How Relationships Help Young Adults Form Their Sense of Self in YA Literature

While we might not all actively notice it in our day-to-day lives, the people around us play a large role in shaping who we are and the things we do. Everyone from our parents to our friends have a hand in influencing our self-identity.

Characters in Young Adult Literature generally follows this norm as well, and we can see the impact of their relationships throughout their stories. We can recognize the different ways a character’s relationship with their grandparent impacts them compared to that of their romantic partner, or a best friend compared to a sibling. While they’re each unique, each relationship impacts that character’s development throughout their story in a variety of ways. YA Literature is especially well chosen for this analysis of character development because in most cases, the main character is going through a time of self-discovery and learning who they want to become, similar to the intended audience. EBSCO, an industry leader in library and information services, mentions in one of their blog posts how YA literature uniquely addresses its intended audience.

“Moreover, YA writers have created some truly powerful reads. While many would argue that YA literature doesn’t compare to the literary merits of Henry James and his ilk, critics have lauded YA books for their ability to address the life needs of . . . their intended audience ― that is, adolescents between the ages of 12-18 (Benefits).”

This is especially important because YA literature provides its readership with examples of characters, relationships, and real world issues that teens may face and the impact of all of them. Whether the setting of the YA novel is as fictional as Hogwarts in Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or as real world as the settings we see in Quintero’s Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, or Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, these books are helping young adults navigate their adolescence and relationships.

Through the use of different mediums, from a story told in third person to a diary told in first person, each of the three above mentioned narratives demonstrates the impact of close relationships on character development of both the fictional characters and the readers themselves. YA Literature creates something truly unique in how it presents stories written for an audience who are going through a very turbulent life period with many changes and gives them a life raft of relatability. The previously mentioned EBSCO blog post really touches on this aspect of relatability.

“More and more teachers around the world are using YA literature in their classrooms to teach the skills that students need to be successful. While the Western canon is full of fantastic reads, YA literature tends to offer students something that the classics cannot: a story to which they can relate (Benefits).”

It’s one thing to be forced as an adolescent student to read a book about people that you can’t understand due to such a huge time period and language dialect difference let alone decipher what they’re actually dealing with and being able to relate to that experience. It’s a totally different encounter to read a book told by someone who is like looking into a mirror, with the same issues you face and someone whom you can relate to and maybe even learn from. It changes the entire interaction with the story and the things you take away from it. This is especially true when going through a time period of massive change like adolescence, where everything feels like it’s shifting under your feet and you feel like all your imagined control is nowhere in sight.

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, we’re introduced to Harry Potter’s last living relatives, the Dursleys, which includes his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, and cousin Dudley. The Dursleys treat Harry like he is their live-in servant, with his “bedroom” being the closet under the stairs and forcing Harry to do household chores at their whim. The lack of respect towards Harry is evident even to Harry himself. An example of this disrespect is when, on Dudley’s birthday the Dursleys discuss finding an alternate babysitter. “’We could phone Marge,’ Uncle Vernon suggested. ‘Don’t be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy.’ The Dursleys often spoke about Harry like this, as though he wasn’t there — or rather, as though he was something very nasty that couldn’t understand them, like a slug (Rowling, 22).” Rather than simply ignoring Harry or treating him with indifference, the Dursley’s go out of their way to make him feel like less than a human being and that he doesn’t deserve even a small respectful or even neutral acknowledgement. While Harry’s Aunt and Uncle continue to treat Harry so horribly, their son Dudley provides contrast to Harry, being an extremely spoiled brat of a child, almost running the household with his petulance. “Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn’t really crying – it had been years since he’d really cried – but he knew that if he screwed up his face and wailed, his mother would give him anything he wanted (Rowling, 23).” Because of this upbringing with such a negative family and home life, Harry very much doesn’t take anything for granted and appreciates small gestures of kindness and returns those gestures when able. An example of this is when Harry meets Hagrid for the first time and is handed a cake from Hagrid.

“From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slightly squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing. Harry looked up at the giant. He meant to say thank you, but the works got lost on the way to his mouth, and what he said instead was, ‘Who are you?’ (Rowling, 47-48)”

Hagrid acknowledges Harry and the fact that it’s his birthday by gifting him a cake. In this one simple interaction, a stranger to Harry has been nicer and treated him with more respect than his “family” has in his 11 years.

As Harry and Hagrid get to know one another, Hagrid acts as a parental figure towards Harry throughout his time at Hogwarts, introducing Harry to the wizarding world in Diagon Alley, celebrating Harry’s triumphs, and helping Harry learn valuable lessons when necessary. When the two are traversing through Diagon Alley and split up so Hagrid could take a break he comes back bearing a sweet snack for himself and Harry, “Hagrid was standing there, grinning at Harry and pointing at two large ice creams to show he couldn’t come in (Rowling 78).” Hagrid is trying to give Harry the best experience he can when introducing him to a completely new world and help him prepare for Hogwarts by brightening his day with a simple, but kind, act. Another example of Hagrid taking on a parental role in Harry’s life is not only continuing to celebrate Harry’s birthday by getting him a present, but also getting him a gift that has a purpose and fulfils that purpose well.

