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Life is like a... HUM 3285: Postmodern Adolescent Literature Spring 2012 Dr. Perdigao January 20, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Life is like a... HUM 3285: Postmodern Adolescent Literature Spring 2012 Dr. Perdigao January 20, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Life is like a... HUM 3285: Postmodern Adolescent Literature Spring 2012 Dr. Perdigao January 20, 2012

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3 Casting Call The Goober/Roland Goubert Jerry Renault Coach Obie Archie Costello Brother Leon Carter Bailey (not Caroni) Emile Janza Brother Eugene John Sulkey/Tubs Casper/Paul Consalvo (chocolate sales) Brian Cochran David Caroni (not Bailey) Brother Jacques Kevin Chartier/Danny Arcangelo (telephone conversation) Howie Anderson (junior class president)/Richy Rondell Ellen Barrett Harold Darcy

4 Empowerment/Disempowerment Means of power and control Physical—force, intimidation Carter, Janza Brother Leon Psychological Archie’s assignments Resistance Jerry “he’s become a symbol to those who would like to see the sale defeated. The malingerers, the malcontents—they always rally around a rebel” (165). Obie? Goober? “It was there because it served a purpose. The Vigils kept things under control. Without The Vigils, Trinity might have been torn apart like other schools had been, by demonstrations, protests, all that crap.” (27)

5 Finishing Last? “I was trying to write realistically, even though I knew it would upset some people. The fact is that the good guys don’t always win in real life, and I wanted to show that. I also wanted to indict those who don’t try to help, who remain indifferent in the face of evil or wrongdoing. They are as bad as or possibly worse than the villains themselves.” --Robert Cormier Archie, reflecting on Janza: “The world was made up of two kinds of people— those who were victims and those who victimized” (106). David Caroni (not Bailey): “Were teachers as corrupt as the villains you read about in books or saw in movies and television?” (112). Still not Bailey: “And he did see—that life was rotten, that there were no heroes, really, and that you couldn’t trust anybody, not even yourself” (115).

6 Identity Politics Naming and action Exploration, becoming, growth, pain “He was stunned by the knowledge that pain isn’t just one thing—it is cunning and various, sharp here and sickening there, burning here and clawing there” (2). “Staring at the inside of the locker, like looking into an upright coffin, he felt as though someone was trying to obliterate him, remove all traces of his existence, his presence in the school. Or was he becoming paranoid?” (224) “After the last class that morning, Jerry walked freely down the corridor, headed for the cafeteria, swinging along with the crowd, enjoying his absence of identity” (225). “He knew he wasn’t invisible any longer” (225). “Suddenly the pain verified his existence, brought him into focus. Here and now. Jesus, the pain.” (257)

7 Universe-Disturbing “‘No. I’m not going to sell the chocolates.’” “Cities fell. Earth opened. Planets tilted. Stars plummeted. And the awful silence.” (118) “The message had been virtually obliterated. Do I dare disturb the universe? was now a grotesque jumble of unconnected letters. It was such a senseless, childish act of vandalism that Jerry was more awed than angered.” (192) “Looking wistfully at the poster, he pondered the damaged words: Do I dare disturb the universe?” (196). “Do I dare disturb the universe? Yes, I do, I do. I think. Jerry suddenly understood the poster—the solitary man on the beach standing upright and alone and unafraid, poised at the moment of making himself heard and known in the world, the universe.” (196)

8 (No) Universe-Disturbing “He didn’t want his father’s universe to be disturbed and he wanted his own to be put in order again” (225). “A new sickness invaded Jerry, the sickness of knowing what he had become, another animal, another beast, another violent person in a violent world, inflicting damage, not disturbing the universe but damaging it. He had allowed Archie to do this to him.” (254) “The pain had become the nature of his existence but this other thing weighed on him, a terrible burden. What other thing? The knowledge, the knowledge: what he had discovered....” “He recognized Goober’s voice and it was important to share the discovery with Goober. He had to tell Goober to play ball, to play football, to run, to make the team, to sell the chocolates, to sell whatever they wanted you to do.... They tell you to do your thing but they don’t mean it. They don’t want you to do your thing, not unless it happens to be their thing, too. It’s a laugh, Goober, a fake. Don’t disturb the universe, Goober, no matter what the posters say.... Otherwise, they murder you.” (259)

9 Childhood/Adulthood The place of adolescents/adolescence Adolescence as middle-age: “‘You’re missing a lot of things in the world, better not miss that bus’” (20). “‘It’s all a game, Goob. Think of it as fun and games. Let them have their fun. Brother Eugene must have been on the borderline, anyway...’” “It’s more than fun and games, Jerry. Anything that can make you cry and send a teacher away—tip him over the borderline—that’s more than just fun and games.” (160) Spacks’ generational divide Indeterminate conclusions in 20 th century literature MacLeod’s notion of the “inward journey” No adults to help

10 Thematic Elements “Murdering” of Jerry Martyr figure “The shadows of the goal posts definitely resembled a network of crosses, empty crucifixes. That’s enough symbolism for one day, Obie told himself.” (16) “He looked at the goal posts. They reminded him of something. He couldn’t remember.” (262) Jerry, accepting the rules: “What would they do to the world when they left Trinity” (236). Return to Lord of the Flies? “Boys will be boys” (261).


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