Threatened

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1 Response

  1. Meena Khorana says:

    Threatened is a gripping adventure story of survival in the wild. The character traits and experiences of the protagonist, Luc, are juxtaposed against those of the chimp family he befriends (Drummer, Beggar, and Mango) to highlight the similarities between the two species. The story is well structured to point out their need for companionship, family relations, and the emotions of fear, anger, aggression, and self-preservation.

    The weakest aspect of the plot is the role of Professor. His dubious credentials as a wildlife expert and the mystery surrounding his personal life are not resolved or explained adequately. He seems to be inserted into the story as a strategy for rescuing Luc from “slavery” in Franceville and relocating him to the remote forests of Gabon. Even his work in observing the chimps does not ring true: he is the expert, yet we learn very little scientifically from him. While Luc acknowledges that Professor has taught him some general facts about chimps, we do not witness the professor engaged in serious research or observation of the chimps. In addition, what is the purpose of making him an Arab who purchases goods and services with counterfeit money? Apart from showing that he is cunning and a cheat, these details seem to discriminate against Arabs and reinforce stereotypes.

    Like a typical adventure story for young people, everything works out well for the protagonist and he lives happily ever after. However, the story does not end with the “rescue” of Luc. When the Western journalist/humanitarian braves the wild to photograph and write a story about Luc, she offers him several temptations to leave Africa for the West — a better life, education, material things, celebrity status, opportunities to help the chimps — but Luc is firm in his resolve to stay with his chimp family and to preserve the purity of their lives. Also, he is proud of his country, Gabon, and of researching the chimps. On the personal level, he feels fulfilled and happy because he finally has a family.

    Threatened certainly engenders respect for the chimps and their strategies for communal organization, but how plausible it is as a story of animal conservation is questionable.

    Rating: 3

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