After reading Journey, our literature teacher asked us to write an essay about it.
Essay question: How is the theme of land presented in ‘Journey’ ?
Journey deals with the Maori culture and the clash between this culture and the european one, which is pretty related with the value each of them gives to the land. This theme is presented in many ways through this story.
On the one hand, the theme of land is shown from the Maori’s point of view. The people who belong to this culture see land as a bond between them, nature and family. Land is seen as an important symbol of the Maori culture. In this quote, “What has been ours since before we were born” , we can see the importance that the Maoris give to their ancestors and what they leave behind, for them land, is somehow the representation of the ones, who have already left the world, in the present. So, that land carries more emotional and cultural importance than a monetary one, as we can see in this quote “there is no land equal”, as each piece of land has its own emocional charge, so they can not be replaced, they are unique, money doesn’t replace feelings or cultural aspects.
On the other hand, for the Europeans, the land doesn’t have that cultural and emotional value, but a monetary one. Land is presented, from their point of view, as a meaningless thing which has nothing to do with emotional matters. Here, “You would all receive equivalent sites”, we can notice how difficult it is for Europeans to understand how the Maori’s see the land.
Furthermore, land is presented as part of a process, which is another theme of this short story. In the story the protagonist, during his journey, talks a lot about how the landscapes and land keep changing year by year. Progress is the justification the Europeans use for the appropriation of land, like the land the protagonist is being taken by the young man who is probably a government agent. The protagonist accepts during his trip that people must have houses, so that his land can be used for that, but as a part of the New Zealand’s progress, his land, according to the young man must be used for a parking lot. “You see, there is more development than houses”, this shows how land is still a monetary thing, and also how the progress leads to the protagonist having no word on what to do with his land.
All in all, Patricia Grace portrays land as a main theme of this story as it is really connected with all the other themes and the messages she wants us, the readers, to infer. Besides that, this theme is used to help us see the reality in which the Maori’s live in.