When people go through a series of misfortunate events, they turn to believe in a universal power or put their faith in God. Having a strong belief in someone or something helps overcome everyday struggles. It makes people mentally stronger to be able to handle hardships. In the memoirs Every Falling Star and How Dare the Sun Rise, both Sungju Lee and Sandra Uwiringiyimana conquer fear and survival through developing hope and courage by turning to their faith while going through hardships.
In both memoirs, the characters open up to God for the first time when they are in the need of survival. In Every Falling Star, Sungju was never exposed to the idea of praying to a higher power. He first sees his mother praying after his father leaves to china, so he asks, ?What does praying mean?’ (Lee 75). This reveals the lack of knowledge Sungju has towards the significance of praying at first. His mother and Sungju are struggling for food and are worried about his dad. His mother replies, “some people talk to a higher power, a universal power, an energy…that higher power listens and answers what we ask of it. We speak to that power in the form of prayers,”(Lee 75). After his father left for China, the only way they believed they could communicate with him was through this universal power. This gave Sungju the urge to learn how to pray, so he can communicate with his dad which built hope in him that his father is safe wherever he is. His desire to have faith in a universal power helps him have hope that he will eventually meet his family again.
This hope allowed him to continue to strive and survive as a kotjebi. In How Dare the Sun Rise, Sandra starts putting faith in God when her family is struggling to survive because of the discrimination towards her tribe. Sandra says, I began to open myself to the idea of God’s help…My faith began to deepen…I put my faith in God,(Uwiringiyimana 94). She opens herself up to God and begins praying. Sandra’s faith helps her throughout her journey by building hope and courage towards many things, such as moving to a different country. Her decision on putting her faith in God lets her build courage. The courage that she gained from her faith helped in many situations including her flashbacks.
Both characters turn to their faith when they are in fear. In Every Falling Star, Sungju states, One morning after I awoke screaming from a nightmare in which I saw a strange white creature, half man, half monster, with fire for wings, I asked my mother to teach me how to pray,(Lee 76). Sungju feared getting these terrible dreams again, so instead, he started praying. Praying to this universal power that he believes in made all his fears disappear and made him gain courage and mental strength. Similarly, in How Dare the Sun Rise, Sandra faces fear during the massacre when she is unable to know whether her family members are alive. Sandra says, I prayed to god. ?If you keep my parents alive, I will be good’ I promised….I kept praying. I begged god to please let us all survive,(Uwiringiyimana 9). Sandra prays to god when she fears that her parents might have been killed during the massacre. She feels lonely and she is traumatized by all the blood. Praying to God during this fearful time helped her gain confidence that she and her family can survive the massacre. It also gave her the courage to keep running and trying to survive the massacre.
For many people, faith isn’t very easy to obtain. In both memoirs, Sungju and Sandra start praying to their God when they are in the need of survival. They also depend on faith to overcome fear. The faith that both the characters gain helps them throughout their journey. Sungju uses his faith as a support when he is a kotjebi and Sandra uses hers when she has a hard time in college. Sungju still has hope today that he will find his family back in North Korea, and Sandra gained the courage to talk about her experiences to inform other people in the world. Faith gives people hope and courage, it gives them the mental strength to handle any situation that arises.
Lee, Sungju and McClelland, Susan. Every Falling Star. New York: Amulet Books, 2016.
Uwiringiyimana, Sandra and Pesta, Abigail. How Dare the Sun Rise. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2017.
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