Postechian’s Pick : What Defines Right and Wrong
Postechian’s Pick : What Defines Right and Wrong
  • reporter Yoon Seok-sang
  • 승인 2019.06.13 13:00
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▲ Noughts & Crosses
▲ Noughts & Crosses


A creative approach to racism and segregation, Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackmanhas has recently been transformed into a play as well. A dystopian novel; a tragedy; or whatever you want to label it, this book stands out as one of the best in its category and is definitely recommended to those who want to read a fresh book that is not too long.

In a society of exchanged roles—where the dark-skinned Cross is the ruling class while the ‘colorless’ nought is the once-slaved underclass, two young people of different classes undergo hardship as the society around them tries to keep them apart.
Sephy is a Cross and the daughter of Kamal Hadley, a wealthy senior politician who later takes office as president. Callum is a nought, whose elder brother Jude and father Ryan later join the terrorist organization Liberation Militia. The two have been friends since early childhood when Callum’s mother worked for the Sephy’s as a nanny. As they grow up and became more aware of the world outside their house, they slowly come to realize that they simply couldn’t be with each other; not only were they from different classes, but they were on extreme ends. A romance builds between Sephy and Callum—a romance that will only lead them deeper into the rabbit hole.

This book takes a creative approach towards racism, prejudice, and politics; the book is filled with metaphors, allusions, and minor details that all come in line with a good plot reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
The first thing to note is in the title: Noughts & Crosses. Noughts and crosses is another word for the game tic-tac-toe, where ‘nought’ represents an ‘O’ while ‘cross’ represents an ‘X’. However, when used alone, the word ‘nought’ means ‘nothing’ while the ‘cross’ represents a widely used symbol of Christianity. This is a clever choice of words, as the title Noughts & Crosses could both mean ‘right & wrong (O & X)’ and ‘nothing of importance’. The two definitions are contradictory; Author Malorie Blackman not only reversed the setting of racism by pointing the arrow towards the whites but also used the terms ‘naughts’ and ‘Crosses’ to illustrate the wrongful and unjustified nature of racism.
Also, take notice of the capitalization of the words ‘nought’ and ‘Cross’ throughout the book. The ‘C’ in ‘Cross’ is capitalized, while the ‘n’ in ‘nought’ is in lowercase. This indeed denotes that the ‘Cross’ is the social upper class and the ‘nought’ is the lower class. This small detail may not seem much, but does greatly contribute to the intensity of segregation that the reader might feel.
Another interesting thing to point out is the Liberation Militia. This is a clear allusion to the Black Panther Party, a political organization founded in 1966 that aimed to challenge police brutality against the African American community through organizing armed citizen patrols. Many similarities can be found between the two groups.

An excellent book that takes the reader for a ride in the rollercoaster of emotion. It does lack real depth; some readers might find the book to be superficial as its main target audience is children and teenagers. Novel-wise, this book is perfect for those who want to read a short story that is both intriguing and fresh.