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Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac

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The book “Code Talker” by author Joseph Bruchac is a very interesting book about a Navajo Native American and his life being a marine in World War II. Bruchac uses setting, plot development, and cultural perspective well in this book.

“Code Talker” begins with a young Navajo boy and his journey to a United States government led school. There he must get his cultural long hair shaved. Also, he must learn English and never use his sacred Navajo language. His Navajo clothes are taken from him and he is a given military style school uniform. At the school they assign each of the Native Americans with new Americanized names. He became Ned Begay. Him and his Native American peers are constantly being devalued for being Native Americans and are treated as being unintelligent compared to white children. He though excels in his classes and goes to a Native American high school. During this time the United States becomes involved in World War II.

At first Native Americans were not allowed to become soldiers. But the government later feels the need not only for Native Americans in general but for Navajos especially. Ned is sixteen and he must be eighteen to join the military. But, since he was born on a reservation there is no way of validating his age. So, he goes to parents to see if they will allow him but they deny it, though they said that if the war continues next year he may. He waits a year and his parents let him enlist. Ned later finds that Navajos are needed to create and use a code based on their own language, their sacred language that not too long ago the Navajos were strongly discourage from using. Since the Navajo language is very hard to understand it became a perfect code.

Ned may not speak of his and the other Navajos’ job as code talkers and are remained top secret. He and the other Navajos are put in charge of radio communication in the field. He goes to many different islands in the Pacific, including Iwo Jima. After the war he is praised by people in the big cities while he is in his U.S. Marine uniform, but when he goes back to his home and sits in a bar he is thrown out for being “Indian”. Ned Begay finds that though Navajos have played a major part in the war they are treated just as badly as they did before it. The Navajos would not be awarded or even openly discussed for their efforts during the war until years later.

Joseph Bruchac describes setting well in this book, like when he describes Ned thinking back to his time on Iwo Jima on page 186 of the book, “A burning Sherman tank lifted right up into the air and flipped upside down by the explosion of a 500-pound bomb that had been buried as a mine… Then there were the smells. The odor of sulfur was everywhere. IT mixed with the burning gasoline from the flamethrowers and napalm bombs, the sharp tang of gunpowder, the overheated metal of machine gun barrels, so hot they were melting.”

He also made very good plot development. As the story starts it is about a young Navajo’s life in conflict with the ideals of the white man and ended as a story about the Navajo role in World War II.

Bruchac writes well using the voice of a Navajo Marine telling his grandchildren about his medal. He uses the Navajo’s cultural perspective to explain the story in a different way than what would normally be written about the Second World War. Also, the cultural perspective of Navajos affects the main character’s outlook on many things, because Navajo children are taught to be humble among other things.

I would recommend this book to those who like historical fiction, suspense, and action. Also those who would like to learn more about the World War II and more specifically the Navajo’s roll in it. “Code Talker” by Joseph Bruchac is a suspenseful page turner and easy to get into.




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

SkyDeer said...
Nov. 22, 2010 at 6:32 pm:
I want to read this book!
 
saavannna_ replied...
today at 2:25 pm :
as goood as this artical is the book isnt so great . i love to read but its just a boring book .
 
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