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Little Bee and the Refugee Crisis: A Comparison

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Lara Ruolo

Mr. Lombardo

English 1 (3)

17 October 2016

Little Bee and the Refugee Crisis: A Comparison

Christopher Cleave’s Little Bee is a story of hardship of the journey of a Nigerian refugee. At a young age she had to flee her home country and find a new life in a suburban area in England. She intertwined her life with the life of a journalist named Sarah Summers. Even though this is a fictional story, the horror that Little Bee encounters is ubiquitous. When Little Bee goes into detail about her horrors, we feel sympathy and we experience horror for a long time beside her. The only problem is the thousands of people that Little Bee represents continue to feel horror while we forget about it after we finish the book. Little Bee’s horror story is a reflection of what is happening to the masses of other refugees in many different countries.

Little Bee comes from a small village in Nigeria. One day “...women had to grab us children and run with us into the jungle. We hid there while we listened to the screams of the men who stayed behind to fight” (181) This had happened to her so suddenly, without knowledge or warning. Little Bee and her Sister Nkiruka fled their village, but they knew they were not safe because “The men were hunting down the fleeing women and children and burying their bodies under branches and rocks.” (101) After days of hiding Little Bee and Nkiruka come across an English couple. They beg to be taken back to their compound. When the guard asks who was hunting them Little Bee said “The same men who burned our village. The oil company’s men.” (107).

Later in the book, after the men found them, the British couple returned to their compound. Little Bee and her sister were taken down the beach. Little Bee was forced under a boat while her sister was raped and beaten. “Near the end I heard Nkiruka begging to die. I heard the hunters laughing. Then I listened to my sister’s bones being broken one by one.”(132) Little Bee must stay under the boat and feel helpless while she listened to her sister dying. I can't even imagine how gruesome that must have been.

You find out in little bits of the entire story on what happened throughout the book. She never really knew why the men came. She knew who they were, but did not understand why they were doing what they did. We find out it was for control of the oil underneath her villages land. All that brutality for oil. In the book, when Little Bee had been in England for a while, her and Sarah had to get gas for her car. Little bee said, “The gasoline flowing through the pump made a high-pitched sound, as if the screaming of my family was still dissolved in it.” (181) Little Bee is not the only person who goes through horror in this book. She mentions that everyone had a story. The stories went like, “ The men came and they -burned my village- tied my girls- raped my girls- took my girls- whipped my husband- cut my breast- I ran away…”(11)

Just how Little Bee said many shared a similar story, there are millions of refugees in the world right now who are living those stories. The current refugee crisis is happening world wide. Syria is where most of the refugees are coming from at this time. 4.8 million refugees have escaped Syria, but there are 6 million within Syria who still need humanitarian assistance. The Syrian civil war is what is causing these people to seek safety elsewhere. 386 thousand people have been killed from terrorists, combat, and just from seeking refuge. 14 thousand of those people were children. In Syria, the city of Aleppo has been bombed beyond recognition. A refugee story of Dania Amroosh talks about what happened to her the day Aleppo was bombed. “Five months ago, Dania and her family were sitting in their home in Aleppo, Syria, about 60 miles south of here, when a bomb dropped from the sky. Her grandmother, aunt, uncle and two cousins were killed instantly. Another cousin lost his legs. Dania was mangled.”(Changing Regions, Changing Lives - The Washington Post - Dania is now left with ragged scars down her stomach and face, she can not walk either. Worst of all she is only seven years old.

Even though we are familiar with Syria, that is not the only place where people are forced to seek another place to live. If we look at Nigeria, they are dealing with the horror of Boko Haram. Boko Haram is a terrorist organization focused on making Northern Nigeria an Islamic State. They have destroyed thousands of civilian locations such as schools, churches, houses, and towns. They have confessed to abducting 300 school girls, threatening to either sell them as slaves or marry them and rape them as little as nine. (Nigeria's Boko Haram: Who Are They and What Do They Want? - National Geographic - Some girls that were captured have escaped. One girl came back to a home where her little brother was killed out of retaliation from the militants not receiving their ransom money. (Surviving Boko Haram: Kidnapped girls tell their stories - PBS Newshour - Boko Haram is only one of the thousands of things these refugees are fleeing from. All of them equally horrific.

Horrors don't just occur in their country. They happen fleeing their country. Little Bee stowed away on a shipping boat that exported tea. “Three weeks and five thousand miles on a tea ship.” (129) One time she was in such a tight space she had to come up for air. The captain of the ship had seen her, and put her in a small room. When they docked in England, the captain turned her into the authorities, and they put her in the detention center.

This is what Little Bee would go through to escape. She went through all of this just to be locked up in a detention center. The detention center changed Little Bee. After what she had been through, she was always scared of when the men might come. This changed her attitude. Whenever the men come “I work out how I would kill myself there.” (47) We hear these different scenarios throughout the book. This is what had helped her through the detention center. It made her feel in control of her situation unlike her sister. She was scared of the men in the detention center so she would dress in hideous clothes and “under my clothes I wound a wide strip of cotton around my chest, to make my breasts look small and



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