The Dead of the Night

1 January 2017

The best novels stand the test of time, providing the reader with an interesting story as well as conveying important themes and ideas” In John Marsden’s sequel to “Tomorrow When the War Began”, set in rural modern day Australia, comes his second novel of seven “The Dead of the Night”. John Marsden’s “TDOTN” has stood the test of time, by providing the readers with an interesting story as well as conveying important themes and ideas.

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The themes and ideas of “Death and Destruction”, “Relationships and Friendships” and “Warfare and Survival”, are used to convey important messages to the readers, by relating back to the teenagers life, and teenage audience. Using narrative told in first person narration by teenager Ellie, Marsden reinforces this by using styles and techniques such as Humour and Juxtaposition, to convey important messages to the readers and teenage audience, thus making the novel an interesting story, and withstand the test of time, by conveying important themes and ideas. The theme of Death and Destruction is discussed in the novel “TDOTN”.

The first encounter with Death and Destruction was the incident in Butter Cup Lane (Ch4). While the group was hiding in Butter Cup Lane to ambush a convoy of soldiers, a foot patrol of soldiers went to urinate in the bushes right where Homer and Chris were hiding. Homer grabbed a shot gun and shot the soldier, wounding him. “Jesus help me without thinking about it, I deliberately pulled the trigger” – pg 60 Ch4. Ellie is quoting that she didn’t want to think about putting the wounded soldier out of his misery, because she was afraid that she may back out if she logically contemplated this idea through and through her mind.

Marsden uses Ellie’s train of “no thought” to convey important messages to the readers for the reason that many teenagers also do the same with their actions and don’t think things through appropriately. This is how John Marsden, uses the theme of “Death and Destruction” to make his novel withstand the test of time, by providing the reader with an interesting story as well as conveying important themes and ideas.

The theme of “Relationships and Friendships” is also discussed in the novel, “TDOTN”, the initial encounter of relationships and friendships was when Homer declared a group meeting in the first chapter, to get the group back n track. The meeting helped the group come together as one again, after they were feeling sorry for themselves, for abandoning Kevin and Corrie. “We’ve spun our head for weeks. We’ve been upset and we’ve been scared. It’s time for us to take charge of our heads again, to be brave again to do the things we have to do” – pg 8-9 Ch1. This means that the group has been moping around for a very long time. They have been upset and scared of what lies ahead of them. Homer, who seems to be taking on a leadership role, says that it’s time for them to get back on track.

To find Kevin and Corrie, and to see if any other guerrilla groups exists like them. Marsden conveys important themes and ideas, through the theme of “Relationships and Friendships”, making it an interesting story, because teenagers are also experimenting with their friends and relationships too, just like Ellie and Lee, and this makes teens question whether they’d in fact do the same for their own friends. John Marsden uses the current day to day dramas, to provide his readers with an interesting novel, in the way that the teenagers deal with their problems in their circumstances and conditions.

This illustrates that “TDOTN” can withstand the test of time, providing the readers with an interesting story as well as conveying important themes and ideas. Marsden’s novel “TDOTN” can stand the test of time, by providing the readers with an interesting story as well as conveying important themes and ideas, through the theme of “Warfare and Survival”. Issues of these circumstances, include surviving the attack on Harvey’s Heroes, living in Hell and surviving all the staking and hiding out all over Wirrawee. One specific incident which highlights this theme is Butter Cup Lance.

The teenagers before they attack the convoy of soldiers sit down and play their tactics and discuss what will happen and the procedures if something goes terribly wrong. Their dialogue and speech also shows their fear of the war and their survival instincts. “And suppose a patrol had jumped us? Suppose we’d been caught with sawn off shot guns? We’d all be put up against a tree and shot and you’d have 5 peoples blood on your hands” – pg 92. Ellie is yelling at Homer, because he had gone against the group and what they’d agreed upon and brought the shot guns anyway, this jeopardising their own survival.

