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the Music of Dolphins Broché – 1996
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In this book, Hesse uses the first person point of view as a tool to show Mila's degree of human socialization. At the beginning of the book, the sentences and chapters are short; there are no paragraphs. These characteristics illustrate Mila's limited ability to vocalize because she has not acquired the language skills necessary to organize her dolphin-like thoughts. As she learns English, Mila uses elementary, disjointed speech. In addition to using simplistic words to convey this message, Hesse uses font size to further illustrate her point. The large font size in the first part of the book symbolizes Mila's degree of socialization. Also in the first few chapters, Mila uses observations with few expressions of feelings. For example, she says, "I like good" (8); "I like Sandy happy" (9); "I like to see the picture of dolphin" (11). These examples also illustrate her rudimentary language skills.
As the book continues, the sentences get longer, and paragraphs begin to form. By Chapter 23, Mila speaks in paragraphs. This shows how much Mila has learned. Also it denotes that she has reached a level that is more socially acceptable. Hesse now decreases the font size to what one would consider average. She also employs more complex expressions of feelings and ideas to indicate Mila's increased knowledge and language. For example, she says, "I love to use my hands. To play games, to make music . . . I like every little thing I am learning with my fingers and my toes" (83).
The turning point of the story is Chapter 29. Until this point, Mila has been content to live in a house with Doctor Beck and the others and learn human things like, playing games, sleeping in a bed, and wearing clothes. In this chapter, Mila decides she no longer wants to be human. She would rather return to the sea and the dolphins. At first, she just tries to be good and follow the rules, hoping that one day they'll let her leave. In Chapter 36, Mila has a talk with Justin in which he tells her that no matter how good she is Dr. Beck will not release her. She realizes then that she doesn't have to let Dr. Beck control her and that she can stand up for herself. After this point, Mila begins her journey back to her former life. Hesse reverses the changes made in font size, sentence length, paragraph length, and word complexity. This reversal symbolizes Mila's reversal to dolphin life.
Hesse uses font size and other structural methods effectively. She has transformed these overlooked aspects of writing into tools that convey her intended message with clarity and skill. I have never read a book with this type of strategy, and I found it to be quite rewarding. It speaks in a way that plain words cannot.
This novel is not about it being a "true" story, which it isn't, but about the development of language and social communication and interaction.
An example case relative to Mila's predicament would be the case of Isabelle, who was discovered when she was 6 years old in a dark room, where her family kept her secluded from the world. She hadn't properly developed speech, nor did she have social experience.
The point is that as the book progresses, the author writes from Mila's perspective as she develops her language skills.
The Music of Dolphins features a teenage girl found off Cuba, in the midst of her only real family, a group of dolphins. Mila, as she is dubbed, speaks no language but the clicks and cries of her cousins, as she calls the animals. This incredible story follows her growth as a human, in her own simple writing, as she learns what she truly is, and what she truly wants to be. As she progresses she discovers more and more about what this life she's been forced into means, and the pain and sadness that come with it. You will truly feel Mila's emotions, and will cry when you realize the decision she makes at the end. Maybe it's the right one, and maybe it's not, but this profound story will make you think about who you are, through the eyes of a girl who is different in ways you can only imagine.