The Boat People: Literary Analysis Essay Sample

Published: 2023-10-31
The Boat People: Literary Analysis Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature review World literature Historical literature
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 2014 words
17 min read

The Boat people is a novel that explores the life of immigrants who struggle to contend with new life in Canada where they have migrated to. The characters face difficulties here that range from oppression to racial discrimination and segregation from their families. The struggle to adapt to a new life in the countries force them to seek adaptation strategies that will enable them to survive and respond to the difficulties that they might encounter. It also explores the seemingly endless cycle of finding an identity in a jurisdiction where there are stringent rules governing immigrants.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

In line with the title of the book, the novel covers the literal meaning. It begins with an intuitive introduction to the characters of the book. For a modern noir, this would get taken to be the reprieve that is usually at the very end of novels. However, the author embarks on narrating very well the resultant outcome of the journey by the migrants. The intention being to portray them as the people who had found reprieve on a boat. They were using the boat as their vessel of escaping from another world of suffering. The necessity of focusing on the people on the boat portrays the sole purpose of the novel. It is to circumnavigate around the lives of the people who were illegal migrants.

Mahindan, an immigrant, arrives in Canada with his son, Sellian, by boat, having hopes of starting life in the new country. However, he encounters a rude shock when the immigrants are taken as prisoners at the port. The men are handcuffed and taken to a prison separate from the women and the children. He endures suffering as he is separated from his son and forced to live the life of a prisoner. However, his hopes of living a good experience in Canada relinquished by the fact that there is an organization called the Tamil Alliance, which helps immigrants. The Tamil Alliance hires lawyers who assist in the documentation and registering of immigrants to become refugees. It is because the immigrants have no rights according to the Canadian laws unless they became refugees.

Mahindan visualizes on the prospect of his son Sellian learning English. It comes after he observed the ease at which the guards and some of the nurses moved and communicated freely in Canada despite being some of them being descents of the Tamil. It is one of the mechanisms that most of the refugees had adopted that made it difficult to distinguish them from full-blooded Canadians. He reminisces on his grandfather’s educational background in London, which had made him acquire the English language. Not only had the language provided him with impressive communication skills, but it also enabled him to be employed as a civil servant. Therefore the English Language is one of the mechanisms that the immigrants considered courteous and useful to their existence and survival in Canada.

In his life in prison, Mahindan embarks on learning the English language. He dedicates much of his time to learning through watching and also attempting to write. Mr.Gigovaz, who is representing him, encounters Priya, who is a law student who fits the characteristics of a Tamil. After a bit of interrogation, he goes ahead to assume that she can speak the Tamil language fluently, thus enjoining her on his Legal duties of helping immigrants. It later becomes clear that Priya can’t speak nor understand the Tamil language, which would have been useful as an interpretation tool when interacting with the immigrants. It is a clear illustration of the complete assimilation that the immigrants undergo to conceal their identity in a bid to enjoy full Liberty in Canada.

In the same vein, Priya fails to stand up for her people. She gets forced to enjoy Mr.Gigovaz’s duties while complaining that her internship is at stake. Having a descent from Sri Lanka, it gets expected that she be on the frontline to champion for the rights of the migrants, but every action she does proves contrary to the expectations. It added to the fact that she is a law student is not enough to persuade her to delve deeper and seek more clarity in the matters to help them. She, however, chooses to focus on corporate law, which she claims is indeed her passion. From the text, the reaction by Mr.Gigovaz upon discovering Priya’s descent speaks volumes about the expectations that he had of her.

Grace Nakamura highlights the difficulties in employment that the refugees contend within Canada. It gets illustrated by the realization that her employment records from the immigration and Refugee Board were missing. It even becomes more shocking when she has been a worker in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure for over 26 years. Additionally, denial of proprietary rights is rampant. It has been the case with the land which was owned by Grace’s family but was subsequently grabbed by the government. Surprisingly is the fact that there is documentation by way of a title deed to prove that they were the real owners of the land. Grace sees it prudent to let everything go while Kumi finds it hard to let go and suggest they strive to get back what they lost.

Delays in the identification of the migrants, which seems like a tactic by the Canadian government to find fault and deport them is prone. It especially is illustrated by allegations that the Tamil Tigers had sought asylum in Canada to use it as a platform to reorganize their war against the Sri Lankan government. Such coupled with the fact that the Tamil Tigers had a long history of dealing with firearms and at the same time, we’re involved in money laundering overseas raised eyebrows. The minister involved made a public address meant to indicate that the case of the 509 immigrants was one involving public safety of the Canadian citizens rather than immigration due to the suspicions of terrorism that the migrants posed in the country.

