This article is making me think about certain story-telling elements.
I don't necessarily agree with everything, but it does bring up some interesting points. Like how the "fantasy" elements in fantasy novels are usually depicted as "ZOMG-SOOOOO-MUCH BETTER!!11!1" than the real world, aka "boring ol' reality." The Hero's Journey has lately become a tale of leaving the "banal" world behind and embracing the supernatural. The author argues that this is the hero's way of "refusing to grow up."
Where I disagree is that while a Hero's Journey doesn't always have a "return," it doesn't mean that they're bashing reality. Take two of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales, "Thumbelina" and "The Little Mermaid." Thumbelina doesn't go back to her mom, and the mermaid doesn't go back to sea. But they're still bildungsromans in that they're newly formed "adults" trying to find their place in the world, with varying degrees of success. Thumbelina (and Disney's Ariel) make it, but the original mermaid wasn't so lucky. Their journeys are about finding a place they can
That said, there's the treatment of adults, teens, and children in stories, and why I feel so alienated from a lot of YA and children's books lately.
There's this pervading feeling I'm getting that adults = bad, children = good. I know, I know, Adults Are Useless has been around since the beginning of time, but bear with me here. There's a lot of conflicting messages in society that vary from "Jesus, grow up." and "Childhood is the most magical age! I wish I were a kid again!" Hell, I've indulged a lot in the latter thinking. As a kid, I went back and forth between wanting to grow up or staying young forever. I'm almost 25 and I feel like I act younger than my age, and I don't know if it's a good or bad thing. I'm uncertain of who I am and I don't know everything like an adult "should." So when I read a YA or children's book that says, "Ugh, adults are stiff and unimaginative scum who are too old to understand anything, children are pure and awesome and know things older people can't possibly conceive!" I feel like a bunch of kids are frowning and pushing me off their sandbox saying, "Go away, you're grown up. We don't want you here anymore."
I'm not sure if I got the impression that adults were evil as a kid. When I was reading Dahl's books, the mean adults were punished because they were assholes, not necessarily because they were adults. You still had adults like Miss Honey and the Narrator's Grandmother from "The Witches" to look up, and I'm certain the bugs in "James and the Giant Peach" were grown-ups who adopted James. In Narnia, the adults weren't oblivious so much that I got to share a secret that only the Pevensies and I know. (That said, Lewis's dismissal of Susan in the last book pissed me off. How dare
she try to build a life outside of Narnia, especially after the tragedy that befell her family!) In fact, through life, I got the impression that adults and children were capable of both
good and evil.
I think that's part of why I love Lord of the Flies
so much. Golding had the guts to say that not only can kids be bullies, they can be downright sadistic due to their undeveloped empathy. From what I learned in psychology, children have a "ME ME ME" mindset that makes it hard for them to understand complex emotions or see themselves in "another person's shoes." They're extremely literal. I still haven't finished reading Peter Pan
, but I get a creepy vibe from Book!Peter because
of his inability to grow up. To quote a review of the book: "Barrie loves the Child, but he does not hide its foolishness, its selfishness, its ignorance. The Child in this is almost pre-moral. They have some understanding of villainy, but do not grasp the virtue of a hero. Barrie deems a key attribute to being a child as being heartless."
Hell, Battle Royale
is engaging for me because it's about a bunch of high schoolers and the various "adult" choices they have to make against a violent dystopia.
While working on my novel, I found myself dealing a lot with the subject of childhood, nostalgia and growing up. In a way, a child who stops playing with a toy is an allegory for a toy beginning "adulthood." Eventually, you will be outgrown, and stop being played with. There's absolutely no stopping this, and that's okay. Now you have the freedom to learn, explore and grow, and that journey is never-ending. It's not easy, but life has its balance of ups and downs, and all of them worth experiencing. The book is about Ann & Andy's life after
Marcella, and what happens to them. Maybe the novel is my way of helping myself adjust to adulthood and finally discover my place in the world. Hm.
DON'T MIND ME, JUST BABBLING.