Describe at least one important idea in the written text. Explain how this idea is relevant to teenagers in today’s world.
“Noughts and Crosses” is a novel written by Malorie Blackman. It follows the story of two teenagers called Callum and Sephy who come from completely different sides of society. Callum is a Nought, and Sephy is a Cross. Like the game ‘Noughts and Crosses’, the two different groups within society are against each other, and one has to win/be better. An important idea that is portrayed throughout the book is racial segregation and this is not only seen in their society as a whole but also within Callum and Sephy’s friendship and their romantic relationship. Many aspects of this idea are relevant to teenagers in today’s world.
An important theme in “Noughts and Crosses” is racial segregation. This is illustrated by how Noughts and Crosses are extremely segregated within society, and how Crosses openly say racist things about Noughts throughout the story. When Sephy says “STOP IT! YOU’RE ALL BEHAVING LIKE ANIMALS!..WORSE THAN ANIMALS – LIKE BLANKERS!”, it contradicts many of her previous actions and opinions, which demonstrates how accidental that insult was. This shows us how the environment Crosses are brought up in can affect their perspective on society and make racism so built-in, they don’t even realise. The word “Blanker” means blank/nothing, like how “Nought” means zero. These words show how lowly Crosses think of Noughts, and how Noughts are basically seen as a waste of space. The portrayal of racial segregation in the novel forces us to think about whether our everyday vocabulary has racist meanings, and how it could offend others. The idea of racial segregation and being aware of our own privileges is still relevant to teenagers in today’s world. This is especially relevant to the “Black lives matter” protests happening at the moment (which are calling attention to the discrimination of black people), and the everyday words that people are using to intentionally make others feel worthless because of their race (like Noughts). Malorie Blackman has included this important idea to call attention to the fact that we often accidently turn a blind eye to things in our society that are unintentionally, but extremely racist. Her use of the idea of racial segregation makes us think about how teenagers are sometimes influenced by the people around them to view racism in certain ways, good and bad.
Another time the theme of racial segregation is seen in the novel is within Sephy and Callum’s friendship. We know from the instant we meet Callum and Sephy that they are best friends with an unbreakable bond, which is extremely unusual for Noughts and Crosses to have. “They were good friends playing. Real good friends.” This line in the Prologue is an example of how Callum and Sephy’s friendship is perceived by Meggie in the earlier stages of their lives, and it is interesting for us to see how problem-free Callum and Sephy’s friendship is and how their racial differences aren’t an issue, because as they both grow older, the racial segregation fused into their society starts to affect their friendship. This highlights how when we are young, we don’t tend to notice racial differences and it certainly doesn’t put a strain on our friendships, but as we grow older like Sephy and Callum, the more we notice it and the more damage it does to our friendships. Callum and Sephy try not to let society and racism interfere with their friendship; however, this is proven to be difficult for them as they are both trying to push away from their family’s beliefs as well as society’s. The way racial segregation affects Callum and Sephy’s friendship pushes us as readers to think about whether racial segregation ever determines who we form friendships with, and whether we tend to stick with people of the same race. The important idea of racial segregation is relevant to teenagers in today’s world because it’s a huge issue which effects many friendships. Malorie Blackman has used the idea of racial segregation in order to challenge our thinking about what we prioritise in our friendships and whether we let racism and racial segregation prevent us from forming a friendship with someone.
In “Noughts and Crosses” the idea of racial segregation is also seen within Callum and Sephy’s romantic relationship. During the story, Callum and Sephy are constantly trying to battle against society’s expectations in order to be together and go to extreme lengths to keep each other safe, despite how much trouble and danger I could put them in, telling us the depth of care and love they feel for one another. An example of this is when Callum makes his way to the mall as quick as he can so he can get Sephy away from the bombing. Callum says, “love was like an avalanche, with Sephy and I hand-in-hand racing like hell to get out of its way - only, instead of running away from it, we kept running straight towards it.” This quote is an example of how difficult it is to have a Nought-Cross relationship in their society because Callum and Sephy try hard to avoid their love for each other because they know it will never work. Unlike most stories that usually have the classic “happily ever after” ending, “Noughts and Crosses” has a more realistic ending which basically tells us that love isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. This helps us develop a better understanding of how sometimes love just isn’t enough to form a positive relationship, especially when society is racially segregated. Malorie Blackman has incorporated this idea to demonstrate how much a racist society and upbringing can affect a relationship, even if the people in the relationship love each other. Racial segregation in relationships is relevant to teenagers in today’s world because this is often an issue, even though the challenges that come with this may not be as extreme and the things Callum and Sephy face. The author has used Sephy and Callum as an example of this as this is one of the struggles that they face throughout the novel, making us as teenagers realise how complicated love can be.
“Noughts and Crosses” clearly illustrates the important ideas of racial segregation This idea has enabled us to think about the similarities in our society and how it rselevant to teenagers in today’s world. Malorie Blackman has represented this idea in a very clever way, forcing us to think about the wider meanings of certain words and actions relating to racial segregation, how it can effect friendships, and how it can outweigh love in relationships.