MYSTICAL GUIDE: ANALYZING THE CAHNGES IN RUDY’S EXPECTATIONS TOWARDS KANDA IN “ADAM’S PEAK”

Naoya Makino 100106040

English 1129 Section 001 Dr. Stefan Haag Langara College

29 November 07

In Adam's Peak written by Heather Burt, Rudy Vantwest, born in Sri Lanka and grown mostly in Canada, has a complex relationship in his family, and he decides to go to Sri Lanka to search for his identity. In Sri Lanka, he is an English teacher at an English high school and meets his pupil, Kanda who is Tamil (one of the ethic groups in Sri Lanka and have a strong relationship with a political group named LTTE). Because of Kanda’s strong identity of his homeland and his confidence, the conflict between Rudy and Kanda develops. Burt shows the changes in Rudy's expectations and behavior towards Kanda, helped him realize that Sri Lanka is not his homeland. Rudy's original expectations towards Kanda are being challenged. When first time Rudy meets Kanda, he finds Kanda’s “presence…irritating” (18); he feels “challenged” (19) because he does not have such a strong identity and confidence as much as Kanda has. For example, the first day in the class, Kanda cares about Rudy’s appearance, wondering if Rudy is ill. Then Kanda suggests him to move into the comfortable place in the class, organizing his classmates to help him move. Kanda’s behavior, intending to organize his class and asking watertight questions, gives Rudy a strong impression, scared of Kanda’s presence. Like the example given, Kanda stands out in the class, and he comfortably shows his confidence and intelligence in the class, making Rudy irritated. When Kanda raises his hand, for instance, Rudy feels his annoying impression of Kanda, "[bracing] himself wearily against the possibilities"(19).

Because of Kanda’s strong identity and confidence, Rudy feels pressure of answering Kanda’s questions, “felt his own hands clench” (18). His irritated behavior clearly shows that Rudy feels a pressure on Kanda’s presence due to the lack of his confidence. Rudy takes Kanda’s challenged attitude personally to open his narrow perspective. Like Kanda’s behavior in the class, his essay titled A Defense of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Their Fight for a Tamil Homeland is provocative and distinguished in ordinary essays from other students. Since Rudy feels challenged and irritated at Kanda, he also frowns at reading Kanda’s essay, feeling "his ambiguous antipathy toward the boy taking root in the unequivocal words"(21). This influences his essay evaluation. For example, he admits that Kanda has a strong English skill, saying that his essay is “well organized” (28), and he knows Kanda’s intelligence in the class. Therefore, he attempts to open Kanda’s narrow perspective by giving a lower grade on his essay. Rudy expects that this lower grade gives Kanda an impact, helped him open his perspective. It indicates that although this personal expectation is not reasonable as a teacher, Rudy attempts to influence Kanda’s perspective; this also proves his own attempt to change his weak personality, developed his confidence. These personal expectation and his attempts to develop his confidence lead his to the offensive behavior. One of the major changes in his behavior is that Rudy becomes more offensive

to Kanda. In fact, after receiving Kanda’s provocative essay, Rudy assigns the another argumentative essay supporting from the other point of view. His purpose of assigning the essay is to force Kanda to see the other point of view, influenced Kanda’s perspective. This behavior explains that Rudy takes the action to change Kanda’s perspective as well as try to develop his confidence. Assigning the essay, "Rudy [wishes Kanda] would complain, or argue…in any case that he could respond to"(160). This illustrates that he unnaturally cares about Kanda’s response and hoping that he can answer any of those, feeling “cowardly, pathetic”(161). This phrase, however, demonstrates that he still has less confidence towards Kanda. As a result, this struggle to develop his confidence changes in frustration; he becomes "suddenly offensive"(161). Rudy's dream clearly verifies his terrifying and being offensive to Kanda. In the beginning of the dream, Kanda is remarkably “huge” as expressing that Rudy is terrified of Kanda; then, Kanda is suddenly becoming a "young child" and crying. Rudy cares Kanda, representing the desire of taking care of him and having the power over him. Therefore, this dream shows his fear of Kanda as well as offensive behavior towards him. As shown in his dream and his expectations of Kanda after assigning the essay, it is clear that his behavior towards Kanda becomes more offensive. After assigning the revision, Kanda's refusal changes Rudy's ways of contacting Kanda more directly. Before receiving a letter from Kanda, It is more

