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Showing posts from June, 2017

Emapathy=Maturity in Zindel's "The Pigman"

In The Pigman , author Paul Zindel follows many expected tropes in young adult literature: coming of age, wild exploration, passion, etc. However, Zindel excels in his exploration of another important trope of the genre, what Havinghurst identifies as “achieving emotional independence from parents and other adults.” In The Pigman , the protagonists Lorraine and John achieve emotional independence from their parents by learning to understand and empathize with them. More empathetic than John from the beginning of the story, Lorraine is the more emotionally mature of the two; however, while Lorraine is able to empathize with her teachers and the school librarian, she is initially unable to empathize with her mother. John may arguably be the more typical of the two teenage characters, showing little empathy for anyone at the beginning of the story and by inference, less maturity. After building a relationship with Mr. Pignati and witnessing his fears, such as being alone and dying withou

Pathos, Ethos, and Logos in Hinton's "The Outsiders"

When Aristotle wrote his treatise on the art of persuasion 2400 years ago, he identified its three main elements: audience (pathos), purpose (logos), and tone (ethos). Today, practice still honors Aristotle’s insight as a touchstone for any persuasive document. One reason S.E. Hinton’s novel The Outsiders retains its persuasive appeal to young readers is the way it addresses these three classic elements of persuasion. Obviously, Hinton considered her audience, whether consciously or not, while writing her novel. Will Rogers High School English teacher Kim Piper noted that “kids here can especially identify with Ponyboy and his group” because they share a similar level of poverty. Will Rogers 9th grader Esteban Rivero said that he relates to the book because “It talks about how youngsters live and how they can get all caught up in their friends and cliques.” Specifically, Hinton establishes the age and socioeconomic classification of the narrator in the first line: “When I stepped out

"Anne of Green Gables" as Young Adult Fiction

Young Adult (YA) literature is a greased pig, hard to catch and even harder to hold onto. Some define it broadly, pretty much including any work of fiction with an adolescent who is 13-19 years old. With a protagonist who is younger than that it's either MG or "Children's." With a slightly older protagonist, it's now popular to call it "New Adult" (a very hot genre, by the way). Some of the narrower definitions touch upon style (straightforward) and themes (coming of age, etc). There are several tropes in YA, which vary depending on the more specific genre classification. In other words, you can put YA in front of any standard genre and it's considered a new genre (YA Romance, YA Horror, YA Fantasy, etc.). The problem lies in the practice. Although a true genre should have somewhat consistent themes and tropes, current practice is to classify just about anything with an adolescent protagonist as YA. So if it's a fantasy story with a young protago

The Influence of "Huckleberry Finn" on Young Adult Literature

Hemingway once wrote, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn . There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since" (28). Of course, there have been those who disagree. In an 1885 New York World review, Joseph Pulitzer called The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn "cheap and pernicious stuff” with a "wretchedly low, vulgar, sneaking and lying Southern country boy" as the protagonist. At the same time, The San Francisco Evening Bulletin called the story’s influence on children "not altogether desirable, nor is it one that most parents who want a future of promise for their young folks would select without some hesitation." While Hemingway’s praise overlooks the value of other literature through the centuries into modern times, the fact that Huckleberry Finn remains a pillar of Young Adult (YA) literature more than 130 years after its publication at least partially justifies Hemingway’s enthusiasm f