I Am Not Esther Essay

Many of the rules that are enforced by Uncle Caleb in Fleur Beale’s novel “I am not Esther” are ones that many people are subjected to around the globe. Subjects covered in her novel include the rules she must abide by and the severe punishments that are enforced if disobeyed. Kirby's well being and personality begin to slip as she is imprisoned within the cult with no hope of escape, this is all used by Beale to develop the theme of institutionalization.

At the beginning of the novel, Kirby is introduced as a teenage girl who under the circumstances of her unruly mother, has been burdened with the task of caring for herself and her mother. She demonstrates this through her ability to support her mother and do the tasks she should be able to achieve herself. Her mother's stunted maturity is somewhat an issue to Kirby but she also comes across as someone who thrives from the independence she has been bestowed. As she is torn from her comfortable lifestyle and thrown into the cult life of her uncle Caleb, Kirby is not only struggling to accommodate her new found life, but the abandonment of her mother. This new family comes with new rules strictly enforced by not only the family but by the entire community, these are entitled “The Rule”. Kirby at first rebels against these new rules by kicking and making a scene when first arriving at her new residence, this starts to show the underlying theme of institutionalisation. She is unaccustomed to these ways of living and is harshly met with unsympathetic responses from her new carers. The strict rules that Esther is forced to live by while under the care of her uncle Caleb are very similar to those that are applied by cults in New zealand and other countries around the world. Fleur Beale uses the religious setting in her novel “I Am Not Esther” to help develop this idea for readers. She does this to teach readers about what life inside a cult is like.

As Kirby learns quite quickly in her new surroundings is that...