In this journey, Samuel experienced a series of unfortunate events from witnessing the death of his parents to being trapped in a heartless forest in Norway. Of course we know the protagonists of modern children’s literature are almost always granted happy endings, so the question is…What extraordinary events will fall upon Samuel, and how will he escape the forbidden forest?
A Few Metaphorical Messages
Death is a running motif that strings the plot together, and based on the author’s previous book titled The Dead Fathers Club, Matt Haig is all too familiar with this heavy subject matter. Haig acknowledges how death robs you of your present. With no warning, with no guarantee, with no sympathy, death rips apart your current reality and rebuilds another one, and you are expected to sit there and accept it. If that is not enough, the aftermath of this horrific experience can make you feel disconnect with the world around you, which inevitably causes many to challenge the meaning of life, if any, in a state of grief. Samuel and his sister Martha experience these symptoms. Samuel becomes extremely negative, seeing everything and everyone as pointless, and Martha becomes mute. Based on the siblings current state; Samuel and Martha have a few choices to make. They can remain how they are, they can try to find happiness, or they can let the trauma overrule their life. The latter is exactly what happened to Professor Horatio.
The Most Devastating Outcome of Death
Haig made sure that Samuel and Horatio’s back stories were parallel to each other because Horatio’s current state could have been Samuel’s future if he did not make the best choices.
In Horatio history, his father passed away at an early age which caused him and his mother to move to Norway to escape their own pain and emotional backlash. While in Norway, the forest creatures of course lurked around and their spotting caused Horatio and his mother to become outcasts. (No one believed their claims.) Horatio’s mother then grew ill and died, and Horatio was passed along to his relatives who dismissed his presence. Horatio then became obsessed with the mythical creatures of the forest as loneliness and depression become a heavy weight on his mind. In the end, Horatio’s unfortunate past led him to be consumed by his own emotions, and as result, he become the perfect ruthless antagonist of the book. Horatio represents how good people can easily become evil if they are not able to conquer loss of loved ones.
Speaking of the horrors of death, this book reflects the perfect perspective on the horrors of eating other living beings.
One of the many outrageous events is Samuel’s transformation in a rabbit by Horatio’s henchman. From here, rabbit Samuel is captured by trolls with the intention of being sliced up for dinner. Stop and think about this for a moment! The reason why it is easy for us to eat other animals in a casual manner is because we lack empathy. We don’t understand how it feels to be hunted, and Haig tries to put you in that mindset as Samuel tries desperately to save his life.
However, the cherry on the top if this experience is when rabbit Samuel learns the name of the very rabbit he ate the night before when he was a human, and immediately felt sick to the very core of his soul. He became sick because he learns that he ate a rabbit’s child; he ate a rabbit’s brother; basically, he ate a piece of himself.
The Bunny Cult?
The other captured rabbits have accepted their fate since their spiritual adviser has convinced to do so. He mentions that the trolls will take the “chosen rabbit” to Thubula’s paradise, which a place where the grass is always green and rabbits gain peace-of-mind. This may be Haig’s direct attack on the politics of religion. Thubula presented as the all-knowing spiritual idol, and paradise is presented as a type of heaven. The rabbit advisor is even able to convince his followers that the rebellious Samuel is resisting his fate, that humans are just confused bunnies. Let’s entertain the idea for a moment.
It’s very true that both humans and rabbits are communal and possess the follow-the-leader type mentality whether it’s a small scale (you do what your parents ask of you) or on a grand scale (you abide by the national government). As the adviser rabbit mentioned, humans are sometimes confused of their purpose in life. And this can be a fact since we pump up our egos with careers, material possessions, and artificial intelligence to compensate for our lack of understanding. However, human are unique in the since that we are design to create, survive, adapt, and re-create. This means, even though we are creatures of habit, we can break that and old habit and recreate a new habit. We can create a reality for ourselves, and erase it, then create another reality. So I guess, humans are special rabbits. But my point is, the rabbit scene in the Samuel Blink story is a direct reflection on communal thinking minds verses individual thinking minds.
There are many opposites in the story starting from opposite personalities between Samuel and Martha to the opposite worlds between the Forbidden Forest and Norway. However, the most obvious (in terms of color) is the relationship between the Snow Witch and the Shadow Witch. Neither Witch is evil. They both co-exist as powerful entities much like the concepts Ying and the Yang. Because the witches are powerful, they are both admired and they are feared. Their contradicting nature creates balance and harmony, and this is the very power that humans possess. Balance is needed for happiness, and going back to Professor Horatio, he only focus on his power with the Shadow Witch, so I’m sure you can guess what fate lies for him.
Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest is written by Matt Haig