These are some of the themes found in the novel:
The message of love is reiterated throughout the story.
• Both Saleh Abdullah and his wife love Madhuri dearly like their own biological child.
• Azreen’s inner conflict to garner her father’s love and affection. She always perceives the father as having greater love towards her sister, Madhuri.
• Mohd. Asraf and Madhuri secretly loves each other that eventually led to Madhuri’s death.
• Azreen had a crush on Mohd. Asraf during school days.
Before the Old Lady draws her last breath, she advises Azreen to forgive others. When Azreen discovers that it was her father who murdered Madhuri, she felt no anger or resentment towards him.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
The story portrays how some men believe women to be the weaker sex and they are violent towards them. For instance, the Old Lady’s husband was abusive towards her and repetitively abused her. He hit and kicked her.
Through the novel, gender stereotyping is portrayed through how females should behave. This can be seen especially through Azreen. For example, Azreen’s school friends start to cast suspicious eyes towards her when she behaves unlady-like. She plays hockey with the boys and even “laughs like a bunch of hyenas” with them. To them, as a woman, Azreen is not expected to be tomboyish and hangs too closely with boys.
BELIEF IN THE SUPERNATURAL
The villagers seem to believe in supernatural. For example, many villagers call upon Awang, the village shaman to avert disasters. In another instance, Puan Normala tries to convince the villagers that the village is cursed since Madhuri’s blood is white.
FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
The villagers are puzzled about how Madhuri died. However, no one actually investigates the incident which is covered up well by Haji Ghani and his followers. In another instance, the villagers assume that the Old Lady is an evil witch that can turn anyone into squirrels or rats. Due to this assumption, the villagers outcast the Old Lady.
These are some of the values found in the novel:
Madhuri shields her sister, Azreen, from being punished by her father.
Madhuri helps Azreen to mend their mother’s favourite rattan basket which Azreen broke while collecting durians.
STANDING UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN
Being persistent in getting to the truth is highlighted especially through Azreen. She refuses to believe that Madhuri’s death was merely an accident. She finds clues that complete the puzzle.
Azreen repairs the trampled bed of vegetables and brings back fresh vegetables and seeds to replace the ones destroyed vegetables that belong to the Old Lady.
Azreen diligently repairs the trampled bed of lady’s fingers outside the Old Lady’s house.
When Azreen refuses to eat her dinner after being caned by her father and scolded by her mother, Madhuri consoles and coaxes her to eat.
Mohd. Asraf advises Azreen not to reveal about Madhuri’s death to her sickly mother who assumes that Madhuri is still alive.
When Encik Mohan and his sons harshly reprimand Mohd. Asraf for carelessly letting their bull escape, Azreen braves herself to come to Mohd. Asraf’s defence. She tells them not to blame Mohd. Asraf without any evidence.
Shows her loyalty to her friend Mohd. Asraf by taking the blame calmly and bravely for the accident that involves her dad and mum.
Madhuri and Azreen continue working on the rattan basket in their bedroom. Even when their parents return home, they excuse themselves quietly and forgo dinner to weave a new basket to match the original in their dimly lit room.
Mak Cik Sharifah and her husband, Azreen’s foster parents, leave behind two throw pillows from their car for Azreen to sleep on in her mother’s house. They are also thoughtful enough to leave her two bottles of water, some fruits and a bag of disposable toiletries.
Siti obliges to help Mohd. Asraf take care of his sick mother while Mohd. Asraf goes out to get some traditional medicine. Siti keeps an eye on the sick woman whom she is quite fond of.