In 2003, an inaugural flight took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, bound for Los Angeles. On board was a group of passengers who had nothing in common except that they were on a doomed flight. Few survived the crash on a remote island, but those who did would face the greatest challenge of their lives. His Father’s Eyes, His Mother’s Manners by Kenneth Stokes explores the nature of survival and the theme of inheritance in this literary work.
The details of the crash and the reasons for it are never revealed to the reader, because they aren’t important to the story. Why the downing of the flight isn’t immediately detected by search and rescue teams, and why, after days, no help has arrived, are inconsequential questions. Rather, the author uses the crash to examine in depth the aspects of each character’s personality characteristics along with revealing past events and experiences. Stokes explores the impact they have on the ability of each character to survive when faced with catastrophic events.
In the face of such extreme adversity, each character’s personality, their reactions to the situation in which they find themselves, affects the safety and survival of the entire group. Skills that are revered by a modern society are useless in this situation. People who have been led to believe that they are successful and deserving of the accolades they have earned in a more material, commercial society are now virtually helpless.
Stokes has chosen as his main character Glen Reyes, a man who travels the world in search of rare plants and understands how to survive without the trappings and conveniences of modern society. Reyes is a teacher and a seer, capable of leading others. His constant companion is a small boy who has lost both parents—his father prior to the crash, and his mother as a victim of the crash itself.
The boy sat next to Reyes during the flight, and from the beginning, he was thrilled to find in Reyes a man patient enough to answer the boy’s questions and to tell him stories from his family’s history. Once orphaned by the crash, he quickly comes to trust Reyes and then entreats Reyes to adopt him once they are rescued.
Through Reyes’ work to create shelter and sustenance, and to teach the other stranded victims survival skills, he helps them face their own weaknesses and turn them into strengths. As time passes and no one comes to rescue them, those who haven’t learned to assimilate and work together become more at risk, as well as more of a risk to the others.
The author presents a unique perspective on what might have been a more typical disaster story, weaving together truths taught from the harsh conditions the characters face, and from lessons learned from Reyes’ re-telling of ancient myths and historical events. Through his diverse cast of characters, Stokes reveals truths certain to resonate with his readers in “His Father’s Eyes, His Mother’s Manners.”