indirect way of contacting him due to the lack of the confidence. For example, Rudy assigns the essay and plans the debate in class; both of these are indirect ways of attempting to influence his perspective. This is because that he does not have enough confidence, dealing with Kanda indirectly. After receiving the letter, however, "he would [not] report the boy"—which is an indirect way, but Rudy "would talk to him"(178): more a direct way. This change in the way of contacting him shows that he is trying to develop his confidence. On the other hand, he still has the fear against Kanda, whispering to Kanda: “little bugger” (179). Abusing Kanda, Rudy expresses his frustration of not having the enough confidence. This means that Seen Kanda’s strong identity and the tight connection with his homeland, Rudy finds that he does not have the same connection with Sri Lanka as Kanda does, losing his confidence. Therefore, even though receiving the letter changes Rudy’s behavior in more direct ways, he still cannot fully develop his identity and find the connection with Sri Lanka. The bombing attack on President Street limits Rudy’s motivation for searching his identity. He is injured in the act of terrorism when he is following Kanda. After the accident, he stops involving Kanda, "[avoiding] the boy"(271). That is, he loses the motivation for attempting to influence Kanda’s perspective. These conflicts between Rudy and Kanda are also Rudy’s attempt to search his identity in Sri Lanka. This means that by dealing with Kanda who has the strong identity and connection with the

homeland, Rudy is also dealing with “mystical Sri Lankan”, which is what he is searching for. However, giving up his attempt to influence Kanda’s perspective is also losing the chance of searching for his “vibe [connection]” in Sri Lanka (293). In fact, he does not have any close relationship with a Sri Lankan except Kanda, so he cannot deeply understands Sri Lankan culture. As an example, after the accident, Rudy is influenced by his uncle’s, named Ernie, perspective: “language, race, religion…are the least interesting aspects of who we are” (272), having the opposite perspective from the Sri Lankan—Kanda. This influence results in the lack of understanding of the country. Based on his own understanding, therefore, he believes that he cannot find his “groove” (293). It is clear that the lack of involvement in Kanda loses the opportunity of finding his roots in Sri Lanka. Realizing that Sri Lanka is not his homeland makes Rudy decide to go back to his family. In Kanda’s response of the assignment, he says that “every person is formed by his culture and his race, and that is how he should act in the world"(178). This shows his strong identity and the tight connection with his homeland. However, Rudy does not feel such a strong connection with this country, saying that “it [has not] really worked out that way” (293). Seeing someone who has the strong identity, Kanda’s response makes Rudy think about his own identity; he looks back himself and his family to find his own homeland. In fact, he writes a letter to his family. In the letter, for instance, he

clearly shows his changes in his mind that he would “like to help [his sister named Susie]” (327). Rudy, who has not contacted his family for ages, writes the letter and shows his enthusiasm to his family, suggesting the major changes in his mind. This indicates that he looks back his own family as a result of the struggling with searching for his identity. Seen Kanda’s strong identity makes Rudy think himself, finding his roots in his family. In summary, Rudy’s expectations and behavior towards Kanda change dynamically; challenged and offensive, but indirect, behavior changes in more direct ways to attempt to influence Kanda’s perspectives. However, the lack of involvement in Kanda as a result of the bombing closes Rudy’s chance of finding his roots in Sri Lanka; instead, influenced by Kanda’s strong identity, Rudy realizes the significance of his family. Although the answer of searching for his identity may not be what he is hoping for, he realizes the most important roots of himself: the family. The whole experience in Sri Lanka guides Rudy to go back to his own home.

Reference
Burt, Heather. ADAM’S PEAK. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2006.