Book Report on the Humming Bird Tree
My Book Report Title: The Humming Bird Tree Author: Ian MacDonald Publisher: Macmillan Education Date of publication: 2004 The main characters are Alan Holmes, Kaiser and Jaillin. The story takes place in Trinidad, in the earlier part of the twentieth century, while it was under colonial rule. To be more specific the plot occurs in a Trinidadian village, in the countryside. Summary of the story: The Humming Bird Tree points out the many Joys and ills of human nature. A Caucasian boy, Alan, an Indian boy Kaiser and his sister Jaillin seek to form a friendship in a society stricken by racial and class prejudice.
The story is centered on Alan and Jaillin, who in their innocence, embark upon new discoveries in nature, while at the same time discover their love that could never be because of social and racial prejudice within the society. They come to this realization when Jaillin is relieved of her duties because they were caught showing their affections.
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Years later, they meet again and realize that their love and the rules of society surpass their love for each other. The Humming Bird Tree in its entirety highlights the harsh realities of class structure. The major characters are:
Alan Holmes: He is a white Trinidadian boy of British origin. In the earlier part of the book, Alan is approaching his twelfth birthday. He is the narrator of the novel and the writer portrays him as sensitive and quite. Alan has a keen interest in the environment, but because he is out of his element, he depends upon Kaiser and Jaillin to teach him about it. Alan believes that he is in love with Jaillin and looks up to Kaiser because of his knowledge of the environment and his physical abilities. I am not fond of Alan’s character. He is very hypocritical.
It is only when he is with Kaiser nd Jaillin that he expresses his friendship openly, as at other times he doesn’t treat them as equals, yielding the colonial way, in front of his white friends. He is also deceptive. When he tries to force his religion on Kaiser and Jaillin, then when a serious argument stir sup he reassures Kaiser of their friendship, with hidden intentions. He really doesn’t respect others believes. Kaiser: He is a teenage Indian boy. He supports his family by working as a yard boy for Alan’s family. He loves his job and takes great pride in it. This earns him a lot of respect and admiration from Alan’s parents.
At the same time he is very energetic, knowledgeable about the environment, adventurous and athletic. This gains him a lot of respect and admiration from Alan. Kaiser at times may come off as being selfish as he tends to think about him-well being before others. I don’t his character because of his attitude. He is sometimes very crude in his use of language with both peers and adults alike, even though much of his behavior can be blamed on the way he was admires her beauty. Although she is attracted to Alan, she is more aware of the social and racial boundaries that exist in their society, than he does.
She is very comfortable with her body and therefore has no shame in showing her body as she does ever so often. It is this confident nature and beauty that Alan finds attractive. I admire her character because through out the book she grew. In her younger years even though she was aware of social and class prejudice she still allowed her emotions to influence her decisions. In the end this caused Kaiser and her own Job. In chapter 5 when she meets Alan again for the first time in awhile, she makes it clear to Alan that she is not the same naive little girl, who was ‘head over heels’ in love with im.
She is now well aware of the racial and social barriers that exist, and knows now that she must accept them. She also encourages Alan to do the same. Alan’s mother: Mrs. Holmes is projected as a loving and caring mother for the most part. She cannot understand why Alan wants to be friends with Kaiser and Jaillin, when he has suitable friends to play with. She is a constant reminder of the colonial ideas of the island. She is desperate foe Alan to conform and recognize his social position. As a result she forbids him to invite Kaiser and Jaillin to the party. Even though she gives
Alan all the love and care he needs she failed as a mother to allow Alan to pass judgment and make decisions on his own instead of forcing him to surrender to the status co. Alan’s Father: Generally Mr. Holmes is a very kind, fair and likeable man. He is the supervisor of a sugar plantation. He is well-liked and respected by workers and overseers. Sometimes he brought Kaiser and Alan, more so Kaiser because he wants to train him to be an overseer. Even though Mr. Holmes was so tolerant with the workers, and though so well liked by them, knows his place in society and only ocializes with his class.
I like his character because after Jaillin and Kaiser were dismissed, Alan was trying to put all the blame on the two Indian children. Mr. Holmes told Alan not to try and pretend but should accept some responsibility foe his actions, even though he is an upholder of the colonial ways. Old Boss: He is the grandfather of Kaiser and Jaillin. He is well respected by the villagers and their father. Old Boss is seen as a success because he was able to negotiate with the government to give him a plot of land for himself. He often gives Kaiser and Jaillin dvice and sends Kaiser to school after he was fired.
