Theories of Relativity

Waheed Ahmed The book I have chosen to complete my ISP journal on is Theories of Relativity by Barbara Haworth-Attard. The second half of the book begins with Dylan planning a trip to Murdock to try to move in with his grandparents. However, this plan fails miserably when he discovers that his grandmother has died and his grandfather is soon to follow. His situation only worsens when he returns to Toronto; Dylan is brutally beaten by Brendan’s men for his attempt at running away with Jenna.
To help cope with the pain of broken bones and sore muscles from the beating, Dylan accepts some mysterious pills from Jenna. He soon becomes addicted to them and longs for more. He then realizes that he has been betrayed by Jenna and soon finds himself indebted to Brendan. Due to the severity of these events Dylan begins to reflect on the type of life he is living. He is fed up and realizes he needs to turn his life around. After being denied another loan from Glen, Dylan takes the first step to turning his life around by accepting a job offer as tutor at a computer lab.
The main themes of this book would be family relationships, homelessness, nature versus nurture and always staying true to one’s moral values. Dylan’s character is very similar to another character named Jesse Pinkman from the television series “Breaking Bad”. Jesse is a drug addict and a recent high school dropout. Jesse finds himself living in the streets after his parents refuse to financially support him. Jesse’s parents forbid him from reentering their household because they believe he will act as a negative influence on their seemingly perfect son, Gale.

However, Jesse has a very good relationship with his younger brother. Interestingly, Jesse feels as though Gale is his personal responsibility once he discovers that Gale is experimenting with marijuana and headed towards a bad pathway. The relationship between Jesse and Gale is almost identical to Dylan’s relationship with Micha and Jordan. Jesse feels responsible for Gale because he has experienced that lifestyle and wants to ensure that Gale doesn’t follow in his footsteps.
Both Dylan and Jesse feel that the parents are not doing a suitable job and want to intervene for the betterment of their siblings. Making the connection between these two very similar characters allows one to make a more accurate judgment towards why people act the way they do. This connection helped me see another side of Dylan and understand why he cared so much about the wellbeing of Micha and Jordan. All his efforts were to ensure that they did not end up in his situation.
On that same note, Jesse had made the mistake of experimenting with drugs and didn’t want his brother to make the same mistake. A major difference between both these characters is that Jesse’s parents were very supportive and helpful, whereas Dylan’s were the complete opposite. Ultimately it did not matter how their parents raised them because their environment would mold them into different people. Personally, I can also relate to how Dylan and Jesse felt about not being able to help their siblings.
In my case, my cousin’s parents were not very strict on practicing Islam, the religion that we both shared. I felt as though it was my duty to educate my cousin about the basic principles of Islam because I felt he was deprived of something truly valuable. He was labeled a “Muslim” but did not have the basic understanding of what it meant to be one. However my efforts rendered useless as my aunt did not appreciate me teaching her son about Islam because she was Christian and her husband did not have a say in the matter.
It was not my obligated duty to help my cousin; nevertheless I only took the responsibility because I felt his parents were not doing a suitable job of educating their son about either religion. I felt like the parents were just an obstacle between me helping someone. Ultimately, the parents had more authority than me so I was to do what they asked. This experience helped me understand the mindset of both Dylan and Jesse. No matter how much Dylan detested drug abuse, ultimately it was not in his control. He became addicted to drugs due to the environmental circumstances.
This is the subject of nature versus nurture that Theories of Relativity is structured around. The author shows the reader how an environment such as Dylan’s can change any person regardless of race, gender and certainly not age. The author demonstrates just how vulnerable the human mind is to assimilation. The messages the author conveys can also apply to the real world situation of homelessness. Society doesn’t realize the harsh realities of living on streets and our views are solely based on what we see visually and what the media feeds us. Over 7 000 people are homeless in Toronto as of 2012.
After doing some research, I was astonished by how accurately the author has depicted the issues discussed in the book. Issues like prostitution, drug abuse and homelessness are very prominent in my own city! The author also raises many important questions in the book. For example, can an immoral deed like stealing be justified if it is committed when one is severely desperate? Normally I would automatically disagree because taking someone else’s belongs is extremely wrong. However, in Dylan’s situation he only stole exactly what he needed to survive, basic necessities.
He would steal when he was desperate and there was no other option. In my eyes, if you are young and healthy, like Dylan then you have the ability to work and support yourself. Based on the book, I believe Dylan did not persevere as he stopped trying after his first job interview failed. If Dylan kept trying he could have been hired and in doing so he could have avoided many problems. On the other hand Dylan had the option of many other illegal and immoral sources of income like selling drugs but he stood true to his morals and declined those offers.
In relation to the real world I think that the government should create more programs aimed to help under-aged homeless people. These programs should be more inviting to the homeless and serve as a viable escape route from the street life. It is ridiculous that in a developed country like Canada over 300 000 people are homeless! (Bri Trypuc “Homeless in Canada”) I think after reading this book, we as a society should come together in collaboration and help these homeless people get off the streets and become contributing members of society.

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