Tomorrow When The War Began Essay Intro

"Tomorrow When The War Began" By John Marsden: Courage As A Central Message In The Text

In the novel 'Tomorrow when the war began', courage is the central message. The WordWeb dictionary defines courage as 'a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger of pain without showing fear'. This is exactly what John Marsden, the author, tried to make clear in the novel. The novel is about 7 teenagers that were forced to live in the bush because of the invaders that took over their country. Each of the characters came to a difficult time in the novel and to overcome that difficulty they needed courage. Two instances of showing courage were when they planned to blow up a bridge and when they had to save a friend by risking their own lives, but the main point is not to give up and have courage in yourself.

One task that the 7 teenagers did that showed great courage, is when they went into the town and all of the enemy soldiers were patrolling the streets. They needed to go into town to save their friend named Lee after he got shot and get him to his parents shop so they could heal him. They had to gather up a great deal of courage to be able to carry out their task because it isn't very easy to risk your life by sneaking into a war zone surrounded by armies of soldiers and taking the chance of getting shot. When the teenagers were planing to take Lee into town, Homer made it clear to everyone that they have to maintain their courage by saying 'we're not going to be safe anywhere, any time, until this war is over'. Therefore by risking 6 lives to save 1 life shows great courage.

One of the toughest and nerve-racking times for the teenagers in the novel was when they were planing to demolish a bridge. The enemy used this bridge quite frequently for importing and exporting goods and troops, which made it an important object for the 7 teenagers to get out of the road and make the enemy suffer for a while. The main objective was to get a petrol tanker, park it under the bridge and light a fuse to blow it up while at the same time trying to stay out of harms way. This was going to be a very difficult task for the teenagers, if not the most difficult throughout the...

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Learning task 2

Examining plot, setting, character and theme

Plot sequence

Photocopy these events resources and cut them up. In groups, refer to your copies of the novel to put the events in the order in which they occur in the novel.

Plot - building tension

Map key events listed on the plot graph resource to show rising tension within the text.

Being succinct about setting

The broader setting for the novel is modern day Australia. This exercise asks you to clarify exactly what you believe is important and to think carefully about how you express your opinions. Talk about these two questions then develop an answer to each of them within a tight word limit of no more than 25 words for each:

  • How would the novel have been different if it was set in a different time?

  • How would the novel have been different if it was set in a different country?

Understanding characters

  1. Use the profile resource to draw up a list of profiles from the story. Look at all of the major characters (Ellie, Fi, Homer, Chris, Corrie, Lee, Kevin, Robyn).
  2. Choose one of the characters you have created a profile for and examine them in greater depth. Look at the way they develop or change over the course of the novel. Choose one of the characters you think is most important in the novel.
  3. For this character:
    • Identify the kind of person they are at the beginning of the novel. Provide a piece of evidence like a quotation from the novel, or an action that the person undertakes.
    • Identify three steps in their development throughout the novel. Think about behaviours they adopt, new ways of thinking or viewing the world, decisions they make, or things they learn. For each step, identify how they change and provide a piece of evidence for this change. How do you know they have changed?
    • Identify what kind of person they are at the end of the novel. Provide a piece of evidence for how they have changed since the beginning of the novel: a quotation or an action that the person undertakes
    • Comment on why you think they changed. This may be a response to a situation or a challenge, or it may have more to do with what kind of person your character is.
    • Choose the event you believe to be the most important in the novel. Explain how your event does the following:

      • helps to develop character
      • teaches the reader or the character(s) something
      • gets the reader thinking about important ideas behind the novel
      • overcomes a problem for the character


A theme is a "big" idea contained in a text. It should be a generalised statement that has no reference to the actual text.
Using the themes resource, find three events from the novel and identify the themes these events make you think about.


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