He also provided a home for Jaillin. I admire his character because he is very generous. Instead of keeping his prosperity to himself, he shares it with the village. He showed this when he held a fete and a cockfght to celebrate a good crop year. He is also an advocate of the advancement of young Indians. He demonstrated this when he sent Kaiser to school. The minor characters are: Alice: She is the Holme’s house keeper and is a Negro with Amerindian blood. She is the barrier between the Holme’s and Kaiser and Jaillin’s world. She keeps all other ervants from crossing the line, while she herself remains mindful of the social barriers.
She is also very spiritual and superstitious. Tanner Evans: He is a white boy and Alan’s neighbor. He is the preferred friend of Alan by his mother. He is not liked because of his manners but for his race and social standing. I don’t like his character because he pushed a wedge between Alan and Kaiser and Jaillin when he attacked Alan a bout their friendship. Ramlal: He is the owner of the parlor in the village. He cassava gin, made by his wife. He is also a very interesting character in the book. Jess: This Negro woman showed up one day with a donkey in the village. She was born in St. Kitts and is very old.
She is quite cantankerous and is feared by almost everyone including Old Boss. She is well known for imitating birds. She is also notorious for another talent she posses. She can stop a baby before it comes. The Cover: On the cover is a big cassia tree with heavy silvery branches laden with yellow blossom. There are a lot of humming birds darting and flashing around the tree, sucking at the sweet blossoms. In front of the tree stood two of the three major characters, Kaiser and Jaillin. The cover is very attractive. Evaluation: I recommend this book for all age groups but especially for children my age.
The vivid description, language technique and colourful language coupled with the portrayal of realistic characters helped to make the story more real. This book also gave an overview of post- colonialism within the Caribbean. This story explored themes such as: difficulties of growing up, class, racial and religious prejudice, love and family life and the colonial society. As a young child it is easier to form friendships than as an adolescent, as factors such as your class and race become an ssue. MacDonald presented the post-colonial society of Trinidad as the protagonist.
It prevented Alan the main character from freely sharing in love and friendship with Jaillin and Kaiser. The challenge Alan faced tested his character and is innocence as a child but also as a young man who the world changed instead of allowing him to form his own Judgments and make his own decisions. The writer was effective in his use of the language technique of foreshadowing to explain this idea. He exhibited this technique when he used the symbol of the two marbleus that Alan desired to apture but lost his chance, to foretell the chance of love with Jaillin that he will too lose because of class and race prejudice.
Though childhood should be fun and joyous MacDonald makes it clear to the reader that in reality there are forces that exist that can make the process of growing up a very unhappy time. MacDonald incorporated the idea of class and race division with the theme of family life. He approached this theme by creating characters that showed the effect of race and class division. One of the main characters Alan is the product of being grown up in high society. He lived a very sheltered life. His basic needs were easily met, with enough resources to allow him to achieve his goals and aspirations.
He was given the best education available which gave him more opportunities to reach his goals. Whereas Kaiser and Jaillin are the products of the lower class of society. Even though they have parents they still have to work to help bring in some income for the family. They were not sent to school and they couldn’t read. They practically had to raise themselves, with a little help from their grandfather. Even though they had dreams and aspirations because of the class and race division the likelihood of them eaching these goals are very low.
So these characters created by MacDonald are indeed a true reflection of the effects that race and class division can have on the family life. I think that the use of explicit language by the writer was inappropriate. He could have used euphemism in some cases and it still would have had the same and innocence of love in childhood could not be tainted by race as was the case between Alan and Jaillin. Unfortunately as they got older the influence of the world around them created a wedge between them and destroyed their love.
MacDonald lso examined the colonial society and its effect on individuals primarily children. Within the society there was a sort of tug of war between the right of coloured people to govern themselves and to decide their destiny against the status quo of a white dominated society. This tug of war created internal conflicts amongst the three main characters. Alan had to face the tough decision of hoe to maintain his friendship with the two Indian children, while bearing the expectations of the post-colonial society as his heart and innocence of childhood forces him to behave another way.
Kaiser in his wn way suffered internal conflict. He had to struggle against the colonial system while using it to his advantage. Jaillin in her own way experiences internal conflict. Her love for Alan has made her more willing to give up her own religion. This was shown when Alan’s parents went to the beach house and the three were at the Sea Madonna debating religious beliefs. Alan takes his place as any other child but he chose to conform to the world instead of challenging it. He avoided the confrontation between whites and coloureds in a post-colonial world by taking the easiest way out.
This is the option that most teenagers would have taken because no one wants to have to choose between their family and friends in order to keep up their status. Therefore I sympathize with Alan for his weakness and commend the author Ian MacDonald for opening our eyes to the racial victimization of children in a brutal and cruel world. This book is also appropriate for the syllabus for children my age because it sheds light on the whole idea of class and race prejudice that was experienced in earlier years and the implications it now has for us, the future generation.