Authority and Ambition: A Publication Day Guest Post by Mehreen Ahmed, Author of The Pacifist

9 Aug

Authority and Ambition in “The Pacifist”: A Guest Post by Mehreen Ahmed
The Pacifist

The Pacifist is not just an historical fiction that romanticises the adventurous spirit of the gold rush period in Australia. Largely, the novel documents the dark sides of institutional power and effects of blind ambition. From the outset, The Pacifist illustrates such themes through troubled characters. Malcolm’s strange upbringing, Rose’s mental illness and supernatural encounters, Peter’s idealised vision of a good life. Consequences, hinging on the existence of an orphanage, at the heart of it.

In The Pacifist, the orphanage is not portrayed as the safe haven, it should be. In fact, children are seen suffering in the hands of a deplorable pedophile. The most vulnerable in our society in the grips of the most despicable, inexcusable. This warrants an investigation into the facilities that society comes to put their trust in. While the story focuses on this one example of an institution taking advantage of the unfortunate, the orphanage renders itself as a symbol for the greater injustices that happen. A system of authority imposing its will on the less fortunate; this is not a new idea; still, one that needs rigorous reinvestigation. Through fiction, we can find newer ways to reopen a thesis, identify antithesis through to possible synthesis.

This institution designates Brown as farmer to a property, owned by Badgerys Creek Orphanage. Its strict caveat precludes him from making any serious money; overtime, he falls into a trap of extreme poverty and desperation. Metaphorically, this caveat is that destructive force of institutional power, a gate-less keeper, no less, which keeps the farmer perpetually broke and under constant subservience. However, this state of overwhelming poverty somewhat has a deluding effect on him. Deluded in his mind, he thinks that he can break through, gain freedom by leaving the farm, when he can’t. The orphanage anchors down not just him to the farm, but the caveat stipulates that the farm be noosed around his successors too; his future generation of offsprings, thus perpetuating a system. A system to keep the poor, poor forever – a recurrent theme, like light and dark, night and day, poverty and wealth, one justifying the other.

Ambition is a good thing, but where does one draw a line between ambition and greed? Peter seeks to climb up the social strata by working hard. His role in the novel is to show that there is a fine line separating success and greed. Understanding this is important if one were to avoid serious repercussion. His family is thrown into turmoil as a result of his unwillingness to find a balance between living a life and seeking wealth. A situation which eventually bankrupts him morally. A wasteland of nihilism follows, betraying happiness and love; no amount of wealth can absolve this sin.

While set in the nineteenth century, The Pacifist contains themes that are relevant today. It is an attempt to point out how institutional power can often act as impediment in our struggle to grow and win.

Linda's Book Bag

pacifist

I receive literally dozens of review and guest blog requests every day, and sadly I simply can’t accommodate them all. However, when Cosmic Teapot (how’s that for a name?) asked if I’d feature The Pacifist by Mehreen Ahmed which is set in Australia, a country I loved visiting, I had to grab the opportunity.

The Pacifist is published by Cosmic Teapot today, 11th May 2017, and is available for purchase from Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes and B&N.

The Pacifist

pacifist

In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An ageing man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labour. Unbeknown to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has…

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