The Damage Done: expository test for english essay. Essay A grade examples

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on 08/11/2018 at in  English

Question 2

Evaluate how non-fiction texts tend to highlight the values and attitudes of the author over others.


Mum: he felt sorry for her, but he didn’t think of her before then

‘I became very heavy with the thought that I had made my poor mother a prisoner too’ 


Money: he felt guilty, because he had been blinded

 “I was dazzled. The money seemed so good that I can honestly say the consequences didn’t occur to me at all.”


Freedom: “I now know that there is nothing more precious than a free life. No amount of money is worth the risk I took. No amount in the world.”

 (This one got a higher grade than the next one)

The Damage Done (1997) is an expository novel by Warren Fellows about his experiences in two Thai jails: Bang Kwang and Maha Chai after being convicted of trafficking heroin from Australia into Thailand. As a non-fiction text, it allows Fellows’ to focus on his values and attitudes and employs them in achieving his purpose of generating sympathy for him. However, while his values do align readers with his opinions, the strength of his values is undermined by his naivety and selfishness. Highlighted by Fellows are his values of family, wealth and freedom although as a non-fiction text, his selfish and naïve attitudes serve to weaken the sympathy felt for him by his audience.


For the majority of the early part of his novel, Fellows displays self-pity and utilises the brutality of his immediate situation to evoke sympathy from his readers. Such as when he describes the events of a riot in the prison and a guard ‘without hesitation brought the butt of his M16 onto the prisoner…his head split like a watermelon’. Confronted by its blunt tone and lack of personification of the prisoner, this statement serves to eradicate any justification of the prisoner’s punishment and replace it with vengeance for the guards sympathy and consideration for Fellows. His detailed descriptions of each horror he encounters is affective, however as the story develops, an audience that values family begins to question whether he has felt any outer remorse for his family and friends or compassion for their heartache in his absence. Only late in the novel does he ‘suddenly become heavy with the thought that I had made my poor mother a prisoner too’. The ‘suddenness’ of this realisation and the notion that thoughts of the loss of his mother never had any weight in his mind beforehand. In conjunction with the basic description of his mother as ‘poor’ reinforces the lack of depth in his compassion and selfish attitude. Furthermore, by adding that she was a ‘prisoner too’ conveys that he remains pitiful of himself and never truly devoted any pure guilt for his family. Apparently oblivious up until this point of the repercussions of his crime on someone but himself and others within the walls of the prison, the reader becomes concerned. Previously invested in Fellows’ compassion, they now imagine how they would feel for their family when in his position and views his value of family with theirs as comparatively weak. The non-fiction style of text of The Damage Done permits readers to assume a certain of reality in what Fellows describes. Therefore, they can make their own judgements on the appropriateness of his behaviour in each situation compared with what they would have done. Through his shallow value of family and selfish attitude he illustrates himself as someone unable to see though any perspective apart from his own.


In the beginning of the novel, before being imprisoned, Fellows’ value of wealth shielded him from the reality that he could be sentenced to death. The prospect of becoming wealthy just from going on a flight from Perth to Thailand had young Fellows blinded and manipulated into ignoring the risks. Readers, especially those who are young or with young children are discouraged from ever following in Fellows’ footsteps. Claiming: ‘I was dazzled.’, conjures images of dazzling diamonds or a glittering and overpowering façade to something less appealing. Likened to a moth in light or a dazed animal in headlights, Fellows is blinded by greed and naïve to the true nature of being a drug mule. The strength of his value of wealth means ‘the consequences didn’t occur to me at all.” His naïve attitude, known to be his demise later, successfully convinces his target audience to not to let the profit mask their consideration of the ‘consequences’. On the other hand, their sympathy of Fellows relies on the displacement of the blame onto those who didn’t educate him about foreign incarceration, rather than his lack of initiative and ignorance. While the purpose of his deeply seeded value of wealth and naïve attitude is to engender more sympathy for him, in reality it demotes his intelligence and causes readers to speculate that he may have deserved to serve time in order to learn his lesson, if only to educate others. Readers are enabled to draw such conclusions because of the knowledge that The Damage Done is a non-fiction text and the content of which is factual.


3rd paragraph about freedom: “I now know that there is nothing more precious than a free life. No amount of money is worth the risk I took. No amount in the world.” (lack of value of freedom paired with a naïve attitude)


Although Fellows intends on utilising his values in the face of the brutality as means to generate sympathy for him, his lack of values and naïve and selfish attitude actually leads readers in the other direction. It could be suggested that without having experienced the trauma of Bang Kwang and Maha Chai, he may have remained naïve of the consequences of crime and selfish of his family forever. While the novel does not gain Fellows a sympathetic audience, it does successfully warn young people and parents of the potential dangers of drug trafficking and proves naivety to be fatal. In each situation described by Fellows his audience, with the knowledge that the novel is non-fiction, can interpret for themselves whether he behaved appropriately according to their values and how they would have behaved. Had the text been of another form, readers would not have the same degree of trust that Fellows truly possessed the values and attitudes he claimed he had. Similarly, if the novel was not non-fiction his audience may not have believed that he was truly as naïve and selfish as is conveyed. The Damage Done, as a non-fiction text, allows Fellows to express his values and attitudes to his audience and also allows them to compare and critique them alongside their own in a realistic light.


