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Mau In Nation

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Nation is a novel by Terry Pratchett. Set on the Nation, a tropical island in the Great Southern Pelagic Ocean, a substitute for the South Pacific, the book details the events that follow a tsunami that causes widespread devastation across the Great Southern Pelagic. Mau, the protagonist, is a member of the community that inhabits the Nation. At the beginning of the novel, Mau is returning from a coming of age ritual on the nearby Boys’ Island, and survives the tidal wave whilst at sea. He returns to the Nation to find that everybody on the island had been killed by the natural disaster. This is a significant adversity that Mau faces throughout the novel and it forces him to become a capable leader, profoundly influences his identity,…show more content…
He first acknowledges this role when Pilu, Milo, and Cahle arrive and ask for the Nation’s chief. As he is the only surviving member of the Nation, Mau responds by asserting that he is the chief. While Mau is recognized as the chief of the new community, some of the newcomers remain doubtful of his competence. Daphne notes that when referring to Mau, “[t]hey used a kind of code, about ‘the poor boy’, and how hard it must be, and somewhere in it all there was … the suggestion that he wasn’t old enough to be chief” (290). However, by the end of the novel, Mau has become a proven and respected leader, particularly after the Raiders are repulsed. When the residents of the Nation deliberate on accepting English suzerainty, “[t]hey all [look] at Mau” (372). That Mau is the only survivor of the tsunami from his community leads him to establish himself as a leader figure for the refugees who arrive on the Nation thereafter. While they initially question his suitability for this role, Mau demonstrates that he is a capable chief and is recognized as…show more content…
It is a traditional belief of the Nation that “[y]ou left your boy soul [on the Boy’s Island] and got given a man soul when you got back to the Nation” (14). When departing from the Boys’ Island to return to the Nation, Mau remarks that “[h]e’d be like mihei gawi, the little blue hermit crab, scuttling from his shell to a new one once a year, easy prey for any passing squid” (16). Shortly after the wave, Mau again identifies as a blue hermit crab, remarking that “he [has] no soul [because he did not undergo the ceremonies that would grant one a man soul]. His boy soul had vanished with the island, and he’d never get a man soul now. He [is] the blue hermit crab, hurrying from one shell to another, and the big shell he had thought he could see had been taken away” (107). At this time, he views his situation negatively. However, he later embraces this identity. He declares that “[he is] the little blue hermit crab … [a]nd [he is] running. But [he will] not be trapped in a shell again, because … any shell will be too small. [He wants] to know why” (174-5). In this quote, he uses “any shell” as a metaphor for the narrow religious doctrine held by Ataba and the Grandfathers, and expresses his desire for knowledge. As a consequence of the adversity associated with the tidal wave, Mau compares himself to a little blue hermit crab, scuttling between souls. As the novel progresses, Mau accepts and adopts this
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