King Rat Analysis

The author James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell was a British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II veteran and prisoner of war. Many of his novels were converted to movies, most famous of them being The Great Escape with Steve McQueen. In WW II he was wounded by machine-gun fire, he was eventually captured and sent to a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp on Java. Later he was transferred to Changi Prison in Singapore. He suffered greatly at the hands of his Japanese captors. Changi was notorious for its poor living conditions. Clavell was reportedly saved, along with an entire battalion, by an American prisoner.

The novel This is captured in the novel King Rat from 1962. The novel opens in early 1945. Peter Marlowe, a young British Flight Lieutenant, has been a P. O. W. since 1942. He describes horrible conditions in Changi. The P. O. W. ‘s are given nothing by the Japanese other than filthy huts to live in and the bare minimum of food needed to prevent starvation. Officers from various parts of Britain’s Asian empire are reduced to wearing rags and homemade shoes. Biggest concern is obtaining enough food to stay alive from day to day and avoiding disease or injury, since almost no medical care is available.

Some literally steal food out the mouths of their comrades, while others give away what they have or take terrible risks to help their friends. Then Marlowe meets with „King“, an american corporal who became infamous throughout the camp as the most successful trader and black marketeer in Changi. Actually he was the only one who lived like a human being with clean clothes and enough food for more than 5 men. They become close friends, later Marlowe helps King with his trades. Marlowe being a naive idealist then sees how the world really works, he changes his points of view what makes his bond with King even stronger.

The book ends with liberation of the camp by British forces. King leaves to America and is never seen by Marlove again. The book features many different characters, from different countries and their struggle for survival. Some live of the others, some take great risks to help the others, biggest of them being a construction of a riado to get news about the progress of war, what later Marlowe with 2 of his friends do too. Novel realisticaly shows the life in a prison camp, men? s problems with food, deseases, japanese guards, weather, their personalities, concerns bout their families or how the war will end. Analylis of the book King Rat – why is the book called King Rat? One of the main character? s last name and also nickname is „King“ and the rat probably because they literaly lived like rats while they were in Changi. So he was the King of the rats. Or, Later in the book they start a rat farm to get meat and sell it and the first rat they caught was the biggest and the strongest of all so the title can be based on the similarity of King with this rat. The novel consists of 4 parts called Book One, Book two, Book Three, and Book Four.

Each book deals with a little different time and closely describe different characters. They go chronologically where Book One is the beginning of the story early in year 1945 and Book Four shows Kings and Marlowes last and biggest deal and moves to their departure from the camp in the end. It has 26 chapters simply named Chapter + a number. Reason for this is that there is so much going on in each chapter that it would be very difficult to name the chapters and the names would be very misleading. It has 383 pages. There is no pattern to this, no resemblance to years of his birth or anything.

He just finished on his page and so it has 383 pages. The book itself is great, the way it’s written is very exceptional and catchy and the way the writter puts so many ideas and situations together is simly ingenious. But in the end many things are left unexplained like fake promotion of an MP officer or fates of different characters. It is full of reported speech. Practicly the whole book is one reported speech with few introductions giving the gist of the situation and environment, because it s the best way to show the minds of so many characters, their feelings, thoughts…

The part I chose shows Kings birthday, when he invited his closed friends to a prison building to cook some real food. He acquired some real meat – a dog that had to be put down the day before because it killed a chicken and some sake.

Stylistic devices Stunned silence – epitet Two hundred yards – Why is it used? Author used yards to show the distance and the word was very common in those times MP – abbreviation (Military police) Why is it used? Abbreviations are very common in ilitary talk“, soldiers use them all the time, so it gives us a better image of how they think and talk. It drags us more into the story. Stench – repetition Why is it used? Stench is a very strong and rude word and the author used it to show us exactly how bad it smelled Cell 54 – Why is it used? It was used because it’s a real story so it really happened in cell 54 Seven feet wide and eight feed long and ten feet high; three feet high and three feet wide and six feet long; nine feet up – Why is it used? Author tries to give us an image of how the cell looked like, and also uses repetition of the word  eet as it is the most common unit of lenght in the world Cobber – australian slang meaning mate or friend Why is it used? It is used because the character is Australian Ay, laddie – scottish slang, laddie meaning boy Why is it used It is used because the character is Scottish For Chris sake! – emphasis You mean to say you got us in here just for that? Why the hell couldn’t we have done it in our billet – rethorical question – character asks a question and doesn’t expect an answer Rajah – Indian word for King Mother of god – emphasis Sudden stunned silence – alliteration Buck – american slang for Dollar

Mahlu – in Malyan meaning ashamed, very often used in the book with the word Puki – very rude name for female genitals Bloody – slang, swearing What is it? – question Sake! – emphasis Its real, real real – repetition Long story – ephasis Ill be goddamned! – emphasis Chrissake – slang Like an Indian smoke signal – comparison You? re no chicken, you know – emphasis, lilotes, hyperbole Blast you – slang, emphasis Oh, Jesus! – emphasis Boil, boil, boil and bubble… – repetition, alliteration It? s Double, double toil and trouble ; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble! – quoting, allusion

Betcha – slang USC – abbreviaton for University of Southern California The world? d stop – metonymy ?? That? scrap, said the King  at about Rockefeller? And Morgan and Ford and du Point? And all the others? It? s their philantropy that finances a helluva lot of research and libraries and hospitals and ard. Why without their dough – hypophora – character asks a question but immediately answers it Bloodsuckers – slang I suppose you’re a Democrat– rethorical question – character asks a question and doesn’t expect an answer Republicans – metonymy Crapdoodle – slang This guy? s from Christmas – metaphor

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