The Hidden Subtext of the Title 'Inside Out and Back Again'

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How would you define a refugee? A refugee is someone who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”. The title ‘Inside Out and Back Again’ relates to refugees fleeing and finding a home because the refugees life is turned ‘inside out’ when they have to flee and returning home relates to the ‘back again’. Three examples of the “inside out” (or the challenges) are the living conditions, the loss of loved ones, and overcrowding. Three examples of the “back again” (or the solutions) are they get to learn about new cultures/ languages, meet new people, and maybe get to return home or at least find a “new home”.

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In ‘Inside Out and Back Again’ this follows a fictional character named Ha as is based on the real Vietnam war. Ha and her family have become refugees escaping communism in South Vietnam. In some of the other texts in our workbook like ‘Refugees: Who, Where, Why’ and ‘Children of War’, both describe life turned inside out due to fleeing their home. ‘Refugees share small huts that are made of tree branches, mud, and plastic sheeting.’ Ha shares a boat that is overcrowded and could sink. ‘Bodies crammed every centimeter below deck’. In ‘Children of War’, seventeen year old Amela Kameni talks about her ‘father, an economics professor, was kidnapped and killed by Serb forces in 1992’. In ‘Inside Out and Back Again’ Ha talks about her father getting kidnapped as well. “He was captured on Route 1”. All three texts talk about the terrible conditions like hospitals being overrun, schools are overcrowded, and refugee camps are not permanent homes. They have to ration food because there is not enough for everyone. “Morning, noon, and night we eash get one clump of rice, small, medium, large, according to our height.

When we are describing the solutions of finding a home or the “back again” as I like to call it we look at all refugees fictional and not to see how they are coping with the change. In “Inside Out and Back Again”, Ha is learning english “All day I practice squeezing hisses through my teeth”. She also talks about trying “American Chicken” for the first time. “ The skin tastes as promised, crunchy and salty, hot and spicy”. Refugees usually have to learn new languages and cultures when they are uprooted from their home. In “Children of War” and ‘Refugees: Who, Where, Why’ the text talks about making new friends “Here, people don’t judge you by your religion. When I say that i’m a Muslim they don’t react like “Oh i don’t want to be with you, I don’t want to be your friend because you are Muslim”. Lastly, even though some refugees are able to return home the majorty have to make a “new home” somewhere else. In all three texts they talk about the refugees moving forward. “Sometimes I wish I’d stayed there, watching the war, rather than being here, safe, but without friends.” ‘Most refugees cannot return home, nor can they stay in their country of asylum. They must resettle in a new country’. “Amela: My graduation is next year, so I have to think about college. I want to get my family here, or, if that doesn’t happen, send them money because life is really hard there”.

In conclusion, the title ‘Inside Out and Back Again’ , “Children of War” and ‘Refugees: Who, Where, Why’ compare the challenges of fleeing their home. These challenges are living conditions, the loss of loved ones, and overcrowding. These texts also explain the solutions of finding a home as a refugee. Those solutions are learning about new cultures/ languages, meeting new people, and maybe getting to return home or at least find a “new home”. These refugees learn to move on with their lives.  

07 July 2022

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