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Examining The Image Of Years as a child English Books Essay

When taking into consideration the conception of youth, it's important to bear in mind that the way authors depict children in their work will depend on their own concepts of childhood, which in turn will be determined by their personal histories and their behaviour to the present audience of children.

Alcott's depiction of the March family, for example is securely grounded in the real world of commerce, marriage and materialism. The cheerful March family portrayed in Little Women is also based on real people, an idealised entertainment of Alcott's own family. The overt announcements of family love and home stability are presented throughout the text, with the family and home regarded as a refuge from the harshness and doubt of the exterior world. Although Alcott includes girls with several areas of the romantic view of children: physical beauty, innocence, personality, and honourable nature, they do not have innate excellence. Each of the females has a persona problem: Meg's vanity, Jo's temper, Amy's selfishness, and Beth's shyness, which they must battle to overcome. The combo of parental direction and the didactic Puritan word Pilgrim's Progress will be the ways that girls learn the necessary lessons of life. When Marmee allows the girls a rest from doing their common household chores, they soon learn that no happiness can come from neglecting the easy duties of domesticity. By the end of the test, they say that their blunder, but Marmee, like early model parents, spells out the lesson anyway: 'I sought you to see how the comfort of most will depend on each doing her share faithfully. . . Work is wholesome, and there is plenty for each one; it continues us from. . . mischief, is wonderful for health insurance and spirits, and gives us a feeling of electric power and independence better than money or fashion' (Alcott 200?[1868], p. 115). Marmee is constantly in control of her daughters' learning, whether in work or morals. Little Women underlines the natural dominance of the parent over the kid, as well as celebrating the family and family ideals. Even though Alcott's girls are not entirely affectionate children, the publication itself can be put in the growing romantic strain in children's fiction.

Kirsty Cochrane cites Arthur Ransome as stating that his personas had 'no strong dividing brand between make-believe and actuality. . . I plus they slipped in and out of. . . the "real" life of the explorers and pirates half a dozen times in a chapter' (Cochrane, 1993). The book is, as Ransome easily acknowledges, a reconstruction of his own child years, with 'all the pieces that may have been ever so much better' put into the 'best pieces' which had actually happened (Cochrane, 1993). Anna Bogen highlights that 'the book takes the proper execution of a traditional island adventure history' pulling on the affects of Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island, as well as Barrie's Peter Skillet and the imaginary Never Land (Bogen, p. 194). Certainly, it is an extraordinary fantasy where men and women are 'natives' and adult concerns are generally disregarded (the children don't where life spencer) and the make-believe world of sailors and pirates becomes the children's 'truth'. A child-centred depiction of thoughts is certainly obvious in the charms of Roger, first seen working zig-zag up a field, pretending to be always a ship tacking into the wind flow, and the imaginative Titty who at various times pretends she's a cormorant or Robinson Crusoe, and whose unpredicted daring saves the day on more than one occasion. Theirs can be an 'idyllic playground' with 'hillsides, that ring the lake. . . [and] heather protected slopes above the woods' (Hunt(b), p. 180). As Hunt highlights, the countryside in books is a place for children, and readers, to flee the corruptions of today's world. It is definitely viewed as 'redemptive and genuine' and for that reason natural for writers to put it to use to 'preserve a wholesome, traditional idea of youth' (Hunt(a) p. 76 - 77).

Ransome's world is one where innocence is very much to the fore: there is no sexual interest no realistic assault to introduce unwelcome adult ideas into the innocent idyll. Tucker reviews that Ransome 'avoids sexuality by focusing on child characters as proto-type seamen and adventurers' (Tucker(b) ?).

