So Much to Tell You – John Marsden

So Much to Tell You by John Marsden, explores the struggle that the protagonist, Marina, endures along her journey to mental wholeness. Marina’s soul has been shattered due to a traumatic event, and being witness to a large amount of violence and hatred in her family. So Much To Tell You is rich in techniques that are used effectively to convey the idea of Marina’s struggle, and journey towards mental wholeness. Marina’s difficulty in achieving psychological completion is shown through the major technique, structural contrast.

We follow Marina’s personal journey and her healing throughout the novel, and we watch as she develops from an introverted, mistrustful person into someone who is able to appropriately communicate with other individuals. Marina uses a tone of self-loathing to show us that she views herself as a “nutcase”, psycho” and “the freak of Warrington” who suffers from “anorexia of speech”. Marina is sent to Warrington Boarding School “to learn to speak again, because [her] mother can’t stand [her] silent presence at home”.

At first Marina is isolated and detached from the rest of the school, shown through the retreat imagery of Marina as she “slinks along the walls and corridors”. As the novel progresses, Marina’s entries suggest that she is becoming more in touch with her peers, and “moving round the school more confidently”. Her visit to Mr Lindells house over the weekend is a very significant event in Marina’s transformation. Throughout the weekend she becomes more expressive, expressed through her tone of excitement in the phrase “it was good!

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In the early stages of the novel, the struggle and difficulty of repairing Marina’s psyche due to damage and conflict within her family, and Marina’s journey towards mental health, is conveyed through the composer’s effective manipulation of fragmentation imagery. Perhaps the most prominent examples of fragmentation imagery would be Ann Maltin’s “spangled star doona cover”. Ann tells Marina the “the stars do fit together, but it took [her] years to figure it out”. This is a metaphor for Marina’s damaged psyche, and it foreshadows her psychological wholeness.

Her psyche will fit together again; she just has to give it time to heal. Marina also explains the she likes ‘the word “coalesce”, though when [she] looks at it for a long time it seems strange and ugly”. This is how Marina views herself, a jumble of “strange and ugly” fragments that need to “coalesce” in order to become one healed psyche. She also writes about the way the pool is when there is nobody there “then the first girl jumps or dives in – and it all cracks”. This demonstrates how fragile Marina’s psyche is; it could shatter at any time. Ann Maltin also “had a ceramic piece… on the cupboard beside her bed.

It was a big bird, an eagle”. Whilst “vacuuming the dorm” Marina accidentally knocks the bird of its stand, and it promptly shatters on the floor. Even after Ann has glued it back together, she “can still see the cracks. [She] will always see them. This indicates that Marina will heal, but she will never be exactly the same person as she was before the incident, and she will always be scarred from the traumatic event. John Marsden has greatly emphasised the importance of Marina repairing her damaged psyche through the use of metaphors, foreshadowing, and fragmentation imagery.

Symbolism and figurative devices are also used effectively by John Marsden to evoke the idea of Marina’s need for retreat or refuge from the difficulties of reality, prior to her significant journey to wholeness. For Marina, the chapel at her school symbolises a sanctuary. “Churches [are] safe places, where you [can] hide”, Marina sits by herself in her dark corner and writes in her journal, it is where she can think about her life, and her father. She feels protected in the chapel, and in the school generally too.

This is shown through the use of similes in the phrase “in the hospital [she] felt exposed under the white light, here [she] feels like a black snail”. This contrasts between the white exposure of the hospital, and the black refuge of the school. Similes, retreat imagery, and symbolisation are used dextrously throughout So Much To Tell You to demonstrate Marina’s difficult journey to wholeness. John Marsden dextrously uses effective techniques throughout So Much To Tell You to explore the concept of struggle and wholeness, demonstrated by the protagonist, Marina.

We learn about Marina’s personal struggle to become whole again after the tragic events that have occurred prior to the beginning of the novel. We see this through the contrast of Marina’s character between the beginning of the novel and the end of the novel, the extensive use of fragmentation imagery, and the retreat imagery, that is used to convey Marina’s struggle. We trace her traumatic personal journey, difficulties and mental healing throughout the novel, on an emotional rollercoaster that is Marina’s life.

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