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Empire of the Sun by James Graham Ballard

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  1. Everywhere in the city people were watching movie reels of the war.
  2. Behind Dr. Lockwood's estate was the Hungjao airfield where the Chinese faught the Japanese in 1937 trying to keep them from reaching Shanghai.
  3. Jim woke up in his room on the 10th floor of the Palace Hotel they stayed in that night and looked out the window to see the Shanghai waterfront.
  4. Finally the reality of his situation is sinking in.
  5. Jim was half his size and looked older from the time he spent scrounging for food.
  6. Jim is happy to have been caught because he is hoping to be sent to the same camp his mother or father are being held at.
  7. The truck full of prisoners of war set off for the camp in Woosung.
  8. They traveled in the truck for days trying to find an already established prisoner camp.
  9. Jim is doing whatever he needs to survive and the book takes a new turn in part two.
  10. Dr. Ransome told Jim to eat the tomatoes himself and gave Jim two condoms to give to Basie.
  11. The prisoners were so weak they could not make the journey and sat down to die.
  12. Jim still has no sense of security but the food dropped from the sky gives him happiness.
  13. Even though Jim is reunited with his parents and has his belongings back from his previous life, nothing is the same.

Jim, an eleven year old boy, and his parents are living in a wealthy European area in Shanghai during World War II. The novel begins the evening before the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Most of the European families had already been evacuated from China, and there were many scrambling to get aboard ships even with the threat of German submarines near the Yangtze River. Jim and his family, on this night, were planning to attend a Christmas party at a friend, Dr. Lockwood's house.

Everywhere in the city people were watching movie reels of the war. Even Jim, after church the Sunday morning of December 7th, was taken down to the crypt of the church with the other choir boys and forced to watch reels of the war before they could go home.

[...] Jim never understood how her family could all survive living in one room that was the size of his dressing room, and he enjoyed subtly teasing her by asking her about the size of the room over and over again while she helped pick out his silk shirt and velvet trousers. When Jim was ready for the party he went downstairs and his parents were studying the map figuring the Germans would be in Moscow by Christmas. His father had been spending much more time with him lately. [...]


[...] Even though Basie uses Jim for whatever he needs to survive, Jim is saved repeatedly by the help of Basie. Without Basie Jim never would have survived this long. Chapter 39 Summary Basie and the others in the gang took Jim and used him for a scout. Whenever they went to a village or area that they thought they could salvage something to sell Jim would be sent ahead just in case someone was there to fire at them. Close to the Lunghau camp they got caught in the middle of a battle between the Chinese Communist soldiers and the Chinese Kuomintang soldiers. [...]


[...] There is a parallel between the sick dieing people in the cinema getting one bowl of rice and a potato a day and the beggar in front of Jim's house who the chauffer ran over his foot and Jim's mother said he would be alright because they would give him a bowl of rice. The food didn't make a difference, the beggar still died just like the food isn't making a difference for most of the people around Jim, they are dieing. [...]

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