10th October 2017

Reading response #1

  • Title: My Side Of The Mountian
  • Text type: Extended
  • Author: Jean George

“My Side Of The Mountain” is a novel about a 15-year-old boy named Sam Gribbly who intensely dislikes living in his parents cramped New York apartment with his eight brothers and sisters. When he was young his dad often told him stories of his ancestors who sailed the seas, this inspired Sam and he longed for an adventure. He soon learned of his grandfathers abandoned farm up in the Catskill mountains. Sam was fed up with the city, so he packed up a penknife, a ball of string, an axe and forty dollars and ran away from home to find his grandfathers farm. When Sam arrived and found the “Gribbly Farm” he set about making a shelter, exploring and finding food. Sam quickly learns how to live in the wild and become self-sufficient, we see an example of this when early on in the novel he uses his own knowledge and remembered how Native Americans used fire to make dugout canoes. He uses this information to burn out a tree hollow to make a cosy home. Sam lives in this tree for the rest of his time on the farm, this makes me realise how any knowledge, even if you may not think its useful at the time when you learn it, is actually very helpful, and you’ll never know when it might be convenient. The tree that Sam turned into his home was a significant part of the story, without it he may not have gotten through the brutal winter or have been able to stay undiscovered for so long, all this came from one small piece of knowledge.

The story “My Side Of The Mountian” is built on independence and as the story goes from start to finish Sams independence and confidence grows, as the reader, I saw him develop and adapt to his new life in the wild. In the beginning, Sam was unsure about his decision to leave home and often seconded guessed himself, he was alone and scared. As a 16-year-old teenager I can relate to how Sam was feeling at the beginning of the novel, whilst I’m still living at home and going to school like the average teen, I dream of adventuring and exploring, of having my own independence to do what I like and challenge myself to see how far I can get on my own. However, like Sam, once I do have independence I often get lonely and miss my parents being there for me and helping me out with simple things. In “My Side Of The Mountain” Sam goes through this stage to start with, however, once he is past that stage his independence is unstoppable and he quickly becomes confident in everything he does, he learns the tricks of the wilderness and matures rapidly.

Throughout the book Sam regularly looks back on his younger self in the novel and reflects on his past, an example of this is when he says “I knew how to make a fire… I also knew how to fish. To fish and make a fire. That was all I needed to know I thought.”. He describes what he thought he would need in the woods and when he looks back he finds is funny how naive he was. Another example is when he recalls his father telling him that “the land is no place for a Gribbley”. Sam recalls how he was made fun of by his father and others for wanting to live on the land. Sam’s father worked at sea and saw “no future on the land”. Having his father say these things makes Sam frustrated and motivates him to prove his father wrong. Many times in life when we are told we are incapable of something it brings out the drive from within to overcome the judgment we have been held to, we feel devalued and angry. The novel showed me that anger is a powerful emotion and if it’s handled properly (like how Sam handled it) it can motivate us to make positive changes. I have experienced these same feelings as Sam, for example, I’m the youngest child and because of this I would often feel devalued as a little girl. I felt as though people didn’t think I could keep up with my older brothers, this would make me angry and I would try extra hard in everything I did to prove them wrong. As a result of this, I have a stubborn personality and am still affected today by the pressures of keeping up with my brothers. I think many people experience this feeling in their life and sometimes it is the key to taking the next step forward, however, if anger is not well managed it can have destructive effects on a person and those closest to them.

There are many similarities between “My Side Of The Mountian” and the novel “Lord of the flies”, In both novels, the setting is rough, wild and the characters are left to sustain themselves without adult supervision. Independence is a strong factor in “Lord Of The Flies” and the story is based on how they deal with the freedom of individual independence. However “My Side Of The Mountian” did not show the same need for power that “Lord Of The Flies” displayed. I think this is because it was Sams choice to run away and be independent wherein “Lord Of The Flies” the boys did not have an option. Sam had no one to compete with for power and he was in control of his life whereas in “Lord Of The Flies” it is easy to see much of the events that take place are out of the conflict, therefore limiting the control the boys contribute to the matter.

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About Fiona

Born in Christchurch, One of New Zealand's children, dweller of the south island, I enjoy being called Fi, thanks. Spelling needs work. Yep. Nice.