Kenneth Oppel Writing Styles in Airborn

This Study Guide consists of approximately 53 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Airborn.
This section contains 1,396 words
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Point of View

"Airborn" by Kenneth Oppel is a fictional tale written entirely in the first person perspective and solely from the perspective of the main character, Mr. Matt Cruse. Matt is a cabin boy with dreams of becoming a pilot of the airship Aurora one day. At fourteen years of age, he considers the helium filled airship to be his home, and in fact is comfortable no where else. It is important that this story is told by Matt as he is central to several issues that play out in the course of the story. To begin with, in the opening chapter Matt is the person who was on duty in the crow's nest and is the first to notice Benjamin Molloy's hot air balloon drifting above them. Matt's familiarity with the ship and the fact that climbing around the rigging comes as second nature to him makes him a perfect candidate to help haul the empty balloon and its incapacitated pilot on board. Benjamin Molloy suffered a heart attack that would prove to be fatal but not before he reveals his amazement and wonder regarding something he saw in the air. His death and the journal he kept would be the catalyst that brings his granddaughter aboard the same airship one year later almost to the day. Matt is instrumental in helping Kate and her chaperone coordinate the last minute mid air transfer to the Aurora, and Kate soon learns that it was Matt who came to her grandfather's aid. She shows him the journal her grandfather kept, and her determination to find the creature her grandfather so carefully documents will be the source of much of Matt's frustration in the coming days. As a result of the Aurora being robbed and damaged by pirates, she crash lands on the very same island Kate's grandfather described. Kate immediately corrals Matt into accompanying her for a walk in the forest so that she can search for evidence of its existence. Matt is reluctant to leave his ship, and his duties, but also taken with the young lady who is so determined. Matt's unerring sense of direction helps Kate find her way, and later helps direct others back to a cave where hydrium is seeping from a natural ground seam. Matt is gently chastised twice for leaving the area immediately around the ship, and ignores Kate's pleas for help after the second time, so she escapes her chaperone to search for the creature herself. Matt is one of two people sent to find her, and his distance from the ship is likely their salvation. Stumbling into the pirate's encampment, they must pretend to be shipwrecked alone on the island, and later must rescue the Aurora and all aboard from pirate invasion and certain death. Matt's knowledge and love of the ship enables him to take it into the air, and play hide and seek with the pirates who are on board until they can be overcome.

Setting

"Airborn" by Kenneth Oppel is set in a time and place that could have been. Most of the story takes place either on board the airship Aurora, or on the island where Benjamin Molloy first sees the Cloud Cats, and where the pirates have created their township. The story begins with the Aurora in flight. The reader is introduced to the main character, Matt Cruse, and his love for the ship and flying is briefly explained. Matt spies a derelict hot air balloon above them, and helps to pull the basket and its near dead pilot aboard. Throughout the story, Matt is referred to as the boy who is lighter than air, and his prowess in the rigging would seem to support his nickname. The rescue is a tricky one that has Matt dangling in space, but he does so without fear - lighter than air. The story jumps forward one year, and Molloy's granddaughter boards as a passenger, arriving so late that she and her chaperone are forced to transfer to the ship in the air. Again, Matt is instrumental. Kate is in search of the wonderful creatures described in her grandfather's journal, and enlists Matt's help repeatedly throughout the story. When an encounter with pirates has them crash landing on an island beach, Kate is amazed to realize it is the island her grandfather wrote about. Several days are spent on the island. Matt and Kate run into the pirates again after they stumble on their landing site while trying to escape an angry Cloud Cat. The pirates are accommodating, feeding and providing shelter until Matt and Kate try to escape and return to the Aurora to warn them. Matt and Kate will be a fearsome opposition to the pirates on board the Aurora, and will help put the ship back into the hands of the captain. When they reach their destination, Lionsgate City, they are able to direct authorities back to the pirate's island, and are rewarded as a result. Both Matt and Kate have aspirations to be going to school, and the reward is enough to ensure that happens. The story ends with Matt in the Academy in Paris, and Kate touring with the Cloud Cat skeleton, and harboring intentions to also attend University in Paris.

Language and Meaning

Written in primarily regular English language, "Airborn" by Kenneth Oppel also contains a language all its own. This fantasy takes place in what could be current day, but the author envisions a much different Earth in some ways. As such, he brings new language and equipment to the story. For example, instead of airplanes for transportation as is the case in our lives now, "Airborn" contains a world in which the airliner was never invented. Instead, air transportation is done by airships kept aloft with a gas called 'hydrium'. When landing, the airships require a ground crew of up to two hundred people to fasten the mooring lines. The Earth is much the same, excepting that in this world not all of the oceans or their islands have been explored or documented. The airship Aurora leaves Lionsgate City, and is bound for Australia. With provisions, cargo and passengers, the Aurora weighs in at over two million pounds, carrying hundreds of pounds of water to act as a ballast. Another machine in Airborn is called an Ornithopter which is a variation of a helicopter that relies on flapping, feathered wings for lift, and are nicknamed mosquitoes for the noise they make. On their voyage, after being attacked by air pirates, they find themselves temporarily stranded on an island where they discover the creatures they name 'Cloud Cats' because of their ability to fly and their facial resemblance to a large cat. The story is supported by the usual laws of gravity, nature and aeronautics.

Structure

"Airborn" by Kenneth Oppel is between 269 and 432 pages in length depending on the version that is being read. It is divided into three sections. The first section contains only one chapter which is not labeled separately, although the second and third sections are. In the electronic version, the first chapter/section is twenty pages in length. This section introduces the main character, Matt Cruse, and gives the reader some insight as to who he is. While on watch in the crow's nest of the airship Aurora, Matt sees a derelict hot air balloon, its pilot incapacitated, and is instrumental in the rescue effort that follows. This segment sets up the story line for the segments that follow.

The second segment in the electronic version goes from pages 21 through to and including page 248 and contains chapters 2 through 20. Titled 'One Year Later', the story follows Kate de Vries as she retraces her grandfather's trip (the hot air balloon pilot) in an effort to find the creatures he documents in his journal before his death. This section details how the Aurora comes to crash land on the very island Kate is seeking, and reveals the truth behind the elusive air pirates that plague the area and the creature they dub a Cloud Cat that stops there during its migration.

The third segment, titled 'Six Months Later' contains only one chapter as well. Titled 'At Anchor', the final and 21st chapter is 8 pages in length and reveals how the events affected the main character and Kate and a peek into what their future might hold.

This section contains 1,396 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
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