by James Vance Marshall

Mary and her brother Peter are the only survivors of a plane crash in the middle of the Australian desert. They have been on the way to their uncle in Adelaid, but now, alone in this unknown territory, it seems to be impossible to go back to civilization or even to survive. Mary is the elder one and therefore she has to take responsibility for her btother, more than ever before. The two children have some sugar to survive the first two days after crash, so they stay rather close to the plane at first. They follow a stream southward in order to come to Adelaide. Afterwards, they are moving through a tangle of vegetation and trunks of fallen trees block their path. It is difficult to find something to eat, so they soon get hungry. They walk away from the stream into less luxuriant vegetation and climb hills until they find some fruits on trees. They collect a lot of them till they find out that they are observed by somebody. It is a naked ebony black boy who is watching them. He cannot be much elder then Mary and both, the children and he stare at each other for a very long time. It is the first time he sees white people. Two different cultures collide at that place: the children, who live in our lifestyle and the Aborigine, who hasn't changed his way of life for about twenty thousand years. A snezze of Peter makes himself laughing and the other boy begins to laugh too. Mary decides not to move while the black boy examines their clothes. Afterwards, the boy, who faces the death every day, goes away. They wouldn't have expected that he leaves them alone. Peter asks him for help and shows that they are hingry and thirsty. The"Darkie", like Peter calls him watches them and knows that they are helpless without him. So he has to help them and lead the two to a place with water,"Arkooloola" in his language. It is a long and exhausting way to this location and Mary reluctantly follows him because she is appalled of his naked body.arrived at the place where they can find water, they stay a night and Darkie shows them how to make fire. In the next morning Mary wants him to wear her pants, becaus she is still appalled of his naked body. She thinks that he has to be missionated, because missionaries had never been to this"lost continent". After he has put on her pants, not knowing what they are for, he begins a war dance. It is the only dance he knows and it causes a tragic misunderstanding. Mary and Peter are afraid and Mary doesn't understand him. When he looks into her eyes, terror comes onto them and he thinks that she saw the image of Spirit of Death in his body and he'll die soon. Nevertheless they move on in this large and unknown territory."But when I die, those helpless creatures will die too", the boy thinks. For that reason he cannot let them die, because there would be more than just one victim. They have to be rescued and so he decides to bring them to other white people, to the valley - of - waters - under - the - earth. They move towards the valley and Darkie is wondering and waiting when the Spirit of Death would come and claim him. Peter has a cold and the bush boy get it too. At first he snezzed and later when he begins to feel weaker, he is sure that he has got a fever and because of that he is going to die soon. He saw an old man in his tribe, who died because of that kind of fever. It is clear that the bush boy has caught Peter's cold. And he really becomes ill and so Peter and Mary have to find food on their own. That is very difficult first. When the Aboriginal boy dies, his last smile at Mary breakes her heart. Before his dead she has been appalled and frightened of him all the time, but the boy has showed them the way to that valley with water and food, which might save their lives. They bury him, walk on and try to live the way he has lived. It is difficult to survive on the way to the valley, but the valley itself is a paradise with enough water and food for human beings. They are fascinated of all kind of animals and plants there are. There is a long lagoon and they draw pictures with moistened clay. Then unexpected they see some smoke rising. The two children answer back and after a few moments a black family comes. They become friends and when they see the house, Mary just has drawn, they understand. They show them how to come to a house, which belongs to a white man. So the kids are happy that they are able to come back and live like in the past. They follow the family's instruction on their way to this house.

*) Peter:
He is an eight - year - old boy. On their walk with the Aboriginal he always tries to make friend with him. At first it was an amusing game, a big andventure for him, but he also wants to learn something.
He tries to imitate the"Darkie" for example how to make fire, to catch animals for food and he also tries to learn the Aboriginal's language.
And all that helps them to survive after the black boy has died. Peter wants to conform to the bush boy's way of life, because he knows that otherwise he won't survive.
He also accepts him, like he is. He doesn't want to missionate him like Mary wants.
I think, in a kind of way, Peter admires the Aboriginal and his way of life. He is fascinated about the Darkie's fights against death every day.
During the black boy was ill, he tries to care about him, because Peter knows all the time, that without him they wouldn't survive and he also knows that a cold, like he had, will be fatal for the native Australian boy. When he dies, Peter loses a good friend, even they don't speak the same language.
I think, that he always gives hope to Mary and he also fights against death. At the end he knows that every detail of what he has seen in the last two weeks, he will remember for the rest of his life. I also think he is a kind of proud for surviving in the desert.

*) Mary:
She is a thirteen - year - old girl and for that she has to take responsibility for her younger brother.She doesn't really like the Aboriginal and at their first meeting she is afraid of him. I think she cannot understand his way of life, his everyday fight against death.
I think she often asks herself. How you can voluntary live so. Becaus of that she wants to change him. She doesn't accept him as an own individual, she wants to make him like herself and so she starts her mission with giving him her pants. But that doesn't work.
I think she also is a kind of jealous of not being a boy and understanding that surviving and adventure stuff.
She is also a little bit sad or jealous, because the boys get on well with each other and she is in a kind of way an outsider and Peter admires the boy and not her. But only when the bush boy dies, she understands that without him, they wouldn't survive. In a kind of way he gives his life for them. When Peter says that the Darkie is ill, she doesn't believe him and she doesn't know that a cold will be fatal.After he has died, she also becomes fascinated about the tricks to survive, for example she remembers how the Aboriginal sucked up the cold water with a reed from a pool.
I think this two weeks really changed her life, because she will see people from other cultures with other eyes than before. And she will think that it is good that there are different cultures on the earth and not the same.

*) The Aboriginal:
He is used to be alone and walk around in the desert fighting against death everyday. And so he is very surprised to see people in the desert and surprised again that these people have another colour. First he is very interested in these strange pale humans and he touchs theire clothes and bodies.
But then he wants to go on, but when he realizes that they need him, he takes responsibility for them.
I think, he likes Peter because he accepts being the type of person ge is and Peter is also a good help, because he wants to learn how to make fire and so on.
But he is a little afraid of Mary, because he wants to chang him.
But when he dies he smiles forgivingly at her.

*) Clashes of cultures:
The main theme is the clash of two different cultures and the misunderstanding between them, which might appear.
Mary and Peter come from a world with evolution, technology,... a totally other world than the Aboriginals' one.
The Aboriginals haven't change theire way of life for about twenty thousand years. And that makes the situation ver difficult. They have different viewsof life and different ways of living. But the two children have to conform to the way of life in the desert, because otherwise they wouldn't survive.
I think that the author tries to show his book's readers that not knowing enough about other cultures could result in fatal, in this case even lethal consequences.
The book also shows how other cultures might think of us. But you are also able to see the world in another point of view, when you try to identify with the nativ Astralian boy.

*) The Australian desert:
The book also descripes the Australian desert very well. The two different sides of the desert are fascinating and amasing.
On one hand there is endless desert with few vegetation, but on the other hand there are oasis with wounderful varied plants and animals, which aren't on another plache all over the world.
I think it must be very hard and hot to be in this desert. But it's worth it to see this oasis.

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