The Lawyer fronted by the Tamil Alliance occasions difficulties in his quest to seek the matter of his clients adjudicated quickly. Some of the challenges reflected include the detention of his clients in prison cells. The migrants get merged with real criminals. This move by the Canadian government beats logic and serves to portray the migrants as real criminals seeking asylum in the country. Moreover, the whole issue has been politicized, thus involving many constraining procedures meant to lean towards the migrant’s injustice.

The family has been an integral issue in the novel especially because the migrants mainly move as a whole family.,r difficulties have been occasioned by the refugees who seemingly have a hard time trying to balance their family life and their social life. At some point, Grace complains of how she won’t be able to repair the roof and, at the same time, have time for her daughter, who gets scheduled to do an examination. The main reason is that she is aware of the perks that will arise if she fails to show up at work for she is an immigrant. However, the bond between families is powerful among the refugees. Such a relationship has very much contributed to their meaningful living in Canada. It gets depicted by various characters such as Priya. They live under the same roof with both his fundamental and extended family. In this case, is her uncle Mr. Ramesh.

Similarly, Grace houses her whole family, which enhances the bond. The critical role that this sort of living plays is the cohesion that it brings and also the sense of livelihood despite being in a foreign country. Interaction among the family members has stabilized their growth and also has enabled them to respond better to the difficulties that they face in their day to day interactions.

Fred introduces the theme of nepotism and corruption in a rather friendly manner. He manages to get high paying jobs and at the same time lending a hand to his old-time friend Grace. This move has seen Grace rise through the ranks of positions in her places of employment. It is an opportunity that Grace has seized without thinking twice though facing contrary opinions from her family members such as Kumi. Some of her family members thought that Grace is a graduate from the university ought not to work as a secretary and that she should seek a better employment opportunity. However, the loyalty that Grace pledges to Fred as his friend has paid off. It is through her journey as she gets employed in an immigration office.

Following a big story on a radio program that a crime lord had kidnapped another one’s daughter and demanding ransom, Grace brought an emphasis on the oppression that the refugees have suffered over the recent years. She states that the government doesn’t care about them. She illustrates this by narrating how her family died or vanished in the wake of a bomb. Also, they had gone through subjection to oppression during their previous years in Canada. There is agitation by some of her family members who have joined groups to counter the abuse, but Grace doesn’t support this, and she chooses to stay quiet.

Some of the refugees have resorted to abandoning their identities as a way of forgetting the past. Because of experience, Priya wanted to write about the history of Sri Lanka, especially the wars, and she wanted to interview his uncle. However, her parents were quick to write her off and insisting that she writes on Bosnia instead. It is a clear illustration of the willingness of the refugees to forget their identity or rather where they came from. Similarly, Mahindan portrays the picture of a person who is exhausted and terrorized by the past. Such is in the hopes of forgetting.

Terrorism and illegal sects seem to be the chief reason that has necessitated the emigration of the migrants. Some of the witnesses grilled by Grace during the hearing openly admit to having been coerced to hand over their bots to the illegal sect LTTE which recruited young boys and men to become part of their organization. The statement by the refugees focuses on this vice very well amidst the traumatizing scenarios. Those events paint such. However, the testimony by the migrants is not convincing enough to allow their plea to be upheld. Some marred with contradictions, especially those that seem to confuse Grace, who is skeptical about enabling them to dwell in the country.

Mr. Mahindan suffers through the admissibility hearings, which have forced him to endure over ten reviews. The last trial that he is supposed to undergo illustrates the efforts made by Mr. Gigovaz and his team to come out victorious. Me. The rehearsals that Mahindan has undergone meant to make sure that he doesn’t mess up in the hearing. They purposefully enable him to answer correctly every single question which will get thrown at him during the hearing process. The author has intertwined this part by linking it with the appearance of Mahindran’s son.

Sellian appears just before the hearing to the amazement of his father. It is a moment of joy and relief in the novel as the dad gets to witness the significant change in his son while at the same time he is expected to take center stage in his final hearing. The parenthood theme is addressed succinctly by the characters. Mahindran is especially shocked by the fact that his son can speak English fluently and has gotten a chance to acquire education. The novel concludes with suspense having not captured the hearing, thus leaving the readerin a series of questions. The debate is whether Mahindran will be given an identity as a refugee or not. It also involves the fate of his family and the other migrants. The novel is an absolute modern noir that rotates around the different worlds of the refugees who live in Canada. Notably is the cultural diversity addressed therein while at the same time painting a picture of the different vices that are in society. It is indeed a marvel.

Cite this page

The Boat People: Literary Analysis Essay Sample. (2023, Oct 31). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism