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THEMES From the novel that we analyzed which is “Braving the Waves” by Zailiani Taslim, there are several

major themes being pointed out literally and also other themes that was issued throughout the novel. This novel revolved around the life of aborigines in Malaysia, specifically situated in the midst of the rainforest in Jerantut, Pahang. The major theme portrayed in this novel is the waves of changes among aborigines. This theme is well-applied in the aspects of economy, education and social throughout this novel. The change in education can be found in the character of Erom, Ipin and Cikgu Maslinda. They are well-educated, where Erom and Ipin are studying in the tertiary level at UKM and Cikgu Maslinda is an educator at Pedesaan Teratak. They bring changes in the mindset of the aborigines and show that education is important in order to change their way of life. Erom, the main character in this novel is so eager in changing her life and others of the same race as her so they can be break the circle of backwardness and poverty they face in the jungle. This situation leads to the second changes; the wave of change in social life. The aborigines do not favour the outsiders much, as we can read throughout this novel. They also have prejudice towards the outsiders from city, where they claim these people as rude and snob, as what Uwei said to Tuk Gemuk Perindu during their argument in chapter 12. However, the presence of people like Shara; a UKM student and Erom’s friend, Radhi; the Senior Field Officer of JHEAO and Cikgu Maslinda; a teacher at Pedesaan Teratak prove to them that there are people with noble heart and kindness from the outside world. Another wave of change can be found in this novel is the change in aborigines’ economy. Radhi always help the aborigines in finding the resources and market to export their handicraft and product for commercial use and tourism. This can be read in most of the chapters, where he convinces Along and others to work their product in advance so it can be marketed for wider economy prospect. Another theme that is portrayed in this novel is education. This theme derived from the main theme of change in education, but it will be discussed in advance in this paragraph. The education theme does not falls only under the academic aspect, for it also influence the religion and lifestyles of the aborigines in other themes. As we were informed from the previous point, the education level of aborigines is something that most people are aware of in this time being and is taken serious by most of the aborigines. Although there are still people who neglect

education because of poverty, the least thing that they do is to ask charity from the government in order to make their children as literate as possible and have better lives than the elders. This can be read in chapter 9, where Tuk Gemuk Perindu and the JHEOA officers held a discussion with the aborigines. From this theme, the religion and belief theme derived as being highlighted by the author in this novel. The aborigines are usually people without religion and they believe in superstitious and animism aspect of belief. However, after the da’wah program and the spread of Islam in the jungle, most of them convert to Islam and practise it as a way of life. Erom’s family is among the first villagers that converted to Islam because her father, Nuih, were taught and raised by Imam Haji Salleh when he was younger. The association such as ABIM often come to their village to teach them about Islam practice and there are also ustaz that teach in the madrasah every week. There are some of the aborigines who converted to Christian too. This shows that the aborigines are considering the guidance of concrete religion systems as compared to their animism belief in everyday life they clung since their ancestors’ period. Although they practice different religions and belief, they are still united as they consider themselves as one big family. Even the leader, Tuk Gemuk Perindu did not have the heart to punish Uwei and his troublemaker’s gang by himself because he still thinks of them as family. Uwei is an example of aborigine who still believes in black magic and superstitious aspect because he is the one who ask Tuk Logam Bidong; a witch doctor to send santau to Erom. The theme of love is also included in this writing. Love revolves around family members, friends and lovers. The love among family members portrayed in the early chapters of this novel, where Erom always misses her family in Pedesaan Teratak during her stay at UKM. Her father, Nuih, her mother, Mayang and her elder brother always take care of her whenever she is in danger and trouble. Her father and mother calm her and protect her from a bully like Uwei when he spread rumours about her attitude changes and her brother is the one who sped to Pak Ohkom’s house to cure her when she was sick due to the charmed of santau sent by Uwei. The love between friends can be seen through the character of Shara and Ipin. They are studying at the same university and take care of each other, although at first place Ipin always tease and mock her. Shara and Erom are roommates and they often spend time together for meals and doing tasks together, while Ipin, after he regretted his bad attitude, cares for Erom and united

with her in order to form a society of aborigines in UKM. Last but not least, the love between lovers. This was portrayed in Erom and Radhi characters, where they hold a pure and innocent love towards each other and act accordingly as Muslims while socializing. Along and Cikgu Maslinda also have the love feeling towards each other although there were only few scenes that focus on their romantic affairs. Lastly, the theme of perseverance of tradition and identity. This was portrayed in the character of Erom, Along and Ipin. Along, a young man who is capable of doing hard work and progress in a better way of life insist to work in the city, where this can be found in chapter3, the conversation between Shara and Along. Along choose to stay in Pedesaan Teratak because he wants to continue the aborigine’s legacy of making handmade sampan and handicrafts, just like his mother and Nyireh, Cikgu Maslinda’s foster mother. He believes that these skills need to be preserved and practice for it will be extinct and lose the aborigine’s identity if no one claims them. Plus, this theme can be referred to the perseverance of old belief before they convert to Islam. Some of the aborigines in Pedesaan Teratak that were already Muslims turn to their old way of life such as eating and drinking the forbidden meat, drinks and food. They also did not practice the Islam way of life such as refused to pray, fasting and some of them did not go to the religion class at madrasah to learn in depth about Islam. This shows that there are some good and negative aspects in perseverance of tradition and belief.