Reynolds (2010) records that for most of the twentieth-century, there is an 'unwritten code of practice' about the content of children's literature, that was not placed by children themselves but by 'what. . . librarians, parents and professors wished to see in the literature they offered to children' (Reynolds, 2010). This led to the exclusion of intimacy, violence and 'bad' terminology; Reynolds cites Rose (1984) as saying that the imposition of the boundaries experienced 'much less to do with children's likes and development than with adult needs' (Reynolds, 2010) and their desire to provide a specific image of child years. Whether or not children did indeed express a 'fragile innocence', this is the image preferred by people, and the main one perpetrated as a great in the fiction which children were permitted to read. Although story keeps well within the 'restrictions' explained by Reynolds, strengths of impending adulthood, like the training of skills or the development of independence, are carefully interwoven in to the narrative and presented favourably. One might perhaps compare it to CS Lewis' exclusion of Susan, in the later Narnia literature: mental and spiritual progress are praised in the other children, however, not in Susan who, it is inferred, has become interested in the adult world of sexuality. Ransome contrives to disregard the more down-to-earth realities of mature life, and his personas are comfortable, somewhat than sanctimonious, in their innocence. The objective to return to the island annually 'for ever before and ever before' originates from the worldview of a kid: the understanding that whether they gain or not, is that of an adult.

However, Reynolds also records that 'exactly because children's catalogs. . . were generally assumed to be good for children' they were in a position to 'soar under the ethnical radar and. . . cross a variety of standard and unofficial boundaries' (Reynolds, 2010): she cites the preservation of the left-wing thinking in america under McCarthy as a noteworthy example. The 'aura of purity' which typified children's literature could conceal a 'outrageous zone' where there is 'space for dissenters of all varieties' (Reynolds, 2010). This 'space for dissension', especially in regard to gender roles, is examined in a few details by Ken Parille in his critique of Little Women. Sara Wadsworth commentary that nineteenth -century reviews for women consisted 'generally of sugar-coated lessons in morality and femininity' and despite the comparative freedom which Alcott allows her individuals in conditions of analyzing and critiquing public norms and constructs of gender, they eventually give back full circle to conformity (Wadsworth, 2010). Parille argues that although the primary critical focus has always been on the March young ladies and the public construct of femininity, we ought to also look tightly at the parallel development of Laurie, and his turmoil with the sociable build of masculinity. Jo remarks wistfully on several situations that kids are 'jolly' and also have a 'capital time', but in fact, Laurie does not. He is deterred from his preferred profession as a musician, first by his grandfather and then by Amy, who castigates those attributes in him which she perceives as 'feminine', stating 'instead of being the man you may and should be, you are only -----' (Alcott, p. 392). Laurie is steered into a conformist model of 'manhood' by Amy who persuades him that a 'real man' is actually powerful, enthusiastic, virile and focused on business interests rather than the arts. As Jo is not allowed to express 'masculine' traits, Laurie is not permitted 'feminine' ones. The 'space for dissent' in the text presents the prospect of children to develop as individuals, rather than as parents wish those to, but the probable is never satisfied. We are still left with the impression that the 'innocence' of childhood, perhaps displayed by the 'castles in the air' which the females and Laurie create in their imagination, is an appealing condition when young, and one where all manner of fanciful 'castles' may be designed. Adulthood, however, takes a loss of innocence and an evergrowing knowledge and approval of the 'real world' in which women and men are obliged to look at the roles lay out for the kids by world. As Parille remarks, so much attention is paid to the juxtaposition of moralizing and subversion in the young ladies' narratives, the fact that men are similarly influenced by conformity tends to be missed. As Sambell records, Reeve also troubles social assumptions by reversing the male and feminine assignments. Robbed of both her beauty and her child years, Hester can be an outsider, and defies many of the hallmarks of the affectionate child: she is strong, indie, and knowing. She also offers a somewhat shocking determination to wipe out, and carries a 'knife in her belt'. For a lot of the narrative, Hester will take the role of the person, caring for Tom. When she catches him crying, she responds by stating 'I never cry. . . I didn't even cry when Valentine murdered my mum and dad' (Reeve, p. 31). Tom In a single scene he wets his pants when he first faces a Stalker.

