Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn is a great novel on many levels. It relates the story of one girl's fight for freedom of expression. You see, Ella is a girl that lives on the island of Nollop off the shoreline of the Palmetto State. The island is named after Nevin Nollop, a sort of deity on their lands, for he was the one who originated the immortal phrase "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."
There is a large statue of Mr. Nollop on the island with his immortal phrase written underneath. However, due to some faulty adhesive properties, the letters have started to fall off, shattering on the ground. The government is up in arms about what to do in regard to the falling letters. Is it Mr. Nollop's spirit dropping them? Is Mr. Nollop telling them something from the ether? The totalitarian government thinks it so, so every letter that drops is one less letter the natives are allowed to speak or even write.
Being that one of the major themes of the novel is totalitarianism one of the key features of language can be very well applied. The fact that language is rule-governed is used throught out this novel as the government is the one that implies the laws to take away the letters from the alphabet. This key feature also ties up the hidden themes of censorship and authority with the overall message about language. Since there are laws being passed to change the language, a form of communication, for the citizens by the Council, then this Council is manipulating what the public sees and how they see it to their own advantage. And the Council being the authority figure that it is created intimidation in its citizens in terms of a rebelion for fear of what the penalties would be.
Another major theme of this novel is that of freedom of speech. The removal of the letters from the alphabet were caused by the religous belief that Mr.Nollop was trying to tell the people something. Religion is a very important factor when it comes to language because of the fact that people communicate to others their thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. For this major them the best key feature of language is that of language being creative and open-ended. With having language be open-ended we can use the knowledge that we have of grammar and word structure and create communication that can be as unique as any individual. As the Council in the novel would take away letters they would also take away the freedom of speech that the citizen's had, since they didnt have much to communicate anymore. Which brought up the question of a citizen's right to conduct themselves in misery or stand up for their rights and what was rightfully theirs.
This entire novel revolves around the concept of language and how powerful language can be if it is restricted from the people, as it is their main form of communication and learning. As the letters of the statue kept comming off the plot of the story became even more interesting as the developement of the characters was as limited as the language they were left with. This novel shows the high importance of language and the devistation we would suffer without it.