliefs. The individual experiences growth in new world and come to terms with their values. In The Story of Tom Brennan, Tom’s challenges growth lies in his gradual recovery from the traumatic catastrophe of his brother’s drink driving incident which left Tom’s beliefs of his family shattered. His reaction to such chaotic and radical change in their social position is one of self-loathing, characterised through the extended metaphor of darkness, “In the dark I could see the grime… I could feel it pasted crawling on my skin,” emphasising the despair and melancholy which fills Tom’s heart, and the sense of paralysis. Burke explores Tom’s progress of transition maturity through the physical motif of running, initiated by Uncle Brendan, “Start running tomorrow, I’ve never seen you so… stationary.” Being ‘stationary’ is a symbol of Tom’s inability to transform due to lack of courage, egoistic selfish state of avoiding the truthwhich is juxtaposed strongly with the arduous journey of changes where, “the weight of my thoughts shedding with each kilometre,” in which physical exercise is both a tool utilised by Tom to attain emotional catharsis and a way to develop him to metaphysically ‘move forward’. Finally, Tom’s transition is evident, discovers his responsibility within the family and becomes capable of agency and self-empowerment. This is vividly communicated in the repetition, “faster, faster, faster… like trying to find the gap to break through.”Tom overcomes his past finds his position in the new world and embraces it rapidly which empowers him to grow as a character and reach a state of enlightenment. Therefore, maturity is the process by which an individual face challenges entering the new world and discovers his own values.
Likewise, Bhutan’s Enlightenment Experimentis a National Geographic feature article on the emerging nation of Bhutan, caught between India and China The nation of Bhutan which is undergoing an incredible transition, attempting, “to leap from the Middle Ages to the 21st century without losing its balance.” The article explores the challenges of making such transition for an entire society and the need to balance between tradition and modernityBhutan’s engagement with the world and the realisation that development requires balance between its own culture and the global one. Loss of cultural identity and moral compass are consequences of not striving to balance. These are perfectly captured in the anecdotal expression, “Some kids have become so westernized … a girl even changed her name to Britney” and in the juxtaposition, “theft—once absent in a country with few locked doors is becoming more common…” Such actions emphasise the woes of rapid changesplacing its own nation as the center of the wordleaving a country deeply vulnerable. Moreover, elder generation finds obstructions to commit to modernity which is effectively highlighted in the humorous and convicting tone, “Every time the wind blows, it takes our prayers straight to the heavens. No machines required.”However, more importantly the article depicts the benefits from successfully opening up into the world, without abandoning the old. Larmar examines factual and anecdotal statistics of Bhutan’s undeniable benefit of change that “literacy rate from 10% to 60%,” and that “life expectancy nationwide from 43 years to 66…” following the King’s reformation of the feudal system via “The gift of democracy.” As such, Bhutan’s transition across the nation demonstrates that transitions are able to shift fundamental make ups of how individuals engage with the world, and brings with it both boons and benisons. Bhutan’s nation matures during the embracement with the rest of the world and readjusts its position on a global scale which brings with is boons and benisons.
However not all transitions are made successful can achieve maturitybecause some individuals are blinded by their problems egoistic perceptions and are made short-sighted by their immediate concerns. An exemplar is Kath who is traumatised by the incident which leads to her refusal to accept the truth of Daniel’s criminal accountability. This is saliently captured in the synaesthesia, “She smells… Her anger turning to despair…” A feeling of decay is conveyed through the sensory of smell; without the will to transit, she is tortured and confined by the forced circumstances. Unlike Kath, Kylie does not internalise her pain or experience physical paralysis, but externalises it such as her “sever hair cut”. The synecdoche of self-destructive hair cutting is symbolic of breaking ties with past, family and bond. In contrast, perfectly encapsulating Bhutan’s transition is the anecdote of “seven-year-old Kinzang Norbu” whose hobby of Break Dancing to hip hop becomes an extended metaphor of Bhutan’s renaissance. Larmer portrays the incredulity of monks watching Nurbu as the “whirling reincarnation of a Buddhist saint,” Larmer expresses that transition is not to be feared but to be embraced, for there is always balance to be found in change. This is again captured through Norbu, whom seamlessly transitions from, “his combed hair, buckled shoe… into Nike high-tops … homages to global youth culture,” and sees no need to decide between the Benevolent King of Bhutan, and the King of Rock, Elivis Presley – as Larmer states, “Norbu sees no need to give up one or the other.” Consequently, these two juxtaposing examples demonstrate that individuals react differently to challenges and confrontations; but a successful transition is only achieved through overcoming these difficulties. These two juxtaposing examples demonstrate that engagement with the outside world is crucial which allows individual and society to perceive their predisposition and achieve maturity.
Therefore, both composers have used different experiences to demonstrate transitions are capable of informing, challenging and transforming individual’s beliefs, attitudes and their perceptions of the world. Maturity requires individual to admit their egoistic belief and open up to new worlds and values which ultimately enables beneficial changes and development. Whether through physical journey or balance of values, they all reveal the power of transitions to enhance personal qualities change misleading beliefs and attitudes and inspire growth.