ISSUES There are several important issues that were highlighted in this novel. These issues are concerned with the aborigines’ backwardness, education and the nation. The most important issue that was stressed in this novel is the backwardness of Orang Asli or aborigines in Malaysia. This issue is well-portrayed by the characters of Pedesaan Teratak villagers and it is an adaption of the reality that is happening in the aborigine’s community in Malaysia. First of all, the backwardness in the aspect of economy is the biggest issue deal by this community. Because of their location and geographical aspect, they fail to mingle around other races in economy and marketing prospects. They also lived in the deep of the jungle among their people and less exposed with the other community in Malaysia. They know how to exploit and

produce great things from the jungle’s treasures such as herbal medicines, handicrafts and food, yet they still could not sustain their economic standard of living. This was portrayed many times in the novel, where most of Erom’s friends that live in poverty in the jungle. Her family is not that poor but they are still consider below poverty if compare with other races in this country. Another backwardness aspect is education. The children of aborigines are not fully exposed and advices about the importance of getting proper education in schools and university. Some of them manage to get this message across, but there are still a lot of others lacking to do so. Again, the poverty has become the wall for chances in education, where in the scene of talk and discussion between ABIM, JHEOA and the leader of Pedesaan Teratak in chapter10, there are several villagers stated their problems and difficulties in schooling their children. Even Cikgu Maslinda could not do anything if her students fail to attend school because of family matters and other responsibility towards their family. Other than this issue, there is an issue of early marriage among the aborigines’ youngsters. This phenomenon happens because the family could not sustain in supporting their children’s life any longer. One of the proofs taken from this novel is Erom’s friend name Embun. She is as smart as Erom and has bigger future to achieve. However, luck was not on her side when she has to get married because of her poverty. This makes her trapped in the circle of simple-minded and routine life led by their elderly. Embun is one of the people who was victimized by their life condition and faced the short-term result of sustaining their life in the jungle. It is still happening in this era, as mentioned in the novel. The third issue in this novel is the ignorance of Muslim practice. This issue is often mentioned and portrayed in the novel, for example when Along was told that there were people who still practising their old way of life before converting to Islam. This is frustrating to him and the others who were in charge of spreading this holy religion and taught them everything about Islam. One of the factors of ignorance is they are surrounded by relatives and friends that still practising the animism and ancestors customs. They are easily swayed from Islam as this way of life is closer and norms for them since they were living with it before. Another factor is the situation in the jungle and the environment in it. They are living among themselves and isolated from the folks living in the city and outside the jungle. Therefore, the Muslim practices are not

being performed in massive and exposed way. This might lead them astray since there is less community having the same belief and religion as they are. The issue of exploitation of the aborigines is also portrayed in this novel. From this novel, the characters of Uwei, Adom and Anang who were manipulated by Tauke Guan are the characters that bring up this issue. They are manipulated by Tauke Guan who offers them money and prosperity if they agree to steal the keruing oil for him. Tauke Guan is the villain character in this novel where he manipulates a lot of aborigines in order to achieve what he wanted, such as logging activity and smuggling keruing oil. This shows that the aborigines are easily being manipulated and exploited by the outsiders because of their lack of knowledge and innocence. They do not know much about the rules and regulations, and they are simple-minded as well. Because of these factors, they are often being tricked or scammed by the evil-hearted people who only want luxury and wealth. Another interesting issue in this novel is the perception of aborigines towards the outsiders. The aborigines do not like people from other races because they think that the people of these communities only want to make a fool out of them and rude. They thought so because they are living among themselves after all this while. Thus, the presences from the outsiders make them feel intimidated and curious. This was shown in the rumours spread by Uwei about city people in chapter 10. He claims that the city girl behave shamefully, loose characters, and disgraceful. Other than that, some of the aborigines also fear with the outsiders in their village and hardly believe in them. Ipin, a medical student that comes from Erom’s place stated that their community will feel less fearful and grateful if the doctor who’s treating them is one of their people. This situation shows that the aborigines are beware of the outsiders and hard to open up to them.

CHARACTERS The characters in this novel are well-developed and portrayed the themes and issues discussed in this novel. Some of the characters are well-rounded, such as the characters of Shara and Ipin.

