What Is A Child?

When I think of the word child, I picture a young and innocent being. I think of one who has not experienced much of life and the cruelties it brings. I think of a fragile life that must be protected at all times because they do not know what is out there in the real world yet.

This novel, Signs Preceding The End Of The World, took my idea of a child and completely changed the meaning of it. Honestly, I am not sure how this book would completely define a child, but I do know that it is not the same as how I would.

On page 12 of the book, Makina’s mother calls her a child when she informs Makina that she will need to send her on this trip to find her brother. This was the first time I was taken back by the novel’s idea of a child. The mother refers to Makina as child, but is willing to send her on a quest across the dangerous border, to an unfamiliar land, to find her brother and bring him back. Personally I do not understand that because a child to me would not be capable of such a task and I would never send a young child on a quest like that alone.

Next, on page 13, Makina goes to visit Mr. Double-U, who offers her a beer, which she accepts and drinks with him. Then, on page 15, Mr. Double-U calls Makina child also. What? Who offers a child beer? Then on page 21, Mr. Q gives Makina coffee. Personally, none of the young people I refer to as child, are crossing major borders alone, drinking beer, or drinking coffee.

This novel’s idea of a child is confusing to me. It takes the pureness and innocence out of the meaning it usually has. Makina drinks alcohol and has sex and crosses dangerous borders and acts as an independent woman…so why is she referred to as a child by everyone?

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