Little Brother written by Cory Doctorow is the story of a young teenage boy named Marcus Yallow who possesses a unique, rebellious and reckless personality. Taking place in modern time, Doctorow illustrates the story of Marcus, who along with a couple of his friends, embarks on a deadly journey to achieve justice. During this journey, they struggle to cope with the consequences of their actions and new environment which lurks with danger at every corner. The novel begins with Marcus and his friends skipping school one day in order to play their favorite game called Harajaku Fun Madness. While out looking for a clue in the game, terrorists strike their city and blow up the Bay Bridge. While attempting to flee and reach the safety of their homes, Darryl, one of Marcus’s close friends is brutally stabbed. Marcus desperately trying to get help for his friend flags down a military jeep. Rather than helping, the people in the jeep shackle and place hoods on the four innocent friends. They are held for nearly a week without any explanation, before only Marcus, Jolu, and Vanessa are released. Darryl however, is not released with his three friends, and no information is offered about him. This is the beginning of Marcus’s valiant campaign to achieve justice.
Back at home, Marcus discovers a bug in his computer causing him to realize that the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is spying on him. Intrigued by this, Marcus begins to develop an internet software on Paranoid Xbox Discs which the DHS could not track (the internet connection). As Marcus begins to distribute these discs, and become more active in his plan to uncover the illegal activities of the DHS, two of his closest friends Vanessa and Jolu abandon him. Unfazed, Marcus continues his quest and meets a man named Zeb who reveals to him that Darryl is not yet dead, and is being held captive. Marcus is further pushed to accomplish his goal by this finding. Unfortunately, the DHS finally uncovers Marcus’s crafty plan and they yet again arrest him. However, just before this Marcus is able to release evidence of the DHS’S illegal activities. As a result, awareness is brought to the DHS’s activities, and their illegal actions are finally uncovered. Darryl along with a cluster of other DHS prisoners are finally found and freed from captivity. In addition, many members of the DHS are arrested and due to this the DHS crumbles away, and justice is finally achieved.
Doctorow pursues an illustration of many influential themes having profound effects upon each other. Two themes that influenced each other include friendship and identity. While reading this book I was extremely astonished of how much these two topics flow together and also influence one another. It was compelling to see how Doctorow uses crafty language and specific events within the story to brilliantly bring these two ideas together. Through the experiences and challenges of friendship Marcus encounters, he is able to uncover his true identity. Uncovering his identity allowed him to enhance his friendships and discover the true meaning of friendships. When Darryl is captured and lost, Marcus is faced with a tough decision: Whether to move on, or find Darryl, and find out who was responsible for Darryl’s capture. Influenced by his strong feelings for Darryl, Marcus decides to make an attempt to find Darryl and figure out who was responsible. This in my opinion helps Marcus realize his true identity which is a brave and resilient. Unlike any normal person, Marcus did not succumb to extreme pressure and faced it with prowess. Throughout the book, he continued to make an effort to find Darryl no matter the circumstances characterizing resiliency. In addition, this caused him to be warped into a battle against the DHS to achieve justice, in which Marcus yet again did not back down. This characterizes a brave and resilient person who is not afraid of a tough opposition and is willing to sacrifice for what he believes is right. If I was in a similar situation like this, I would most likely just move on and cope with the loss. I do not believe that I have the qualities of bravery within me like Marcus to do what he did. What would you do? Do you believe that you could do these things? It’s quite a mind boggling topic to think about… This event teaches me that in life sometimes it is necessary to rise to the occasion, face my fears, and do the unthinkable. If I am unable to, I will lose many opportunities and things I value. I would accomplish this task by thinking of the consequences caused by my ignorance. I would also need to draw a boundary between how far I gradually go from my comfort zone in order to eliminate the risk of possibly hurting myself in the process.
Moving on, When Jolu and Vanessa turn their backs on Marcus because of his new aspiration to bring down the DHS, Marcus remains unfazed and continues his valiant quest. I think realizing his true identity allowed Marcus to recognize his obligations as a friend to Darryl, and thus he did not break down and give up after losing two major figures in his life. He was also able to see that he needed friends who would stand through the unthinkable with him (Similar to his personality/identity) and not be fazed by tough challenges. At last, the two themes friendship and identity greatly impact each other..
Two more themes that intertwined to influence each other beautifully are oppression and freedom. Essentially, Marcus’s obsession with the topic of freedom influences his extreme hate against the oppression he faces, and the oppression he faces causes him to yearn freedom. Cory Doctorow reveals this influence through many literary devices including metaphors, similes, and more. However, similar to the previous two themes, he mostly uses the general plot of the book. The DHS’s manipulative techniques to control and oppress the population into a state of fear push Marcus into a corner where he can no longer stand the maltreatment, and he finally decides to take matters into his own hands. He wants to break the shackles he is confined with, and thus engages in intense conflict against the DHS. The DHS’s oppressive actions here influence Marcus’s yearning of freedom, causing him to engage in conflict with the DHS. Many times, Marcus quotes the Declaration of Independence and this manifests his obsession with the topic of freedom. This very obsession causes him to endlessly yearn freedom, and this further aggravates his aspiration to free himself from the repression (DHS) he faces. In a way these two themes can be tied back together with the first two explained in this blog. Marcus’s identity (brave and resilient) allows him to chase freedom and put down oppression without being stopped or fazed by the tough circumstances he faces. Big ideas in literature are often meshed together by Cory Doctorow using unique techniques in order to sophisticate his piece.
I was honestly intrigued by Marcus’s obsession for freedom. It made me curious and think about our own world today where many examples of oppression are seen. However, unlike Marcus there isn’t much resistance, or attempt to rebel. I feel like this is a problem and that it is necessary that more people stand up for themselves and voice their opinions. Otherwise, eventually the world would become watered down with selfish leaders and oppressive regimes everywhere. These themes also taught me a rather interesting lesson. It’s that my freedom is more valuable than anything and that I should always fearlessly express and voice my opinion without worrying about what people would think. Not letting myself be belittled by someone or something stronger than me. I really don’t know if I have the courage to accomplish this however… It’s just a matter of getting up once and gaining the confidence and courage to do so again. Do you think you have the qualities within you to do this? It is a formidable challenge, but I feel like it would pay off in the long run.
After reading this book, I believe that Doctorow uses many ideas in literature which intertwine to have profound effects upon each other. I feel strongly that this rhetorical choice, along with many others help enhance his piece and make it an absolutely thrilling read. It also helps the reader engage, connect, and learn from the text making it even more worth your while. I highly encourage all readers of this blog to read this novel. From experience, I can guarantee you that it will not fail to impress or entertain you.
Feel free to comment below, and ask any questions!
I really hope you decide to read the book!