Mister Pip




  • Bougainville, part of Papua New Guinea (to the north of Australia)
  • Very rich in copper and some gold

History of Bougainville

  • Australian businesses first began exploring the island's resources in 1964. They opened the Paguna Mine four years later
  • In the 1960s locals began protesting at the Australian government control over the mine and the unfair distribution of revenues gained from it. 
  • Francis Ona had worked at the Paguna Mine and noticed the devestating effects it had on the environment, as well as the unfair distrubution of the money it generated
  • Ona set up the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA, the rebels) in 1988. They attacked the mine and the Australian company was forced to close it down after attacks on its workers
  • In 1990, Papa New Guinea imposed a blockade on the island and sent the Papa New Guinea Military Force (redskins), who believed it should not be independent, to Bougainville
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Context (2)


  • Papua New Guinea (PNG) military force, funded by Australia
  • Armed with military weapons, wore a uniform, had helicopters
  • Believed Bougainville should not be independent from Papua New Guinea
  • Functioned by intimidation, much more powerful and well resourced than the natives

"His light taunting mood of earlier was gone", "[I saw] How sick he was with malaria. How sick of everything he was. How sick of being a human being."


  • Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA or Rebels)
  • No guns, used basic weaponry, no official uniform
  • Believed Bougainville had a right to independence from Papua New guinea
  • Committed many atrocities on their own people

"They were our boys, but there were no faces in that lot that we knew", "They had turned into creatures of the forest"

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Mister Pip is a story that stems from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Even though Matilda, (the protagonist and narrator) lives in poverty in the small village of Bougainville that is troubled by war ["We were surrounded by sea, and while the redskins' gunboats patrolled the coastline their helicopters flew overhead"], when her teacher starts reading to the class from the book she and many other children become hooked ["I hadn't stopped to think that someone else might also treasure the book and actively inhabit that world."] Matilda becomes very attached to the book's main character, Pip, and begins to escape to the setting of the book fequently to escape the horrors of the blocake on the island ["She worried she would lose her Matilda to Victorian England"]. Dolores, Matilda's mother, becomes concerned about the influence that the books is having upon her daughter, ["'Popeye should be teaching you kids proper behaviour'", "'But how will he (Pip) know if he's made a mistake?', "] and takes it upon herself to hide it ["It is hard to put into words my feelings of betrayal at that moment"]. Matilda's teacher, Mr Watts -the only white man remaining on the island-  cannot teach the class from it. This decision of Dolores' has life changing consequences to the whole village ["You would never guess that a hairburhs and a toothbrush could be so important", "We discovered that without a house your life feels bare", "They chopped Mr Watts up and fed him in pieces to the pigs", "my mum was on the ground. A redskin was on top of her", "They took my mum to the edge of the jungle, to the same place they'd dragged Mr Watts, and there they chopped her up and threw her to the pigs"]. 

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Chapters 1 + 2

Chapter 1

  • "After the minister died the authorities forgot about the mission and the lawnmover rusted" - poverty, lack of funding, disconnected and forgotten by outside world. Lawnmower a metaphor for the village of Bougainville after the mine closed and it was no longer useful
  • "We loved that word- parasol- and we weren't about to lose it just because of some dumb-**** question" - lack of education, dsahes separated the 'white' western world from the rest
  • "We had grown up believing white to be the colour of all the important things, like ice-cream, aspirin, ribbon, the moon, the stars" - white superiority over black, inclusive pronoun shows how conditioned the entire population is 

Chapter 2

  • "My mum only knew what the last minister had told her in sermons and conversations" - Dolores' strong religious beliefs, she ignores almost everything else, disconnected from outside world, adverb "only" emphasises this
  • "The redskins were going to choke the island and the rebels into submission [...] 'Good luck to them'. That's how much we cared" - naivety, ignorance to the severity of the situation, short sentece shows dismissal
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Chapters 3 + 5

Chapter 3

  • '"Ged up, Matilda. You've got school today."' - pleases her that she is able to send Matilda back to school, getting an education, likes going back into a predictable routine, short sentences and colloquial 'ged' are ironic as they show her lack of education
  • '"I want this to be a place of light. No matter what happens."' - foreshadowing the later events, highlights Matilda and other's naivety in the severity of the situation, light connotes hope and enlightenment, very important in blockade
  • 'As if we were trying to squeeze back into an old life that didn't exist any more' - similie shows how distorted life has been made by the blockade. Almost normal, but not quite
  • 'It was like a grey sea mouse- it crawled along with its guns aimed at us' - Matilda is downplaying the seriousness of the blockade by using a similie of a mouse and personifies the gunboat to be slow, weak and not a threat

Chapter 5

  • 'We knew that. We followed Mr Watts with our eyes. We watched him pick the book up from his desk.' - Great Expectations brings them together as a community- inclusive pronoun 'we'
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Chapters 5 + 6

