Analyzing “Split” by Swati Avasthi

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So a couple months ago, I was reading this book, Split, by Swati Avasthi for an English class of mine. I, without a doubt, enjoyed the book I was reading. Here’s my analysis that I wrote:

Split is an award-winning, realistic fiction book written by Swati Avasthi. The book has a total number of 280 pages, and it could be found in our school library. The story focuses mainly on two brothers, Jace and Christian Witherspoon. After years of suffering from abuse from his father, Jace eventually runs away from home like his older brother did before. Finding himself, bruised and tattered, at Christian’s doorsteps, Christian decides to take him in because he is family. Along with new identities and new friends, the story centers on the two brothers settling into a better life while trying to figure a way to rescue someone that has been unable to escape from the wrath of their enemy for years: their mother. However, they are left with a devastating answer. This report will focus on one of the primary protagonists, Jace Witherspoon, a significant event, and the overall theme that the author is trying to convey.

Jace Witherspoon is a determined, responsible, and secretive sixteen year-old teen. Throughout the whole story, Jace has one goal: to save his mother from the pain afflicted by his father. He never gives up on his objective, even when his older brother Christian was ready to move on. The mother soon rejects the brothers’ attempt to rescue her, and Jace is unable to cope with it, shedding many tears, showing how unyielding he was about the situation the whole time. Adding on the Jace’s character, he could not blame anyone except himself after hitting his ex-girlfriend. This shows he is able to accept responsibility for his actions, not holding Lauren accountable even though she slept with his supposed best friend. This is where his brother sees the difference between Jace and his father; Jace knows that he is erroneous in his actions while his father just does again and again, never accepting the fact that he is a savage animal. When questioned by Mirriam, his brother’s girlfriend, about sensitive topics, Jace tends to be quiet and tries to change or leave the conversation, like when he says: “This isn’t let’s-analyze-Jace hour, all right?” to her on page 170. Jace doesn’t like to talk, and it could be possibly because of a past life that was too dark, he is unable to let his emotions out. However, Mirriam is soon able to open his reserved self because all he needed was a light to guide him. Jace Witherspoon is a perfect example of a loving son, a responsible young man, and a victim of abuse.

The most significant and painful event in this story is the point where Christian and Jace are forced to realize that their mother wants to stay with their father, despite their futile attempt to rescue her and the fact that their father only brings her agony. It seems that Jace is most affected by this, and on page 240, he describes it as: “I’m a mess through Illinois…by the time we hit the Missouri border, I’ve dried up and all that’s left is that hiccupping-after-sobbing thing that I haven’t done since I was like nine.” This shows how he can’t accept why his mother wouldn’t leave hell when given the chance. Jace also mentioned that he hadn’t cried like that since he was nine; actions that show regression to an earlier age usually mean that one is going through extreme confusion and horrors. However, Christian was not as affected because he didn’t just come to rescue his mother; he came with a knife in his hand. Throughout the story, it’s evident that Christian loves his mother, but he was already prepared to endure his mother’s possibly ill-fated choice because she had never rebelled against her husband before. The knife in Christian’s hand is a symbol for protection, just in case his father comes after him and Jace, but he seems to want to get a chance to hurt his father as well. Christian and Jace’s mother had promised them that this time she would leave home to go with them. This adds to the heartbreaking impact of the event because she broke a promise, something that ended up hurting her two children, people who are supposed to matter to her the most in her life. This only revealed the type of person that she really is: a weak-minded female who needs to latch on to a man with power over her whole life. Though this incident could have inflicted scars on the two brothers, they eventually have to strive forward and shouldn’t be left worrying about a docile and senseless woman.

The overall theme that the author is trying to convey is that one can’t let his or her past affect what they do in the future; one cannot blame one’s mistakes because of his or her past. Christian Marshall is a brilliant example of that because he didn’t let what his father did make him a monster; instead he ended up a good man, never hurting anyone and achieving academically in school, earning a scholarship to New York University. This shows that even though his father hurt his mother emotionally and physically, Christian had never even thought of hurting Mirriam or anyone who loves him. Also, he did not allow his tragic past to force himself into a poor emotional state; instead he put that aside and managed to move one with life. Jace Witherspoon is another prime example because even though he had hit Lauren, he accepted his mistake and apologized to her. Though she continued to latch on to him, he had to end his relationship because he knew that he had made a grave mistake, while his dad would just say sorry and repeat the deadly action whenever he wants to. Jace didn’t say that his father was the one who made him act that way because he knew that there was no one to accuse but himself. Through the story’s two main protagonists, a universal theme about accepting responsibility and forging one’s own path is clearly shown.

Overall, I believe Split is a very well-written, heart-wrenching, emotional, and solid story. I chose to read this book because I had heard about its strong reviews and awards, and I like to read realistic fiction, particularly through the eyes of a teenager with a life that is relatable and believable. This story not only teaches us about responsibility and independence but also the fact that there are cruel people just like Jace’s father that exist in our world. I would recommend this book to the more mature readers in this class because of the story’s strong language, violence, and sensuality. I know that I will always remember this book because it provides an extremely interesting storyline, especially one that revolves around two brothers accepting their past and looking forward to their future.

DISCUSSION:

I remember after finishing the book, I was furious with the mother’s decision to stay with the father. I mean, why would you want to stay with a man who has been torturing you for years? Wouldn’t you rather go with your two sons who have been fighting so much to get you back? Is she that dumb? I then decided to bring this matter to the dinner table one day while eating with the family, and my mom decided to read the book herself.

When she finally finished the book, she told me that some people are so used to the abuse that they believe that it’s okay. That’s just insane, but I guess after years of it, their minds might get so demented that this is the horrific result. The problem is, couldn’t she at least know that her children were more important than some monster? That’s exactly why I’m calling her mindless. It’s just so evident; anyone could tell that her children are the ones that love her. They’re the ones shedding tears. She has to know that they’re the ones fighting for her. I mean, even if the monster is a judge or whatever and can hunt them down and find some cover-up, there’s three of them, and they can eventually fight back and win. But no. She’d rather be hurt and tortured for the rest of her life, though it’s probably likely that she won’t even live that long at this rate of pain.

I hate the fact that monsters like the father exist out in this world. I wonder how much better the world would be if people them didn’t exist? I honestly don’t think that people like them don’t deserve to live, but I’d probably get condemned by a lot of people just for saying that. People are going to tell me that that’s a human too, and every life is valuable. I ask you, can we even consider that man a human anymore? Is the pain he inflicts upon others make him closer to a monster or a human? So I really don’t think that we’re killing another human, we’re just putting down an animal. Will the law be able to give out the death sentence? Or will it not be able to serve justice?

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However, if this man goes to jail, it’s expected that he will be abused by the other prisoners because NO ONE will ever accept spousal and child abuse.

~Dennis

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