As Hunt (2010) state governments, there was something of the trend in children's books in the last mentioned area of the twentieth-century, in that 'the new world is one of the children reading more than to the children's freelance writers' (Hunt, 2010) or indeed to the individuals responsible for purchasing books on behalf of children. And because literature was arriving to reflect the reality, rather than the romanticism, of children's lives, the theory was put forward that 'child years is definitely not, or even commonly, a good location to be' (Hunt, 2010). The idyllic 'safe space' of Swallows and Amazons, even if it was predicated on the author's own experience of childhood, was no more perceived as typical. As Hunt says, individuals, especially parents, were not represented as the foundation of stableness and the fount of knowledge, but as ineffectual, even 'violent or homicidal towards their children' (Hunt, p. 80). In Junk for example, Tar's home life is not so rosy: he has a violent dad and an alcoholic mom. In the opening moments, he's a frightened boy about to run away from home QUOTE. Burgess doesn't skirt around difficult issues, providing his visitors underage sex, prostitution and assault. The kid as a hopeless and eager physique is personified in Gemma and Tar, adolescent heroin addicts who must take and prostitute themselves to survive. The fates of the characters are extreme: newborns are blessed, arrests are created, the threat of overdoses and violence is definitely present.

Burgess remarks that literature written for teenagers which dealt with 'modern concerns. . . such as sexuality, medication culture, family breakdowns' portrayed these issues more realistically and honestly, but were still read by young readers, rather than the teens to whom they were officially advertised. (Burgess, p. ?) Burgess shows that one of the reason why teenagers rejected literature which supposedly addressed 'their' issues and concerns was that such fiction sustained to perpetrate a moral model where there have been clearly-defined 'good' and 'bad' character types, and a 'happy finishing' for those privately of moral rectitude. Literature about medication culture portrayed drugs as 'a kind of dark power that turned common well-meaning people into evil shadows, like the Nazgul' who could only be 'preserved' by an innocent who 'escaped problem themselves by the skin of their pearly whites' (Burgess, p. 316). This, he asserts, was only a fantasy: in reality, nearly the same as the fiction of a youthful era in which childish innocence defeats the threat of evil from the mature world.

The proven fact that children still have to be guarded from literary works such as Junk remains. Idealising the kid is much easier than confronting real children. But Junk was written from the idea that children are more sophisticated than people realise, and this childhood 'innocence', in line with Rose's arguement, is something made by adults for their own comfort, rather than an aspect of real life. Certainly, a few of the occasions in the everyday life of children which Burgess describes are peculiar to society - six-year-olds viewing adult motion pictures in the house, for example. However, it is fair to presume that by any means points in history, all however the most intensively-guarded children have been exposed to some extent of sex, violence and profanity long before they themselves reach adulthood. The theory that Rubbish 'destroys children's innocence' is, says Burgess, a fallacy: there is no 'innocence' there to be demolished. A lot of the criticism levelled contrary to the book was that it refused to have a conventional moral stance: medication culture was not depicted as inherently good or wicked, but merely as an integral part of the people' lives. As Burgess says, it depicted 'people having a good time on drugs, all the fun of young people enjoying themselves, as well as the darker area - craving, casualties, despair' (Burgess, p. 316). The narrative was not constructed in a manner that conveyed a moral concept, in which youth was invariably destroyed or damaged by medicine use: it simply reflected the modern culture of teenage medicine users as the writer himself possessed experienced it.

