59 pages 1 hour read

Christina Soontornvat

A Wish in the Dark

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2020

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Character Analysis


Pong is the novel’s primary third-person protagonist. His character is inspired by the protagonist of Les Misérables, Jean Valjean. Like Pong, Valjean was unjustly imprisoned and spends his life as a fugitive, grappling with the concepts of redemption and goodness. When the novel begins, Pong is a nine-year old resident of Namwon Prison; his mother, an inmate, died in childbirth, and the law dictates that he must remain confined at Namwon until the age of 13. After escaping the prison at age 9, he joins a temple of monks and learns about forgiveness and compassion. As he runs from Nok throughout the novel, Pong learns to release his perception of his own unworthiness and embrace the theme of Redemption and the Light Within.

Pong is sharply observant and feels injustices around him keenly; they give him “a burning feeling inside” (8). Both qualities help him accomplish his goals and resolve the narrative’s core conflicts. His observational skills are revealed in Chapter 1 when they allow him to obtain the ripest mangoes in Namwon’s courtyard by predicting the precise moment when the fruit will fall from the tree. Later in the novel, Pong uses his skills to serve the revolution by identifying the faded light orbs to be turned into gold orbs.