noughts and crosses

noughts and crosses is a book written by Malorie Blackman. It is about a friendship between Sephy hadley, a cross and daughter of important cross, and Callum McGregor, a nought. This novel describes an alternative histoiry where humans evolved while Pangae was still intact. Without the barriers to exchange of domesticable animals, among other factors, the African people gained technological and organized advantage and organizational advantage over the Europeans rather than the other way around, and made Europeans their slaves. At the time of the story, slavery has been abolished, but Jim-Crow type segregation operates to keep the Crosses (the Africans) in control of the noughts (Europeans). Also, the close proximity of the various nations of the world in a single supercontinent and the lack of natural defences have forced the nations of the world to learn to cooperate. An organization called the Pangaean Economic Community exists, and seems to be similar to the United Nations in scope but similar to the European Union in powers, and it is playing a role in forcing change. Sephy Hadley is a Cross (meaning that she has dark skin) and the daughter of a wealthy politician named Kamal. Callum McGregor is a nought (meaning that he has light skin). They used to play together when Jasmine Hadley (Sephy’s mother) employed Meggie McGregor (Callum’s mother) as a Nanny. However, Jasmine fired her when Meggie could not provide an alibi for Jasmine when her husband confronted her about his suspicions of her infidelity (this is only revealed later in the novel, though it is strongly implied).

Since then, Sephy and Callum’s friendship has been secret. As best friends, their relationship is frowned upon by society, in the same way that interracial friendships in the Southern United States were thought of before 1960, but in reverse. Callum is one of the first noughts to start at Heathcroft High, a school for mainly Crosses and only the highest performing Noughts. Sephy is overjoyed to find Callum has joined her class. But the majority of her classmates will not accept that she wants to associate with a nought. Their friendship goes from strength to strength as Callum’s brother and father join the Liberation Militia (LM), a violent terrorist organisation supposedly aimed at promoting equality between the two races, and Sephy’s mother becomes an alcoholic. They develop a more intimate connection. Callum’s troubled elder sister, Lynette, commits suicide by throwing herself in front of a bus. Only Callum knows it was suicide (she left him a secret note); the rest of the family take it as a tragic accident. Later, Callum’s elder brother, Jude, and father, Ryan, are accused of a lethal shopping centre bombing committed by the Liberation Militia; Callum is expelled from school and Ryan faces the gallows. Jasmine, remembering that she used to be friends with the McGregor family, secretly hires a prominent lawyer to defend Ryan and he escapes hanging.

However, he must serve a lifetime in jail and is killed by an electric fence while trying to escape the prison. Sephy decides she wants a new start and pleads her mother let her attend the boarding school Chivers. After a lot of hesitation, she gives her permission. She has not heard from Callum for a week, so she writes him a letter asking him to run away with her and telling him that she will be leaving for Chivers boarding school if he doesn’t contact her. However, Callum has decided to join the Liberation Militia, against the wishes of his mother, and does not read the letter until just before Sephy leaves. Callum sprints to Sephy’s house and tries to catch up with the car as it pulls out of the driveway, but fails. Having not seen Callum running behind, Sephy concludes that their friendship is no longer as important to him as she thought it was. Later, they both speculate in misery about what might have been if she had seen him. Years later, Sephy returns home from Chivers. She enters the house and discovers that Callum had left her a letter, telling her to meet him at the family’s private beach. Sephy decides to meet up with him, but later she finds out that Callum is there with others from the LM to kidnap her and hold her hostage.

Callum’s older brother, Jude, punches Sephy in the stomach, and they take her to their hideout. The members of the LM deliver a message to Kamal Hadley telling him to release at least five Liberation Militia members from prison and pay a sum of money if he wants to see Sephy alive. The LM General’s second in command, Andrew Dorn, visits Callum and his cell members, but little do they know that he secretly works for Kamal Hadley. He informs Kamal of the whereabouts of two of the LM team members while they are making phone calls. One is killed and the other put in jail.

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