Chapter 5 (cntd)

  • '"And what did Pop Eye have to say about this?"' - accusatory tone, distrust of the 'white man', strong, religious, traditional morals that she wants Matilda to be brought up with
  • 'We could not imagine air so cold that it made smoke come out of your mouth or caused grass to snap in your hands' - in reality, they are worlds apart from Pip's and can't comprehend the difference in lifestyle- distanced from the rest of the world due to blockade
  • 'She worried she would lose her Matilda to Victorian England' - metaphor for the growing distance between Dolores and Matilda as Matilda learns more about the outside world and develops her views, whilst Dolores remains fixed in her beliefs

Chapter 6

  • 'They hovered in the air like giant dragonflies, peering down at the clearing' - similie and personification show redskins are getting closer They have progressed from mice to dragonflies
  • 'You saw how disrespectful the sun could be, and how dumb the palms were to flutter back at the sea' - personification shows frustration at nature continuing without regard for the events and direct address reminds reader they haven't experienced anything similar
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Chapters 7 + 8

Chapter 7 

  • 'My mum's response [to the redskin's visit] was to reach for our family history and pass on to me all that she knew' - Dolores values traditional ways of life and clings onto the past because of her husband leaving in the past. Wants things to return to normal for Matilda
  • 'She could not see what us kids had come to see: a kind man. She only saw a white man' - prejudice due to her husband being 'taken' by white men, repetition of pronoun 'she' shows further distance between Dolores and Matilda as Matilda rejects her prejudices

Chapter 8

  • 'Just before Christmas, two more babies died of malaria.' - short sentence may either convey her naivety or blase attitude because of how common this situation is now, juxtaposition of Christmas (happy time) and death portrays blockade and war but the escapism in Great Expec.
  • 'He seemed a brave man to us kids' - lack of brave male role models as they have all become rebels or are not acting brave in order to stay safe
  • '"A gentleman will always do the right thing"' - foreshadowing his own death, which is a sacrifice to save others, short sentence conveys certainty, difference in cultural values
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Chapters 10 + 11

Chapter 10

  • 'I was dying to pick it up and gaze at the words' - hyperbole to show how reliant she has become on the book as a form of escapism as the situation in Bougainville worsens
  • 'His linen suit and careful classroom manner concealed his frailty' - Mr Watts attempts to be a positive role model but it is not who he really is, adjectives show conceament of the 'real' Mr Watts

Chapter 11 

  • 'God would help us. We just needed to pray more.' - Matilda's short sentences give the impression she is scornful of this belief and looks down upon it, has lost hope in God
  • '"Some white fellas do not believe in the devil or God"' - 'fellas', rather than men, sounds derogatory and puts Mr Watts at a lower status, or may highlight her lack of education to encourage readers to disagree
  • 'He wore the rebel's bandanna. He carried an old rifle in his hand. He was barefoot and his clothes were ripped' - short sentences emphasise apprehension and fear because they do not know what he is like, repetition of pronoun 'he' distances them from him because they would be attacked if they were a rebel village
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Chapters 12 + 13

Chapter 12

  • 'Had she not done that, us kids would have thought we were hearing a story just about the devil, and we wouldn't have given the redskins a second thought' - naivety wearing off as the adults conceal less from the children, long sentence shows Matilda understands more about the situation
  • '"what if we were to say that on the page Pip and the devil have the same status?"' - controversial suggestion, question mark shows he thinks the two will be able to cooperate and come to an agreement on their beliefs, juxtaposition of 'Pip'- good character- and 'devil' -evil- shows conflict between white and black, redskins and rebels, Dolores and Matilda/Mr Watts
  • 'We stared back at Mr Watts for an explanation' - pronoun 'we' shows close community, noun 'explanation' highlights how as the only white man they want him to explain and solve

Chapter 13

  • 'I was confused by the book's ending' - foreshadowing for the ending of Mister Pip, metaphor for how as a child Matilda can't properly comprehend why people chose to do what they did
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Chapters 13 + 14

Chapter 13 (contd)

  • 'They arrived before dawn. Their helicopters put down way up the beach' - short sentence gives impression of increasing fear and tension, referred to as helicopters this time and not a metaphor or simile, shows how Matilda is taking it more seriously
  • 'the humidity rises and rises and gets heavier and heavier until, at last, it bursts. The rain falls and you breathe again' - metaphor of nature to represent tension and anticipation, shows how deeply ingrained nature is to their culture, something readers can understand

Chapter 14 

  • 'A trace of their original condition remained, but they were damaged beyond use' - metaphor for their old culture, traditions, lifestyle and how they've been destroyed by redskins
  • 'There were still fish in the sea. The fruits were still in the trees' - repetition of 'were still' shows how they constantly remind themselves, and their reliance on nature
  • 'the suffocating air of guilt' - personifying verb links to the trapping nature of the blockade, 'air' is natural imagery (recurring theme, nature trapping them in, reliance and culture), abstract noun 'guilt' shows they are helpless and can't do anything, feeling is something readers know
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Chapters 15 + 17

