Jaspar Jones by Craig Silvey features a naïve adolescent and his maturation into adulthood, driven by the horrific events he witnesses in the town of Corrigan. Catalysed by Laura’s death, the novel utilises a plethora of language devices and narrative conventions to portray racism as subversive and unfair, ultimately highlighting the dysfunctionality that exists in societies like Corrigan’s. The texCharlie’s ejection from his childish world of innocence is reflective to his ‘awakening’ from the surrounding depravity of his town. Prior to this, however, the fragility of his persona serves to elucidate readers to the harsh realities of life, portraying a morbid society where children like Eliza and Charlie are forced to abandon their childhoods.
Furthermore, Charlie’s ‘awakening’ is juxtaposed with his naivete and innocence, enlightening readers to the ambiguity, and in the words of Charlie, “the hypocrisy” of the townsfolk, regarding right and wrong. Charlie’s uncertain tone is repeated numerously throughout the novel as he Charlie’s characterisation regarding his inability to pursue convictions – the lack of courage further stems the weakness he embodies – that which is juxtaposed against Jaspar’s facade of manliness further highlights the dysfunctionality of the town, illuminating how amidst such horrific circumstances characters are forced relinquish their optimistic worldviews, alternatively adopting a bleakish one. Jasper is characterised as having a “tall, defined body” where assonance is used to interest readers to his hair, labelling it as a “scruff of rough tufts.” Alongside visual imagery describing his “button shirt fit to burst”, his rugged appearance is described with simile as “like an island castaway.” Although his muscular physique is implied to have caused him to “outgrow his clothes” which is evidenced by repetition of the word “muscle”, Silvey contrasts these ‘manly’ adultlike descriptions of Jasper’s frame with mentions of his “wiry” body and his hair that he “hacks at (it) himself.
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” The word ‘wiry’ appearing alongside ‘tall’ and ‘muscley’ seems oxymoronic to readers, and the fact he is forced to “hack” at his own hair as if mutilating it foregrounds his clumsiness and thus Jasper’s inner-child. Therefore, Silvey exploits Jasper’s macho exterior when contrasted with Charlie’s fragility to portray both characters as helpless Ultimately, Silvey’s use of characterisation warrants a sympathetic response from myself and other readers alike when viewing Jaspar and Charlie as vulnerable children within a severely distorted society. We’re left with the realisation that Jasper is forced to adapt to his unfortunate surroundings by adopting a brutish-masculine personaThe propensity of the characters in Jasper Jones to seek solace in cowardice; escaping and neglecting their obligations further develops the notion of the dysfunctionality within Corrigan.
Antagonistic characters such as Charlie’s mother, and protagonists such as Charlie and Jasper all seek to escape their isolated and decrepit town. Such a prevailing desire of these characters evinces the universality of this prolonged escapism. Thus, Silvey represents the desire to escape our surroundings amidst turmoil as innately human: and although the denouement of the novel ends ambiguously to whether Jasper is better off having left Corrigan, it ultimately presents escapism negatively as being unconducive to improving the terrible circumstances we may find ourselves in. As a contemporary reader, I feel inclined to agree with this portrayal, however, perhaps it seems so digestible to me because I’ve never experienced such hardship to warrant such extreme measures of escapism like being an alcoholic or committing suicide. Furthermore, Silvey’s construction of the novel’s setting portrays Corrigan as a rural mining town in Western Australia.
Imagery is used to describe the… as. Contextually speaking, the novel being set in the 1960s follows a turbulent moment in Australian history, where isolated and unexpansive towns, like Corrigan, harboured deeply prejudiced ideologies. Rather than directing blame towards particular individual’s for their prejudiced views/actions, Silvey normalises such thoughts with the usage of … Readers are perDistorted societal paradigm.