Reeve's Mortal Machines, on the other palm, makes no say to social realism: it is just a science-fiction fantasy which incorporates lots of the elements of the traditional adventure story. It really is set in a post-apocalyptic world where in fact the social order is one of 'municipal Darwinism': metropolitan areas have grown to be autonomous, predatory entities employed in constant discord in order to survive. As Dawson (2007) records, Reeve uses parody and pastiche throughout the narrative, and will take 'obvious delight in absurd and grotesque heroes and situations' (Dawson, 2007). Root the layers of parody and grotesquery, however, is a fairly standard bildungsroman narrative, one which comes after the coming-of-age of the protagonist, and his transition to adulthood. The protagonist, Tom, goes through the conventional procedures of expanding personal moral prices, learning to discern who's trustworthy and who is not, in a series of encounters with people whose earlier histories and current motivations tend to be ambiguous. In a few ways, it could seem to represent a go back to an earlier style of children's literature, regardless of the futuristic setting up: we can certainly trace the impact of Treasure Island, for example, and you can argue a improvement from innocence to experience is present, rather than depiction of years as a child in which innocence does not exist whatsoever. In addition, the genre distances the reader of their own experience: the concepts of years as a child, adulthood and development are presented within an allegorical form, somewhat than with the immediacy of any social-realist narrative such as Junk. But what's evident is an enchanting faith in the power of junior to enhance the world; Tom and Hester's progress implying expect the future. The written text expresses a progressive ideology as the innate goodness of Reeve's heroes' triumphs within the corrupting influence of the culture, with them in the end emerging as metaphors for the need for cultural change. In this value, Mortal Engines satisfies Reynolds criteria by encouraging visitors to engage with new ideas and issues therefore preparing the way for social change.

We might conclude, then, that the romantic construct of childhood innocence can be seen as a grown-up invention, rather than a precise representation of youth as it really is. However, the degree to which this construct has been provided as a central component of children's literature varies considerably, as does the degree of subversion that can be identified within the various texts. Nineteenth and early twentieth- century fiction guarded 'innocence' by making certain adult behaviour and behaviours which were regarded 'unsuitable' for children were excluded from children's books, but we also see later examples of fiction which extended to give attention to a 'child's world', different from that of parents, in which 'unsuitable' elements were still never to be found. As Hunt comments, it was only with the appearance of authors such as Blume and Cormier that the idealised model of the child, the family, and the school was explicitly undermined and challenged. Such books was censured on the grounds that the reader's innocence had been damaged when in simple fact, the entire premise behind the narrative designs was that the majority of children did not inhabit an idyllic, Edenesque world to begin with. Burgess argues that the cultural realist book is a more authentic and genuine account of childhood than the passionate construction, which is a valid point; on the other hands, we also need to consider the author's own subjective point of view: Burgess is describing a world beyond your mainstream with which he is in person familiar, but it is not the world of all children everywhere. It is reasonable to dispute that any child who participates in normal interpersonal relationships will face sexuality and drug use, and that children's books should acknowledge this reality somewhat than substituting a fantasised, idealised world where 'heroes' and 'villains' are plainly delineated.

However, it is notable that Reeve's futuristic, imaginative wording, intentionally distanced from the harshness of social realism, has gained enormous popularity, as have works of Pullman and Rowling. The young protagonists may well not be 'innocent' in the sense of unaware, asexual beings, but neither are they depicted as having experienced all the tough realities of adulthood at an inappropriately early on age. The concentrate is on their gradual maturation, and the acquisition of experience: it is not a lot a loss of innocence as a gaining of knowledge. Furthermore, the dogmatic authorial voice is mostly absent: there are no thinly disguised moral homilies or lectures resolved to the reader, since the viewpoint is generally that of the kid protagonists themselves whose notion of 'innocence' is different then that of parents. Our judgment of the people changes and builds up as the protagonist himself matures, and we aren't carefully steered towards, for example, a typical social build of masculine and feminine even as we are in the dialogue between Amy and Laurie. In both imaginative and the public realist texts, however, we see a similar sense of ambiguity. Endings aren't conclusive, or even happy: Tom survives at the end of Mortal Motors, but Katherine will not; Harry Potter is remaining with no clear ethical course; even the children in Swallows and Amazons are arriving to discover that some things may stay constant, but their own futures are unmapped and uncharted. Burgess's personas already are in circumstances of flux, but as he says, to provide them with the prospect of an neatly-packaged happy stopping would have shifted the whole narrative into the realms of illusion, and reiterated an unrealistic image of youth innocence which the novel is at discomfort to avoid.

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