Chapter 15

  • 'They came upon us like cats' - similie compares them to animals showing how they are closer to nature, more wild and savage. Cats often torment their prey
  • 'It had not occured to me before to think of the ocean as a dumb, useless thing' - nature imagery, so powerful yet no help to their situation, realising that it is people not the sea trapping them here like this
  • 'Something about containment that at the same time offers escape' - juxtaposition, puts an emphasis on the value of being able to control own containment 
  • 'We still had the air. We still had the freshwater streams. We had fruit. We had our gardens' - nature imagery increases as they lose more, short sentences and repetition show desperation, inclusive pronoun juxtaposes with how the community is slowly falling apart

Chapter 17

  • 'I suppose you heard. Grace Watts is dead' - short sentence mimics Dolores' feelings and impact on reader
  • 'the sound of my mum's hand falling on the ground between us' - metaphorical barrier
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Chapters 18, 19 + 21

Chapter 18

  • 'We were mice listening out for the scampering feet of cats' - metaphor for their weakness, fear, comparisons to nature show even greater reliance 

Chapter 19

  • 'They were our boys, but there were no faces in that lot that we knew' - comma dvides 'us and them', acts as a physical boundary, noun 'boys' emphasises how they are only children yet still affected by the conflict
  • '"Seven nights in total"' - biblical reference, story of creation like the new life Mr Watts is hoping to create for himself, Matilda and Dolores, buying as much time as possible 

Chapter 21

  • 'I followed Mr Watts in the same unthinkingly loyal way that a dog gets up and follows its master' - admiration, natural imagery, looks up to Mr Watts as a role model and compares herself to something below a human
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Chapter 23

Chapter 23

  • 'a pale thread of moon whispered to me: a new moon was on its way' - personification shows Matilda's eagerness to leave and escape for her new life, colon separates present from what she hopes to be the future
  • 'what did he mean by 'Of course not'? He would tell my mum? Or he would accept my decision?' - rhetorical questions show Matilda's confusion and disorientate the reader as well- lots of questions in this chapter, reflecting on events as an adult
  • 'I waited for the sun to pick itself up off the horizon' - personification, only light source, symbolises hope and chance, meant to be like Mr Watts is to Matilda
  • 'I remember feeling preternaturally calm' - long complex word suggests it was this very event that forced Matilda to grow up and mature so suddenly
  • '"I am here as God's witness"' - repetition of 'God's witness' many times in the chapter, shows insistence and her determination to make up for her wrong doings in the past, 
  • 'How sick he was of malaria. How sick of everything he was. How sick of being a human being' - repetition, Matilda realising the world isn't divided into 'good and bad', he's carrying out a duty 
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Chapters 23 + 24

Chapter 23 (ctnd)

  • 'All the lovely things in the world came into view- the gleaming sea, the sky, the trembling green palms' - juxtaposition, natural imagery, aware that despite all the present horrors, there is still beauty in the rest of the world, already recognising the sacrifice Dolores has made, dash separates beauty from horror
  • 'The day held so many layers, almost too many things, constradictory things, all jumbled up, that the world lost any sense of order' - long sentence with multiple clauses reflects how even years later the memories are unclear and difficult to recall, commas represent how she can divide her life up into sections based on horrific events

Chapter 24

  • 'If I'd known about a switch to pull in order to turn off the living part, I might have reached for it' - metaphor for how she's lost all hope and will to live, numbness, links to natural imagery of how the sun was vital for life and now she wants it to turn off
  • 'it [the rain] would soon pass' - metpahor and pathetic fallacy, certain she would recover and continue with life
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Chapter 24

Chapter 24 (ctnd)

  • 'It is furious with itself' -  personification, reflects Matilda's own feelings about herself
  • 'Land. I could feel its certainty, its beautiful certainty' - nature has been used as a barrier containing them for the whole book but now Matilda appreciates it as rescuing her, short sentence shows shock and gratitude and new outlook, repetiton
  • 'What would you call a saviour?' - direct address and rhetorical question remind reader they (presumably older than Matilda) have nothing in their lives to compare it to
  • 'hot chocolate was my second experience of the outside world' - literal escapism, not living up to expectations, 'outside world' something she hasn't experienced in her lifetime
  • 'Why don't you tell me about your mum.' - not a question but an 'order', the doctor represents the world and life and society forcing her to acknowledge and accept the events

Chapter 25

  • 'To this day I cannot read Pip's confession [...] without feeling the same of my island' - still applies Pip's story to her life but has been forced to change the way she does so
  • 'supplied me with a world at a time when it was desperately needed'
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