Little Brother – Literary Elements Analysis

by   Posted on March 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

For this overly exciting blog post for English class, I will be talking about the character, setting, plot, conflict and POV in little brother, all of that fun stuff that everyone has been discussing since grade 3. First, I will be giving a brief description of each of these elements, and then I will explain how I think the author’s choosing to use those elements effect the book overall.

* Note, if you’ve already read the book, just skip untill you find the red text. If you haven’t, there are some minor spoilers bellow, but nothing big.

Character: The main character in the book is Marcus, a 17 year old geek who enjoys getting around the security mesures put in place by his school and the government.  He is faced with many tough challenges throught the book and makes for a pretty believable teenager.  Other, side characters include Ange, Marcus’ girlfriend, Jolu, one of Marcus’s good friends, Darrel, one of Marcus’ best friends who is detained by the DHS throughout most of the book and severe haircut woman, as she is refered to by Marcus.  She is one of the top people in the DHS and is primarily responsible for the ill-treatment that prisioners at Gitimo-by-the-Bay recieve.

Setting: The story in Little Brother takes place in the city of San Fransisco, U.S.A.  There are a variety of scenes in the book, but for the most part, the story takes place either on the Xnet (internet) or on the streets of the city.  The author does not try to hide the type of people who live on the street (drugees, homeless etc…) but rather tells it exactly how the main character would most likely see things had this happened to him in real life. The exact year that the book takes place in is never known, but it is sometime in near future, probably between 2013 and 2025 as technology and laws have changed, however, no new technologies have been invented, simply old ones have been improved.

Plot:  I’ve mentioned the general outline of the plot before in my previous blog posts, howerver, I’ll still give you a brief description of the major events.  Terrorists sucessfully manage to blow up a bridge in San Fransisco, killing thousands of people and Marcus and his friends are taken prisoner by their own government because the DHS believes that they might be terrorrists themselves.  After a few days of interrogation and inhumane treatment, Marcus and his friends, exept for one, are deemed innocent and are released. Upset at the DHS for abusing his rights and motivated by their imprisonment of his friend, Marcus decides to create something called the Xnet, a secure way of communicating without the government being able to listen in.  He starts a movement  comprised of youth who believe  that the government is tearing up the Bill of Rights and invading everyones privacy in the name of  “national security”. I won’t spoil the ending for you, and I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll stop talking about the plot now.

Conflict: Simply put, the main conflict of this book is between Marcus, and the DHS and their meathods of  “security” that invade peoples privacy, and destroy their freedom, while creating a more and more all controlling government. The type of conflict is a person V.S. society type conflict because Marcus (the person) is challenging the views of the DHS and the public in general (society).

POV: The story is told from the eyes of Marcus.  It is a purely 1st person narrative where the narrator is telling his story and every so often throughout the book he stops and explains concepts to the reader. The book is laden with his thoughts and opinions and is very one sided.


Now that I’ve given you a brief overview of each of the book’s elements, I’m going to try and decide whe the author made those elements what they were and how making the elements what they are affect the book.

Character: I think that the author chose to make the main character of this book a young high-school student because the minds of the young are still very impressionable and are also very idealistic. They still believe that they can do anything if they try and they also have a very clear and pure image of the way that the government should opperate. If the main character were a 45 year old adult, s/he would more than likely be convinced that the DHS was actually making them safer.  Also, not very many adults start revolutions or are technically savvy enough to use something like the Xnet, this makes a youth the perfect main character for this story.

Setting: For logistical reasons, the story had to take place in a big city. Terrorists are not going to blow up a barn in the middle of nebraska, and the DHS is not going to track the movements of everyone using data mining (using a computer to pick out suspicious behaviour) for a city of 50 people. Also, the technologies used in the book are currently not yet available, although we are close inventing them.

Plot: Quite ouviously, the plot of the book more or less determines the entire theme of the book. The theme of this book is “Liberty must prevail in all circumstances or human rights will fail”. Of course, there are other plot lines that could portray a similar theme, however, having the American government overreact to a terrorist bombing is a very powerful way of getting the message accross not only because  it shows what could happen if we get an all controlling government, but also because it is a situation  that would very likely happen if America got attacked by terrorists(again).

Conflict: Most “great books” or novel study worthy books have a person V.S. society type conflict because they challenge the norm of the day.  Little Brother is no different with the exception that it involves modern issues.  Today, we as a society are convinced that airport metal decectors, CCTV cameras and agencies like the NSA are keeping us safe from people who would like nothing better then to blow up a plane full of people.  Little Brother challenges this view and shows us how these things are robbing us of our freedom.

POV: The point of view in this book is a HUGE factor in the book’s theme. You could probably tell the book with the exact same events from the point of view of someone working in the DHS and have the theme completely different.  I think the author decided to use a first person narrative because it adds a lot of opinion and emotion to the story.

Well, there is my analysis of the literary elements of Little Brother, I hope this post didn’t bore you too much.

There we go, 4 blog posts done, 2 left.

2 Responses

  1. You do a really good job of analyzing the story here. I like the way you’ve broken up into sections, addressing each on seperately.

    However, I would like to address the sentance “I will be talking about the character, setting, plot, conflict and POV in little brother, all of that fun stuff that everyone has been discussing since grade 3.” I challenge you to write about something you haven’t been discussing since grade three. Maybe write about your own views and opinions about security. Compare 9/11 to Little Brother. Has our freedom to privacy already been breached? (For instance, there are those new body scanners at airports that can see through clothes.)

    Also, do you think liberty must prevail in ALL circumstances? Can’t too much liberty interfere with the very human rights you are saying must be protected? The Universal Decalaration of Human rights states in Article Four that we have right to life, liberty, and security of person. I think that there needs to be a balance between giving freedom to people and ensuring the emotional and physical safety of a population.

    Anyway, just some ideas. Keep up the great work! :)



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