The Damage Done (1997), is an expository novel written through the perspective of Warren Fellows. Convicted of drug trafficking he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in the notorious Maha Chai and Bang Kwang prisons, after being caught smuggling heroin from Perth to Thailand. Through his perspective as a prisoner, he exposes his and other prisoners’ inhumane treatment at the hands of corrupt guards and policemen who violated the most basic of modern human rights. However, the contrasting perspective of the guards in the prison poses questions to readers about the biases of Fellows’ perspective in his attempts to provide detailed descriptions of each event, all the while concealing the reality that he is a criminal and not innocent. Through the use of tone, voice and representation Fellows’ and the guard’s perspectives expose the horrors of his time incarcerated in Thailand in order to confront the issue of corruption within the Thai justice system. By confronting the issue of corruption, readers begin to question the justice system and analyse its honesty in ensuring the human rights of prisoners are upheld.


Fellows’ use of tone is instrumental in establishing imagery for readers and constructing- as vividly as possible- the atmosphere of the jail. As the story develops, Fellows’ becomes increasingly blunt and bland. This is evident when he reasons, ‘the relentless death threats had become strangely dull’. Fellows’ distant tone of voice makes it seem like the threats don’t affect him, like he’s been so far separated from the normality of the world. The fact that he describes it as ‘strange’ alludes that he knows that being threatened in such a way is not normal or accepted in western society. However, the relentless nature of them has caused him to accept his treatment as the norm. He has passed the stage of fear of imminent death to a point where it is like he is dead. Like nothing could ever be worse than it is. Unaffected by the movements of the outside world and having nothing left to lose. For the reader, even one death threat would trigger anxiety and extreme stress, becoming remotely accustomed to such helplessness and disregard for the preservation and sanctity of life is unimaginable. Therefore, they mourn the figurative death of Fellows’ place in functioning society and recognition of the dignity of his life as a human being.



Furthermore, an event told in Fellows’ perspective that truly disregards human rights is when a prisoner went to a prison doctor ‘begging for something to ease the pain…or he would commit suicide’. The combination of images of a beggar and a prisoner is foreign to readers who, in western society, see prisoners as people in need of a change of mindset and rehabilitation back into society. A beggar conjures images of someone weak, poor, oppressed, and fighting for survival against unforgiving people who pass them by in the street and ignore their plight. When a prisoner is described as begging, it means for the reader that their situation is threatening their quality of life and they are being denied access to one of the key needs of a person’s survival. Prisoners are not supposed to beg. In Western jails, they are provided with the necessary resources to allow them access back into society and good mental health is encouraged. However, as described by Fellows’ western point of view, this prisoner begs for something, anything, reiterating his desperation, to ‘ease the pain’. Not even to rid him of it, just subside it enough for him to bear life until he recovers. If that prisoner was in an Australian jail, the duty of the doctor to preserve the life of the man would be without question. With this in mind the reader affirms that this would be the moral and legal thing to do. However, Fellows goes on in a blunt tone that, ‘he removed a knife and told him to commit suicide in the corridor…he didn’t want a mess in his office’. The offhand tone and voice of extreme oppression as the doctor chooses the easier alternative for himself in the situation. The level of ultimate selfishness and sadistic behaviour displayed by the doctor, through the eyes of Fellows, represents the superiors of the Thai justice system as unprofessional and corrupt as well as blatantly ignorant of modern human rights. The mere description of his death as ‘mess’, like it is an inconvenience for the doctor heightens his selfishness. Taken aback by the obscenity of the event it becomes debateable amongst readers as to the level of pain that prisoners deserve to endure for punishment for their crimes. Through his tone readers join Fellows in witnessing horrors unparalleled in Australian jails and challenge the legality and morality of Thailand’s justice system.


Bang Kwang and possibly more of Thailand’s and other 2nd world prisons are corrupt, despite modern efforts to enforce human rights. The vivid reality hidden by members of the corrupt and sadistic Thai justice system as confronted by Fellows’ tone, voice and representation, sufficiently disturb and distress an audience not exposed to such breaches of human rights. Not only does his novel expose the truth to the general public, but it also confronts the Australian embassy in Thailand and the jail itself. Through the perspective of Fellows, the corruption of the Thai justice system is revealed while the fact that he is a guilty criminal is suppressed and concealed. Fellows’ perspective is biased. The entire novel is in first person and only shows his views. While we can sympathise for other characters we cannot empathise with them because they are only representations. His vivid recollection of events shows the power his memories of his incarceration still has on his life today. Readers, therefore, empathise with him and align their views with his in confronting the issue of corruption in the Thai justice system. While the treatment of the prisoners is without a doubt inhumane, it remains debatable as to the level of punishment that should be inflicted upon them. Should their level of punishment reflect their conviction? Does the eye for an eye principle override human rights? Can their pain be justified? Whatever the moral thing to do, it remains the responsibility of our modern society to uphold basic human rights and to confront judicial systems such as Thailand’s.


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