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System to Question to Challenge: the Fictional Construction of Adolescence in Kipling’s Kim, Chambers’ Dance on My Grave and Hartnett’s Sleeping Dogs.

Webb, Jean (2010) System to Question to Challenge: the Fictional Construction of Adolescence in Kipling’s Kim, Chambers’ Dance on My Grave and Hartnett’s Sleeping Dogs. In: The Emergent Adult, September 3rd-6th 2010, University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, Homerton. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper is a discussion of the changing fictional construction of adolescence as presented in Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (1901), Aidan Chambers’ Dance on My Grave (1982) and Sonya Hartnett’s Sleeping Dogs (1995). The hypothesis is that the construction of adolescence in fiction written in English moves from socialisation into the cultural system, to questioning such systems and consequently challenging the construction of society and societal norms. Kipling’s Kim depicts the young protagonist shifting from childhood to teenage years in a period when there was no recognition of a separate period of adolescence, but where the male child moved from childhood to young manhood. Set in British India Kim experiences two philosophical approaches that of the East and that of the West. Kim represents a bridge between cultures and has to find his own positioning and sense of identity, which is finally compliant with notions of British Imperial ‘Englishness’. Kipling’s novel positions the protagonist in a cultural politicized system beyond that of the family unit. Chambers’ Dance on My Grave raises and questions the social construction of adolescence, sexuality and the nature of love within a ‘conventional’ English family. Sonya Hartnett’s novel Sleeping Dogs challenges the construction of the family unit, notions of love and responsibility. Set in the Australian outback, the novel places the characters within a family, yet here the social norms are challenged from both the adolescent perspective and from the expectations of adult responsibility. Hartnett exposes the fragility of social norms and the pressures on the adolescent when system has ‘been removed’.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
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Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescence, fictional construction, Rudyard Kipling, Aidan Chambers, Sonya Harnett
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts
Depositing User: Jean Webb
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2010 12:24
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2012 05:00
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/1063

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