English ISU essay

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English ISU – Literary Essay
Alexandria of Africa – Eric Walters In the book Alexandria of Africa, Eric Walters portrays many different themes. But the most significant to me would be that self-discovery is a painful but ultimately rewarding process. Walters brilliantly shows self-discovery in Alexandria through the use of setting, when she is forced to move from her Mansion in Los Angeles, to living in a shack for 3 weeks in a poor Maasai village in Africa. Walters also shows the personal growth and self discovery in Alexandria using conflict. Alexandria has a very strong and stubborn personality which she uses to put up with the rest of the rich snobs in LA, which she faces every day. But when she is stuck with all of the ‘church kids’ (as Alexandria would call them) who are in the diversion program willingly, and are working hard to make a difference, Alexandria starts to realize that maybe she should try to look at this trip with a different outlook. The last way that the author shows the theme of self-discovery in this book is by point of view. Since this book is written through Alexandria’s eyes, we see a firsthand glimpse of her motivations and perspective. The journey she takes will change her outlook on life and change her as a person forever.

One way Eric Walters vividly presented self-discovery through Alexandria was through setting. She started off as a typical superficial teenage girl, living in Los Angeles where her only worries were what clothes are in style, and who has the latest gossip. In chapter 1 while Alexandria is preparing for trial she states “Yes, the nerve of some woman who shops at Walmart, and doesn’t even have the sense to have her bag match her shoes, to think that she could sit there and judge me!”(Alexandria of Africa, Chap.1) I think what this reveals about Alexandria in the beginning of the book is how shallow she really is. She believes a person’s self worth is based on the brand names they wear or how much money they have. But this is how she grew up, as it suggests in chapter 7. “Who went around with slogans on their clothing like they were some sort of walking bumper sticker or billboard? Me and my friends would never wear any clothing with writing on it unless it said Gucci.” (Alexandria of Africa, Chap 7) Alexandria hasn’t learned that money, and wealth do not buy you happiness, and that it is in fact what’s on the inside that counts. But when Alexandria is sent to Nairobi Africa and meets Renee and Ruth, she starts to have a new outlook. Ruth shows her that where you live, or how much money you have doesn’t make a better person, it’s how you make the best with what you have. I believe that Renee also taught Alexandria a lot of important lessons. In chapter 18 Renee says “For you, I have even higher hopes. There’s a saying: From those to whom much is given, much is expected. You have so much – and I’m not talking about money – so you have a lot to give. Don’t let anybody sell you short. Especially not yourself.” (Alexandria of Africa, Chap 18) What this reveals about Renee, is that even though her and Alexandria did not get along in the beginning, she always believed that deep down she was a caring, and compassionate person, she had just never been exposed to a situation where she had to be. Through the change in setting, Eric Walters portrays Alexandria’s self discovery.

In this book, the theme of rewarding self-discovery is also portrayed strongly through conflict – particularly Man Vs. Self and Man Vs. Society. The conflict Man vs. Self in this story develops Alexandria’s character towards self-discovery over the course of the book. In the beginning of this story Alexandria is manipulative, selfish, narrow-minded, sheltered and ignorant. I believe she compulsively buys things, acts out, and breaks the law to seek attention from her parents whom she has never had a good relationship with. But when she meets Ruth in Nairobi, and realizes that no one is impressed by her…