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Only Ten

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The story ‘Only Ten’ by Allan Baillie shows many themes, which include Racism, Multiculturalism, Loss of Individually and War. One of these issues that stand out is the loss of his individuality. 

The ‘Shah’ was forced into a war, forced to fight, and forced to raise himself. He suffered posttraumatic stress syndrome. Post traumatic stress disorder is when something that happens in your life impacts you badly to the point where you can’t eat, sleep, talk or socialize anymore, it affects all aspects of your life, whether they be physical, emotional, mental or social. In some cases, many people can’t even go outside. In Hussein’s case, he was scared of the windows, and he claimed that 'they' could see in. Who were ‘they’? This makes you wonder, what happened to Hussein? This evidence shows his mysterious character. He is quiet and he keeps to himself, and even the little things fascinate him. The students in the story even say he is “a bit dark, sounded funny and looked at us as he was going to have us beheaded.” And “He was being as secretive as a pet rock.” Because of his mysterious and odd personality, he even comes off as vein. This character makes the story interesting and keep you turning the pages. Hussein, also called Huss or horse, was very quiet. He didn’t really have many friends, from the outside, he seemed quite boring and weak, but shows his strength when Bruce tries to hurt him with a ruler. Even though it sounds stupid, everyone flinches when they might get hit by something, but Huss didn’t even move a muscle, for someone who seems so weak, is really so strong? This makes you ask yourself that question, what happened to him? 

The idea of Hussein losing his individuality is shown in the setting of the story. Many kids go outside to play, to have fun, even to exercise. He goes outside because he has to. Whether it was in Australia, or his war torn country, he was forced to go outside. All he did was sit alone, eat, and watch all the kids having fun without him. He is very conscious of his surroundings; he is always looking up at the sky, or investigating things. When Suzy and Pearl go to the library, they see Huss stroking a mandarin tree, as if it was a baby. This proves that in his home country, he didn’t have much vegetation, furthering the theory that he came from a war zone. Further evidence of this is that when they go swimming. Mr. Henney raised the starting pistol and “The Shah made a funny little sound, like a strangled cat, and shriveled in his chair” Indicates that he was scared of the gunshots, and how the sound of them bring back bad memories, and makes him go into stress mode, because of his PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder)

The story shows many key ideas that represent the loss of his individuality.

  • He looks at the class like he’s going to have them beheaded
  • He doesn’t like windows, because ‘they’ can see in
  • When Bruce attacks the Shah with a ruler, he doesn’t move, and then claims that he is a soldier.
  • Huss strokes the mandarin tree, like he has never seen one before
  • At the swimming practice, he gets scared of the starting pistol
  • He wouldn’t take of his shirt for swimming
  • He confronts Pearl when Suzy dies
  • He finally takes off his shirt in swimming, and reveals his scars

All of these key ideas demonstrate that he was in the war, which made him lose his individuality, these ideas further answer, the question, ‘What happened to Hussein?’ He was a soldier in the war, and he was Only 10.

By Aimee McCagh – Watson

Year 9 English




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