There are so many different social issues in the world. Some of them are already old-fashioned, but others still exist. They are a part of people’s lives and society as a whole. A lot of people suffer from them in certain ways. That is why it is essential to let people all over the world know about these issues and try to solve them. It is remarkable that all literary works deal with various social issues. Authors explore, show and develop them in different ways. This helps a reader to understand the concepts of these social issues better.
The Paper Bag Princess written by Robert Munsch, and Hana’s Suitcase written by Karen Levine are two significant pieces of literature that deal with similar social issues. Their main characters, princess Elizabeth and little girl Hana Brady, have different life stories. Yet, throughout their lives, both of them develop, understand the world around them better, build relationships and struggle for their happiness. Both girls are young and open to new adventures and life lessons. Nevertheless, despite their age, Elizabeth and Hana demonstrate themselves as clever and amazingly brave girls.
Throughout the stories, these two girls face extremely important social issues such as biased attitudes towards gender and race. The girls’ social rights are infringed on by other people. The authors of these books use different literary elements. That let the reader better feel emotions experienced by characters and comprehend the background and effects of the social issues. The social issues these two girls meet on the way show the reader that while the world is full of stereotypes and prejudice, people should treat each other equally. In the book The Paper Bag Princess, princess Elizabeth faces the social issue of gender discrimination.
This issue occurs when various stereotypes based on a person’s sex take place. It also can be associated with gender roles and even violence. In this fiction book, Elizabeth faces the prepossession that girls, especially princesses, have to always be neat and pretty and behave in a certain way. She is told that girls should look after their appearance; they have to be clean and well dressed. When she risks her own life and comes to the dragon’s cave for her prince, prince Ronald does not even appreciate that: “He looked at her and said: ‘Elizabeth, you are a mess!
You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess’ “(Munsch 26). So, Elizabeth goes against all preconceptions about girls’ behavior and breaks the stereotype that girls cannot be heroes. Elizabeth realizes that she is surrounded by callous people and decides to leave prince Ronald; that is the way she deals with her issue. She tells Ronald: “you look like a real prince, but you are a bum” (Munsch 28). The author also says “they didn’t get married after all” (Munsch 28).
The author uses the fantasy genre and a comic tone in order to demonstrate the mentioned issue and stereotype. All characters in the book are fictional. Some of the actions are not even possible in real life. However, that does not make the book improbable. The illustrations also assist readers in understanding and in Themes and subjects disclosed in the book are very realistic and can be met in real life. They involve not only the social issue of gender discrimination, but also creativity, cleverness and adventures. ning In the second book, Hana’s Suitcase, an issue related to society as a whole is faced as well.
That social issue is racism, which occurs when people infringe on the rights of people of a specific nationality and try to exterminate them. In Hana’s Suitcase, Hana and her family are Jewish, and at the time they live in, the Nazis want to exterminate all Jews: “The Nazis declared that Jews were evil, a bad influence, dangerous” (Levine 23). Nazi troops make Jews live by different rules in the territories they enter. Jewish people cannot live normal lives anymore: they are prohibited from doing things that non-Jewish people do.
From this moment, “no Jews in the playground. No Jews on the sports fields. No Jews in the parks” are allowed (Levine 24). Later, the Nazis announce that Jewish children are not allowed to attend school anymore (Levin 28). That is just frightening. If Jews do not follow these rules, they can get arrested: “the penalty for breaking any law was very severe. Everyone was afraid of being arrested” (Levine 26). Hana bravely overcomes all obstacles she meets on her way. Yet, the author indicates that, unfortunately, there is nothing she can do against racism.
Hana and Elizabeth deal with facing social issues in different ways, which makes their stories distinctive. Throughout the story, Karen Levine uses a sorrowful and terrifying tone, which shows the emotional state of society at that time. The fact that this story is a biography makes it even more influential. In addition, the way Karen Levin builds this book is that the narrator basically brings up two stories connected to each other – one about the Jewish girl Hana, and another one about Fumiko Ishioka, the director of a museum in Japan.
Hana lives in the 20th century, while Fumiko lives in the 21st. Fumiko finds Hana’s suitcase and promises herself and the children to find out everything she can about it and the girl it belongs to. Another distinctive feature of this nonfiction book is that even though characters go through suffering, most of them are children. That makes the book even more impressive. In its foreword, the author says: “The untimely death of anyone is always very sad but none more so than the death of a young person whose life is so filled with promise” (Levine 8).
That is absolutely true: the massacre of civilians, especially children, is a thing that should never happen in the civilized world. At the first sight it may seem that the life stories of princess Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess and Hana Brady from Hana’s Suitcase do not have a lot in common, both girls face complementary social issues and struggle with them. Elizabeth and Hana suffer from the social attitudes towards their gender or race. Elizabeth is treated as a princess, not like a usual girl. She is told that she has to always be neat and well dressed.
Her prince Ronald does not want even to talk to her when she looks untidy, despite the fact that she saves his life. The author of this book uses the fantasy genre, fictional characters and a comic tone. These are the main distinctive features of the book, which make it more appropriate for both children and their parents. It is reasonable that the book may also be called a picture book: it is full of illustrations, so that the reader can see all main actions on the pictures. That makes the performance easier to imagine and memorize.
In Hana’s Suitcase, the narrator tells us about two timelines – 20th and 21st centuries. Despite the fact that two main characters, Hana and Fumiko, live in different time periods, their life stories are connected. That is the way the author creates this book. Karen Levin also uses specific genres – non-fiction and biography, and sorrowful and terrifying tones. Thus, the authors of these two books, The Paper Bag Princess and Hana’s Suitcase, deal with the subject matter in different ways. In Hana’s Suitcase, the author discusses Jewish people’s suffering caused by racism.
It shows how terrible it is to judge people based on their race and what effects this judging can lead to. Hereby, the reader can learn from these two books about racism and sexism, prejudice and struggling with these issues. People of different cultures and religions can face all of these social issues on a daily basis. The world has already suffered a lot from various prejudices. Thus, humanity should never repeat its previous mistakes. People should share their knowledge and experience, and apply them in order to make the world better.