In addition to this Homer has broken their trust and put their survival at stake, this relates back to teenagers for the reason that friendships are built on trust. This is how Marsden uses the theme of “Warfare and Survival” to convey important themes and ideas, and provide the readers, with an interesting story, thus making “TDOTN” stand the test of time. In “TDOTN” Marsden uses the narrative structure of first person narration to effectively provide the reader with an interesting story, as well as allowing “TDOTN” to stand the test of time.

Marsden uses Ellie’s own words and experiences to convey her feelings and emotions to the readers by using the authentic voice of a seventeen year old female. Ellie uses “I, we” and slang and colloquial languages, to tell her story. A good example of this is when Ellie is bringing everything up to date at the end of the novel on pg 270. “The only thing that I have to write to bring this up to date is about Chris. And what I put won’t be very logical. I’m so mixed up with my feelings about it all. ” The narrative also follows the structure of intertwined action, storyline and drama.

Ellie sometimes gets off track with future endeavours and ideas. This is how Marsden used first person narration to provide the readers with an interesting story, by using the authentic voice of a seventeen year old female, therefore making the novel stand the test of time. The techniques of Humour is exercised in the novel “TDOTN”, by breaking the tense atmosphere with humorous instances, to provide the reader with an interesting story, thus making “TDOTN” stand the test of the time. There are numerous examples which implement Humour in the novel.

One of them being, when Major Harvey from the Harvey’s Heroes campsite was introducing his second in command, “Captain Killen” (Punn) to the teenagers. “In a few moments I will introduce to you my second in command, Captain Killen” – pg 109. Marsden used a Punn (form of Humour) to play on the words of the second in commands name. Another example was when the group walked into Major Harvey’s tent for the first time, and was shocked to discover how big and luxurious it was. “Major Harvey’s tent was so big by our standards” – pg 106.

The teenagers were also shocked to discover that Major Harvey slept with a mosquito net. “Bit of a luxury that; “Fact is, I’ve got rather sensitive skin” – pg 106. Marsden uses Humour to provide the readers with an interesting story, by lightening our mood; he uses Punn and Humour to make fun of Major Harvey in the way that he is meant to be a tough leader/soldier and this shows the complete opposite of him. It shows that Major Harvey is high maintenance. This is how Marsden illustrates Humour in “TDOTN”, by providing the reader with an interesting story, thus withstanding the test if time.

John Marsden also uses the style and technique of Juxtaposition to provide his readers with an interesting story, by comparing Harvey’s Heroes efforts, to the group of teenagers in the war. “Huh! Some of them are weird! They entertained me for hours last night, telling me what heroes they are. Seem like their biggest thrill was setting fire to a truck that had been broken down. They’d seen the soldiers leave it there and drive off in a Ute, so danger level was two on a scale of nought to a hundred” – pg 114-115.

Ellie and Homer find this funny because Harvey’s Heroes is a co-ordinated group of ADULTS not teenagers, and the group have dealt much more damage than Harvey’s Heroes. Marsden compares the teenagers in Hell to a group of animals, feeding, collecting food, doing it tough and hiding. “Burrows among the rocks”, “Running wild in the night”, Ellie quotes that they are acting like nocturnal animals. Marsden uses Juxtaposition to provide his readers with an interesting story, between our group of teenagers and their successes in the war compared to Harvey’s Heroes. This illustrates that “TDOTN” can withstand the test of time.

In conclusion “TDOTN” can stand the test of time by providing the reader with an interesting story as well as conveying the reader with important themes and ideas. Marsden does so by using the important themes and ideas of “Death and Destruction”, “Relationships and Friendships” and “Warfare and Survival”. John Marsden uses styles and techniques of first person narration, Humour and Juxtaposition to bring an interesting story together as well as to convey important themes and ideas to the readers. Therefore this illustrates that John Marsden’s “The Dead of the Night” can stand the test of time.

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