Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard deals with many issues that help shape humans. Ballard presents many issues which help shape humans to think and act, especially the character Jim.
The maturation of Jim is a major importance because he is able to adapt to different surroundings and also to different people. Jim’s maturation lasts through the entire book and takes a long time because he is constantly changing his attitude and environment. Jim is a British boy living in Shanghai, he is rich and is used to servants doing things for him but then ends up in concentration camps were he has to care for himself. For Jim this would have been a big change that would have been difficult to adapt to, especially someone who is used to servants and coolies doing everything for you. Another hard change for him would have been not having his parents around and because of this was not taken care of and also had to basically be slave for everyone in the camp.
Having to run around for everyone else is very demanding on a person especially if they are starving and having malnutrition problems. This makes the reader feel empathy for Jim and makes you hope that better things will come for him. While Jim slaved for Basie, we feel empathy for Jim because he is wasting his energy while Basie just relaxes and watches Jim tire himself out, in this part of the book I felt deeply for Jim because he isn’t realising that he is just about killing himself just to make a friend that doesn’t actually like him but is just using him. For me this was depressing because you wouldn’t think someone could be that shameless in using a 8 year old kid as your slave and then faking to be his friend, Basie even tried to sell Jim but this didn’t seem to affect Jim.
While Jim is in Longhua Camp it makes you think what you would do in Jim’s place because some conflicts really get you thinking if you would do that if you had to live. I would find it hard to fake that someone is still alive when they are dead just in order to get food, but likes Jim’s maturation in the mind you find ways of bypassing thoughts like this and just do what is necessary for staying alive. In this situation the environment does shape people to think and act differently.
While Jim was in the Olympic Stadium we really get to know all the feelings of all the characters, especially Jim’s feelings for Mr Maxted. This situation is quite emotional for Jim and is basically the only time he cries, so from this we learn that Jim is becoming more mature and is having strong relationships with certain people. This situation seemed to show the more mature Jim that was forming strong bonds with people. The Olympic Stadium defiantly made humans think and act.
Ballard has done a great job in making humans think and act differently through different environments that also shape characters personalities.