The protagonist character in this novel is Erom. She is an aborigine girl who was born in Pedesaan Teratak and furthers her tertiary level study in UKM. She is a humble and modest girl, where she never brags about her knowledge and avoid hurting others’ feeling. She always uses understatement phrases when describing her place of birth to Shara before Shara been there. She also advices Shara in study because Shara is always reckless when it comes to her academic task. Erom is also a calm and a rational-thinker. Although she wants to scold Uwei so badly when he tease and downgraded her at sewang ceremony, she keeps her cool and hold herself together by remembering the religion’s saying about being patience. She is an obedient daughter, where she respects her elder brother’s decision and obeys his good order and advices. She also did the same towards her father and her mother. Another interesting character in this novel is Along, Erom’s elder brother. He is a SPM certificate holder and scores a good result for the examination, but he refuses to leave Pedesaan Teratak because he wants to make use of his skills inherited by the ancestors. He is a humble young man, who never brags about his knowledge of the jungle and sincere towards others. This attitude has made Cikgu Maslinda fell in love with him. He is a responsible brother, where he also earns money for the family by making sampan and handicrafts. He is also a pious man, where he is referred as ustaz by the villagers for his assist and concern in religion’s class and ceremony. He is humble and modest just like Erom. He welcomed the outsiders like Radhi and Shara with warmth and friendliness and make people feel comfortable with him. Radhi, a Senior Field Officer of JHEOA at Pedesaan Teratak. He is a responsible man and considerate towards others problems and misery. As an officer who is in charge of the aborigines welfares, he puts their needs before him and always trying to find a way to develop the economy status of the villagers. He fell in love with Erom’s humbleness and beauty and care about her. Erom loves him too and they being friends and socialize according to the right Muslim way to socialize. Radhi is a firm with his words and an educated man that people can depend on. This is shown by the incident of keruing oil’s smuggle, where he help the authorities to investigate the criminals involve in this scam. He also wise in using words to motivate the aborigines and make them feel secure, where this can be found in chapter 8, where he gives a talk in a ABIM and JHEOA ceremony. He is one of the outsiders who is willing to help the aborigines to progress further.

There are two well-rounded characters in this novel, which are Shara and Ipin. Both of them study in UKM with Erom. Shara is a city girl, ignorant of others harsh reality and her academic aspects. She was born and raised in a different lifestyles and family background compard to Erom. Her characters started to change when she was in Pedesaan Teratak. She becomes more aware of others’ poverty and poor luck in life. She is friendly and approachable, where it helps her to befriended with Along, Cikgu Maslinda, Erom’s family members and others. At first, she thought that she could not contribute anything towards the aborigines during her stay, but as she stay longer in that village, she realized that she is part of the people there. She helps with the talk programme conducted by ABIM and JHEOA and also UKM. She helps Erom’s family with their daily basis and involve in their lives. She becomes more responsible and considerate towards others as she hopes that Erom’s people will strive for progression and success one day. Ipin’s character in this novel is also a well-rounded character. At first, he was really ignorance and always gets on Erom’s nerve with his selfish attitude. He always thought of Erom as a simple-minded girl who refuses to change when they are in university, unlike him. One day, fate has changed his attitudes when he went home and met his sick father. He realizes that he has to be a good doctor for his people because they prefer to be treated and attended by their own people although there are nice doctors from other races. His father is sick not because of his illness but he misses Ipin so much. Ipin finally came to his senses and turn over a new leave. He started the Organization of The Aborigines Students at UKM to take care of themselves and their welfare during their study. Cikgu Maslinda is another good character in this novel. She is an educator at the school in Pedesaan Teratak and also actively involve in the religion and social supports there. As a teacher, people respect her and turn to her if they need help. She is also an outsider that lives with a foster family in Pedesaan Teratak. She helps the aborigines a lot in solving their problems and is trusted by the community there. The villain character in this novel is well-portrayed in the character of Uwei. He is a heartless man who rage against Erom because she rejected his love and propose when she was 12 years old. He sent santau seru to Erom and kidnapped Radhi. He is willing to be exploited by the greedy businessman like Tauke Guan without doubting others evil intention. He is greedy and

will do anything for wealth. He used to help poaching jungle fowls for the illegal traders. He works for Tauke Guan by stealing the keruing oils around the jungle. Tauke Guan asks him to finish off Radhi but he could not do it, instead he just kidnapped him for interfere in their illegal business and for being close with Erom. He still has the sense of humanity though he is a bad man. At the end, he was caught by the Forest Authorities, along with Tauke Guan and his assistant. The other antagonist character in this novel is Tauke Guan. He is the example of people who will manipulate others’ lack of knowledge. He married the aborigines so that he can stay in their place to conduct his illegal logging and smuggling of keruing oils. He gains a lot of profits and wealth by doing so. At the end, he was caught and sends to justice to receive the punishment he deserved.