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The novel So Much to Tell You by John Marsden Essay

The novel “So Much to Tell You” by John Marsden explores the concept of growth and change, as it follows the main character, Marina’s, struggle to become whole again. The novel reflects Marina’s feelings and emotions through the use of language and the structural technique of the journal, as we see Marina; initially detached both emotionally and spiritually due to her traumatic experience; become strong and whole once more.

At the beginning of the novel the composer, portrays Marina’s character as being initially detached and withdrawn from society, she uses silence as her shield as a defence mechanism and refuses to communicate, by speaking or even by using basic human contact. Marina doesn’t want to examine her past, life experiences, and therefore is afraid of writing in her journal, “it would stay a cold and empty book, with no secrets.” Very effective language techniques are also used to portray Marina’s, feelings and emotions about herself at the beginning of the novel; we notice that she uses harsh, blunt terms to describe herself, such as “mute” and “freak” which heightens her already low self-esteem showing that she is both physically and emotionally crippled.

We then quickly see Marina become the observer; she will not/cannot communicate so she results to watching. Marina observes and even subconsciously judges the other girls in the dorm, and in the school, as she watches their faces for hints of emotions or deep feelings, examining their behaviour; “I sat under a tree outside the court and watched.”

As the novel progresses, Marina begins to reveal bits and pieces of her past, and how it has affected her, we continue to see that she refuses to communicate, even by writing something as simple as a poem, “Poems are dangerous,” as she knows that to do so, reveals emotion causing her to feel vulnerable to those who read it. The flashback technique is also used effectively to show how Marina now begins to confess feelings towards her father and family, when she reveals the turning point in their relationship and how everything had changed between them since that moment, “my father had stopped coming to watch me…it just seemed like everything had changed.”

Marina continues to write in her journal and we begin to see even more emotions and feelings of her father seep through her words, despite her attempt to cut him out of her life completely, “he’s too powerful still, like a radioactive cloud finding his dark way into everything;” the composer uses this significant metaphor to explain to the readers how Marina sees her father, and how she believes her relationship with him is toxic. Marina believes that as she has a disfunctional family, that therefore all families must be disfunctional, “DONT TRUST THEM! LOOK OUT! THEY HATE YOU! THEY HATE EVERYONE! THEY HATE EACH OTHER!”

So Much to Tell You explores the concept of growth and change, as we examine Marina’s life and emotions, through the structural technique of the journal. The repetitive metaphor of ‘Fragments,’ is used several times throughout the novel, such as Ann’s doona cover, so as to parallel it to that of Marina’s life, “they do fit together, but it took me years to figure it out,” suggesting that Marina feels she’s ‘fragmented’ and wants to put herself back together. And Even though she didn’t want to become emotionally attached to anyone or anything in the dorm we begin to see Marina slowly doing so, “It was good to see her again,” she is feeling emotionally connected with Ann and the other girls in the dorm, and is becoming aware that other people are not whole either.

The technique of intertextuality is also used to illustrate Marina’s more significant growth and changes, “It’s like the Hunchback of Notre Dame wanting to help Esmeralda,” Marina states as she doesn’t know what to do when Lisa begins cry, showing that Marina does want to help, to comfort, but doesn’t know how.

As the story continues, the reader is able to see Marina’s various changes in her behavior in the dorm and in her diary entries. The use of the structural technique of the Journal is continued, to express not only Marina’s changes but to see what the others in the dorm are noticing about her, “She trusts us.”

To illustrate Marina’s feelings and emotions more effectively for the readers various metaphors are used throughout the story. We see Marina begin to realize that her silence is not always a good thing, that it prevents her from having any emotional connection, “silence always my fortress, sometimes my prison.” Marina’s silence allows her not to participate, and protects her from revealing herself, from becoming vulnerable, Although Marina also understands that her silence acts also as a prison, it makes her handicapped, and doesn’t allow for her to feel love and happiness, as she cannot have any relationship; she does not want to be distant or cold.

As we see Marina continue to grow and change, we notice that with the help of the girls in the dorm and Mr. Lindell, her English teacher, Marina begins to feel more comfortable in her surroundings, she writes that she prefers boarding school better than her own home, where she feels isolated and ignored.

A very important turning point for Marina is staying at Mr. Lindell’s house for the first time, she learns the let out her emotions, with the help of little Anna, who is innocent and not old enough to know the pain of life, “it seemed to break something inside me.” Not only does Marina finally express her emotions she also realises, that not all families hate each other and are disfunctional, she admires the Lindell’s and wishes her family were like that, “there such a kind and loving family, I can hardly believe it.”

In the chapters leading to the close of the novel we see Marina come to a turning point as she decides to communicate with her father. Marina has come a long way since the beginning of her story, we see her reach out and communicate with others, display deep emotions, and allow others to break through her glass barrier. The final step in her growth and change to become whole again is asking Mrs. Ransome for her father’s address, and deciding to go and meet him, and as Marina said from then on, “it’s like rolling a rock downhill, once you rolled it…all you can do is watch.”

The novel ‘So Much to Tell You’ by John Marsden explores the concept of growth and change, as we see Marina, initially cold and detached, connect with others, form new relationships and finally reunite with her father, the only person she feels truly connected with, the person whom when she’s with she knows who she is, her identity.

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