“The Archipelago” is a short story written by AC Tillyer. It is set around an archipelago, hence the name, of islands. This is a descriptive piece and doesn’t really have a plot, or characters. The different islands are inhabited by a different race of people. Although they all look the same, they are told apart by their distinct dress and dialects. The one similarity between the people is their backward way of building; the people build opposite to the environment. “On rocky hillsides there are wooden huts and in wooded valleys, towns of brick. Arid uplands are irrigated and planted with leafy gardens, whereas, on fertile plains, the parks are paved with stone.” The islanders are peaceful however despite all of their differences. There is an island in the middle of the archipelago which has been deserted for generations and there is no obvious reason why. The story then describes the past in which this island was plentiful inhabited and the centre of trade. The inhabitants of this island decided to build a wall, a giant wall “from faraway the island resembled an enormous wedding cake.” The building of this wall killed the islands prosperity as resources got used up and they had nothing to sell. They had spent so many generations building this wall that they worked themselves all to death and the wall wasn’t completed.
A personal connection I had with this short story was the segregation of the islands. This reminded me of the different friend groups we have in our year group at school. “Although physically they look alike, you can tell them apart by their styles of dress, their distinctive dialects and even their most casual gestures.” We are all humans, but each friend group has their own ways of communicating with each other, their own inside jokes. “Despite their differences, the islanders coexist peacefully.” There are rarely any fights, between friend groups. “Distances between the islands are not great and the sea is calm but people prefer to stick with their own kind.” Most people could change friend groups, and it does happen, but mostly people stick with the group they are with. “For the most part, the only contact between the different races is for trading purposes.” Mostly the only mingling between the groups are when they have to work together in class. When you a paired up away from your friends for class projects.
This text relates to the real world/history in the times of the cold war. “There were no rumours of an attack from overseas, although the people admit that while the wall was under construction, they had grown nervous.” The surrounding islands had not heard of any enemy sufficient enough for anyone to build a wall of such size. The middle island building the wall made them skeptical though as the middle island might have known something they didn’t. This relates to the cold war in the fact that each nation building more bombs made the other feel like they had to build more or they wouldn’t be prepared. “They felt uneasy, as if they too should be taking special precautions but against what, they had no idea.” America and Russia felt uneasy of each other, even though there was no immediate threat they felt like they had to prepare against it. Just as there turned out to be no threat in the story and work on the wall eventually ran out, there was no nuclear war.