Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I read Papillon last week. I had first heard about it around 3 years ago but never thought of reading it. In past 4 months, I found two of my friends reading this book and both of them talked about how interesting the book was and how they couldn't keep the book down once they started it. This piqued my curiosity and I picked the book last week and finished it in 3 days!! Needless to say, I was in a hurry to finish it once I had started reading it.
So, what is Papillon all about and more over what does Papillon mean?? Well, Papillon (butterfly in French) is the real story of a man (nicknamed Papillon because he had a big butterfly tatoo on his chest) who was wrongfully convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to serve a life sentence.
The book details 13 years of his life from the day he was sentenced in France to the day he was freed in Venezuela. It goes through every little detail of all his escapes and adventures until finally he escapes after 8 unsuccessful attempts and then remains free.
It is a heart-rending tale of an unjustifiably cruel penal system, human courage, endurance, helpfulness, trust, as well as misery, and incredible instances of sadism, curruption and forced insanity.
This book is all about the character of a man; how Papillon refused to be bogged down by his repeated failures to escape, how he refused to give up, how he stood up against the penal system and its perpetrators.
It is also about mankind; it covers wide range of men that exist in society - the wicked lawyer who used his skills to get Papillon the sentence which he did not deserve, the prisoners who helped each other in times of adversity; the lepers, the poorest of the poor and others who helped Papillon when they had nothing to expect in return. Thus, it teaches us not to judge a person by the color of his skin, his nationality, his economic status or his past.
All in all, it is a must read book.