Walk in My Shoes - the Outsider

There are many ways in which the text portrays the theme of ‘the outsider’.

Initially, the novel demonstrates that Gulnessa’s family live as outsiders in their war-torn country, Afghanistan. The people do not have a great deal of choice when deciding how they want to exist. Therefore, the only choice is whether to stay where they are and accept a short, violent life, or to risk escaping to find a safe place to build another life. Most people stay behind however, Gulnessa and her family along with a small number of other families had the opportunity to escape consequently making them the minority and therefore outsiders in their own country.

“People’s only real choice is to stay where they are, or risk escaping...”

“Mum accepted what our family in Afghanistan did for us. They told us it would make their lives worthwhile to know that they could make a difference, to know that we would be safe.”

In the novel, Gulnessa also draws attention to the fact that the group of refugees are confined in a large, fenced off area which in itself establishes that the refugees have been purposely separated from the Australian society therefore making them an isolated community. This is apparent in the early chapters of the novel when Gulnessa expresses her observation of the new surroundings she and the rest of the group were about to enter:

“Alongside the bus a high wire fence with jostling crowds of people behind it blocked out everything else. The people looked like us....I saw small blades glinting along the coiled strands.”

Another point that can be made to confirm that the group were foreigners is that they were treated as a collective group confined to the detention centre rather than individuals. This contrasts the way of life in Australian society as everyone is dealt with as an individual and identified by their Christian name. However in the detention centre they were all given identification codes which provided a code name for the boat they came on....