In his book Continental drift, Russell Bank reveals some very important facts that have developed and caused very major differences between distinct parts and societies in the world.

He narrates the life encounters that two main characters underwent in their quest to escape their poor conditions that they viewed as having originated from their locality and their overall society. Hence, they chose to migrate to a different continent that was more developed and economically stable and which they thought was a land of opportunities (Banks, 1994). The two characters undergo different experiences and to their disappointment they never realize their life dreams. In the contrast, they encounter very hard and humiliating experiences that are a result of their disadvantaged condition especially financially, in skills and even in the lines of race and language, causing them to lack proper employment and to be subjected to such unfortunate circumstances as poor livelihood, inequality, injustice and economic imbalance. At the end of the day, the two characters end up in more trouble than what they had previously escaped and even Bob loses his life, leaving his family with only an option of going back home a very helpless and poor family (Banks, 1994).

In this book, Banks (1994) illustrates different social factors that have developed as a result of the drifts and separations in races and societies. He compares such differences to the physical drifts between continents, as illustrated by the theory of the drift of the continents, where different continents gained distinct features resulting to even more differences in facts such as the climate and natural resources. In the same way, the differences in locality, cultures and even development factors have resulted to creation of distinct features between societies resulting to the many characteristics of those societies. This is even more elaborate in the economic activities and factors of the societies. This is clearly shown in the narrations made by Banks in the novel (Banks, 1994).

Economic Imbalance

There were very distinct differences in economic factors between New Hampshire and Florida.

First, New Hampshire was still at its development stage and hence was a developing country. However, Florida was one of the main stopping points in the USA, a developed country, and was marked by a high level of economic stability, high living standards, great economic and business opportunities and even high literacy levels that caused the society to have a lot of experiences associated to the modern world (Banks, 1994). After Bob moved from his country to the state of Florida, he was expecting to have a grip in all the opportunities and advantageous experiences in that state. However, he did not have enough qualifications academically and financially to thrive in that society as he was required to have a lot of capital to start any successful business as well as having a high income to meet with the expectations of the economy due to the high standards of living. At the end, Bob couldn’t match the expectations and ended up desperate with a lot of poverty.

His family was not spared either and they lived from hand to mouth without good housing or any reliable source of income (Banks, 1994).. On the other side, Vanise had moved to Florida hoping for better opportunities since this state seemed more economically stable than her country and was also a land full of opportunities. However, she also lacked the expected qualifications in terms of race, education and skills and hence ended up not getting an opportunity to achieve any of her dreams (Banks, 1994).


There was a high level of employment in Florida compared to New Hampshire and other developing countries. Therefore Florida seemed to be a land of opportunities for many foreigners especially the ones coming from the developing world.

Thus, it was a good reason for Bob to leave his country in search of better opportunities for employment (Banks, 1994). However, there were so many bureaucracies and long procedures required for one to be legally employed in the developed states such as Florida. Therefore, it proved to be very hard for Bob and other foreigners to get employment opportunities.

They also faced a stiff competition from the people in Florida since they were highly qualified with very good education offered in their country. The best job opportunities landed on the people who were better qualified, and therefore it was a real struggle for Bob as opposed to his expectations for easier employment opportunities (Banks, 1994). It is the same case for Vanise who left Haiti and went to Florida hoping for more opportunities and a better livelihood got her into a worse situation than what she was actually running from. Actually, she came to realize that there was a great disparity in those who actually benefited from the opportunities and the goodies of the land. Such benefits were dependent on different factors such as race, education level and gender amongst others. Hence, as a foreign immigrant who was also not very educated and actually a woman as far as gender was concerned, she found herself losing a lot to her society and ended up a very helpless without a good employment yet with a lot of financial needs that plunged her deeper into the poverty pit (Banks, 1994).

Poor Livelihood

There were some distinct and apparent differences in the different societies that were involved in the narrations for the main characters.

One of the major differences was in the context of the differences in the living standards of the people in those societies. This includes different factors such as their housing, education levels, cultural practices and activities as well as different indicators of development and modernity (Banks, 1994). It was clear that Bob and his family were used to poor living standards in their original home in New Hampshire. In fact, there was such a great difference in the living standards between the two states such that Bob found it very wise and desirable to migrate from his state to Florida. This way, he hoped to acquire more opportunities and finally be able to meet his life dreams coming true. However, to his disappointment, he realized when it was too late that a lot of factors determine if one was able to venture into the modernized world and enjoy all its benefits or whether one was left behind to suffer more loss and consequences of lack of knowledge, skills and other factors that determined the class of the individual in the society.

The high class and the low class in that society were determined by the individual’s gender, race and academic level amongst other factors (Banks, 1994). In the same way, Vanise had earlier on decided that she only required changing from her locality and engaging in the life of Florida so as to be able to become more successful and hence realize her dreams. She considered Haiti life a life that was of very low standards compared to the life in Florida. Even though her assumptions were right, she was shocked to realize that she could not have been able to achieve her dreams or even to access any of the opportunities that she had hoped to access. She was hence left in a very bad and unfortunate situation where she completely lacked a formal employment that would have helped cater for her and her family.

This situation actually revealed the great challenge of racism, low education levels for immigrants and even poor living standards for immigrants who moved to Florida hoping for more opportunities there (Banks, 1994).


The narration by Banks reveals a lot of differences that originate from the differences in localities and cultures of different societies just as there were differences that amounted from the physical drift of the continents during the time when continents drifted (Banks, 1994). These differences are more revealed in the areas of employment, economic balance and even the living standards amongst other factors. All these factors were clearly illustrated in the narrations as the main characters undergo different experiences and challenges in their quest to free themselves from their poor and lowly standards of living.


Banks, R. (1994).

Continental Drift. New York: Harper Perennial.


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