Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Curse by Lee Su Ann (Part 4/4: Themes)


*Dear faithful readers who are not an English teacher who will teach this novel in school or a student who will need notes on this, you may want to give this a skip.


Okay, so there's a new novel that our Malaysian Form 5 students need to cram in their heads for exam learn.  Since it is new, there are no reference books in stores for this novel yet.

So yours truly has taken the initiative to do it for you, whether you are a clueless English teacher or a clueless Form 5 student.
 
Please note that I didn't double check my work for grammatical errors 'coz I'm just too damn lazy to do it by the time I was done - so do/fix it yourself.  I've already done 99% of the work for you.

Also note that everything here comes from the works of my brain alone, so you may agree or not agree on my point of view. 

Copyright notice:
If you plan to turn my notes into those reference books that are yet to be sold like hotcakes WITHOUT acknowledging me and giving me some share of the big bucks pie, I'm gonna sue yo' ass.  I'm serious.  'Coz I really need money right now.

And with that said, YOU'RE WELCOME.  Now go knock yourselves out. Go here for plot summary, here for characters and here for settings. 


Themes
JEALOUSY
The jealousy that occurs when one is favoured than the other.

Azreen is jealous of Madhuri.  She is always being compared to her, especially for the things that she is not, or does not have.  She doesn’t have her sister’s grace and beauty, and it seems like her parents favour her sister more.

“She could not stand it when her parents and friends compared her to her sister.  No matter what she did, no matter how hard she tried, she could never match up to Madhuri.” Pg. 8

“It was that particular sentence that her mother had uttered in her frustration…She was not Madhuri. She was different.  Why couldn’t they accept that? It was always Madhuri this, Madhuri that.” Pg. 107

Puan Fatihah is jealous of Madhuri’s existence in her marriage with Haji Ghani.  Even after her death, she still cannot get her husband’s attention, what more his care.

“She’s very pretty, and very sweet-tempered and respectful to her elders.  And very young.  She added the last sentence with a trace of jealousy which escaped her husband’s eas.” Pg. 79

“She had lost everything to Madhuri.  Her silk, her husband and her life – her sanity!” Pg. 80

Asraf is jealous of Haji Ghani as he married his love, Madhuri.  He couldn’t do anything though because he had nothing at that time.

“I’ve loved her ever since I met her.  Then that Haji Ghani came and took her away.” Pg. 204

PREJUDICE
People are prejudiced when they are different from what others expect of them, or when they made past mistakes.

Azreen behaves like none of what is expected of her.  She is outspoken, aggressive and daring.  She does things that make people think negatively of her.  For example, being friends with the Old Lady.  

“Don’t touch me.  You’re cursed.  You’ve been affected ever since you made friends with the witch. But you refuse to let that rest.  Instead you have brought her here and now the curse is spreading all over the village.” Pg. 186

The Old Lady had killed her husband years ago.  Because of that, the villagers deemed her evil, and even think she is witch.

“I’m sure your witch friend has never told you that she stabbed her husband to death.  Do you wished to be murdered along with the rest of us in our beds?” Pg. 187

IRRATIONALITY
Irrationality due to rage can cause people to take extreme actions that can endanger the lives of others.

Saleh Abdullah murdered Madhuri out of rage, upon seeing her in  a private place with a man who is not her husband.

“Insolent, ungrateful child.  He saw red. The blade flashed in a flurry before his eyes.  A cry escaped Madhuri as she fell, knocking over the latex-filled container.  Saleh pulled away the parang.  But it was too late.” Pg. 225

Asraf, enraged with the Old Lady for thinking she had poisoned his grandmother to death, led a mob of people with torches to kill her.  Azreen tried to stop him, but eventually the house was caught in fire and the Old Lady was trapped in the burning house.

“He, too, held a torch in his hand.  In the other, he held a hoe.  He was much nearer to the house than the other men… And most importantly, loss and anguish fuelled his action.  His eyes burned wildly like the fire of his torch.” Pg. 198

The Old Lady murdered her husband as she could not tolerate any longer his abusive ways.

“He was holding her by the shoulder, shaking her hard and yelling curses at her.  He called her all sorts of names.  He kneed her in the stomach, and kicked her when she went down... As he started to force herself on her, her hands reached for the knife and she struck.” Pg. 103

SUPERSTITIONS
Belief in the supernatural is still prevalent in small villages.

Almost all the villagers believe in the supernatural.  Puan Normala especially, believed that Madhuri bled white blood and thought that the whole village is cursed.

“I saw it.  It was white.”  Her grip tightened.  “Did you hear me?”  She had white blood.  We have all been cursed!” Pg. 13

Most of the villagers believed that the Old Lady is a witch.  They do not dare to enter her compound in fear of being cast a spell.

“Azreen realised they had not dared to move closer to the house.  Superstition and fear of the supernatural prevented them from physically hurting the Old Lady.” Pg. 198

People of the village seek help from bomohs or witchdoctors to cure sickness or for charms to get what they want.

“Was it a bad thing to want to win back her husband’s affections?  What was a little charm from the bomoh to push things in the right direction?” Pg. 148

SOCIAL OUTCASTING
People tend to be cast out when they don’t follow certain norms of a society.

Due to Azreen’s outspoken, unlady-like behaviour, the people in the village tend to dislike, as she is not the type of girl who is supposed to act like one.

“It’s not easy to be like that.  Socially accepted, I mean.  Look at me.  Everyone hates me.” Pg. 38

The Old Lady was casted out from the village after they found out that she killed her husband.

“It’s true.  That’s why I’m here.  Because the villagers cast me out after they found out what happened.”  Pg.101

Bomoh Awang would have been cast out from the village if Azreen didn’t pretend to be responsible for the incident that caused her mother’s accident.

“But Cik Adik,  if it hadn’t been for you, the villagers would have cast me out long ago.” Pg.211

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
A person’s background, or what people think of them does not matter when it comes to unconditional love.

Datin Sharifah and Datuk Zul treats Azreen like their own daughter, not caring what the other villagers think about her.

“In fact, they treated the girl very much like their own daughter.” (pg. 27)

Saleh Abdullah and his wife loved Madhuri like she was their own child the moment they found her crying alone in paddy field.

“All they cared was to keep the baby as their own.  And they had loved her like their own.” Pg. 224

FORGIVENESS
Forgiving is an act that can free a person from burden and achieve peace.

The Old Lady was abused and badly treated in her marriage, which drove her to kill his husband.  But in the end, she forgave him.

“Once you’ve forgiven – sincerely forgiven – the weight is lifted from your chest, and you’re finally free.” Pg. 161

Azreen had always feelings for Asraf, but Asraf loved Madhuri instead.  Asraf has also caused the death of her dear friend, the Old Lady.  The Old Lady’s last words to Azreen were that she learns to forgive.  Eventually, she did.

“From her heart, Azreen wished him all the best.  She smiled.  Had she learnt to forgive?  The Old Lady would be so proud if she knew.” Pg. 231

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