Written by: Hella S. Haasse
Release date: (1948), 2010
Part of: Wish I’d Read That Challenge
It’s a story about a friendship between a Indonesian guy and the son of a Dutch administrator in Dutch East Indies before the Second World War. Gradually the boys grow apart. When the Dutch boy returns to India that Indonesia has become he finds out that their friendship isn’t the same anymore. Oeroeg has chosen for his own people and against the Dutch, including against his friend. He wonders if he forever will be a stranger in the land where he was born.
The narrator of the story is the I-figure. He grows up in Indonesian with his parents, however his parents have more eye to their own lives than for their child. He grows up with Oeroeg, a local boy who lives nearby. He becomes best friends with Oeroeg and they do everything together.
When they are twelve, they go to different schools, they don’t drift apart but as a reader you see that Oeroeg slowly understands that he is different than his friend. When they are older they again go to different schools and aren’t able to spend much time together. Oeroeg becomes friends with Abdullah, a guy who introduces Oeroeg to Nationalism. He starts to believe that the Dutch people should go to their own country and that Indonesian must become an independent country. When the I-figure has to go the Netherlands he’s going for the last time to Oeroeg to say goodbye. They both feel that their friendship has changed and Oeroeg and Abdullah attack the I-figure with words he doesn’t understands.
I understood that Oeroeg wanted his country back, he felt like he was being used by the Dutch people. I also understood that the I-person was being naïve and really wanted that nothing would change, but just couldn’t stop it.
The I- person tells us that he lived their all his live and when he was in the Netherlands it never felt at home. When he comes back to Indonesian he goes to the jungle to try and find Oeroeg. Oeroeg is there, but has changed. He tells him that he shouldn’t be there and just go away.
I felt like crying at that moment, they where friends for so long, but everything had changed. You could feel that he has chosen for his own kind and that it was absolutely understandable. The friendship they once had has vanished and could never be restored again.
The story really told history trough a friendship, unique in it’s kind when it first was published in 1948. I have found some books that she has written that are also translated into English. If you would like to read a book by this author try: In a dark wandering, Threshold of fire and forever a stranger.