“ ‘Just ye wand left – oh yeah an’ I still haven’t got yeh a birthday present.’ Harry felt himself go red. ‘You don’t have to –’ ‘I know I don’t have to. Tell yeh what, I’ll get yer animal. Not a toad, toads went outta fashion years ago, yeh’d be laughed at – an’ I don’t like cats, they make me sneeze. I’ll get yer an owl. All the kids want owls, they’re dead useful, carry yer mail an’ everythin’ ’ . . . Harry now carried a large cage that held a beautiful snowy owl, fast asleep with her head under her wing. He couldn’t stop stammering his thanks, sounding like Professor Quirrell. ‘Don’t mention it,’ said Hagrid gruffly. ‘Don’t expect you’ve had a lotta presents from them Dursleys . . . (Rowling 81).”

This gift of an animal, that can help Harry in multiple ways, is thoughtful and deliberate. Hagrid knows that while he might not always be able to be there for Harry, he can get him a companion that will help him transition between the muggle world and the wizarding world. Hagrid’s gift of an owl is also a smart gift in how Hedwig is able to help Harry communicate to people no matter where he or they are.

An example of Hagrid taking on a more disciplinary role is when, after helping Ron’s brother Charlie get Hagrid’s dragon out of the castle safely, Harry and Hermione get caught wandering the castle after curfew and are assigned to do detention with Hagrid. He doesn’t go easy on them. “ ‘Yeh’ve done wrong an’ now yeh’ve got to pay fer it’ (Rowling 250).” This is especially important, because while Harry and Hermione might have been trying to do what was right, they still broke school rules to do it. Hagrid want’s them to learn from this mistake and understand the importance of the school rule which he knows are there and enforced to keep them safe. We can see Harry developing his sense of self, how he wants to be treated by others, and how he knows he should act from each of these examples.

In Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, we get a very different perspective, a girl’s personal diary entries written only for her eyes. Because of this we see Gabi able to express her truest feelings without fear of judgement from others. Gabi writes many of her diary entries about frustrations she has with her family. This includes her mother’s ideas about how Gabi should behave regarding eating, dating, school, and friends; her father and the impact his meth addiction has on her; the responsibility Gabi feels towards helping raise her brother to be a good man; and the strained relationship Gabi has with her aunt. Gabi’s mother has, in my opinion, the biggest impact on Gabi. I say this because we read Gabi’s internal monologue and it’s filled with self-derisive speech surrounding her weight, expectations she doesn’t feel she meets, and writing that combats those two things and starts a new dialogue revolving around self-acceptance and growth. These are things that Gabi received from her mother’s small but often comments regarding Gabi and what she does wrong in her eyes. “‘Ay mijo! Obviously, there’s a boy who likes your sister and cares about what she likes. Now imagine if she lost a little weight and took more care of herself, how many more boys would like her?’ (Quintero, 126)” Gabi’s mother thinks that Gabi can always do something more or better in her eyes. This really impacts Gabi and her self-identity. It causes Gabi to constantly question why her mother believes these things about her and from the very beginning Gabi doesn’t agree with many of the expectations set by her family; in this case how she and other women should be valued.

“Every time I go out with a guy, my mom says, ‘Ojos abiertos, piernas cerradas.’ Eyes open, legs closed. That’s as far as the birds and the bees talk has gone. And I don’t mind it. I don’t necessarily agree with that whole wait-until-you’re-married crap though. I mean, this is America and the twenty-first century, not Mexico one hundred years ago. But, of course, I can’t tell my mom that because she’ll think I’m bad. Or worse: trying to be White (Quintero, 7).”

This mentality of a women only having worth while she stays a virgin, in Gabi’s mind and many others, is outdated. We can see how this belief held by her mother, impacts her self image throughout the story and how her mother doesn’t even stand up to this ideal she holds Gabi to since she had Gabi at 25 out of wedlock. Additionally, because of this attitude, Gabi really doesn’t feel comfortable even talking with her mom about sex and romantic relationships she enters into throughout the story, there’s a major disconnect between them, and this impacts how Gabi approaches what her mother would consider taboo subjects.

Aristotle has a similar situation with his father, who won’t open up to Aristotle and talk to him about himself and his past experiences in the war that left him so devastated. When Dante gives Aristotle’s father an art book, Ari can’t understand why he loves it so much. “My father took the book and sat down with it. As if it was some kind of treasure. See, I didn’t get my dad. I could never guess how he would react to things. Not ever (Saenz, 33).” We can see here Ari’s real confusion regarding his father and how there is still so much Ari doesn’t know about him. This teaches Ari the bad coping habit of trying to contain everything that you’re experiencing rather than talk about it and deal with it. We learn more about Aristotle’s relationship with his father a few pages after the art book enters the story.

“I’d never thought of my father as the kind of man who understood art. I guess I saw him as an ex-Marine who became a mailman after he came home from Vietnam. An ex-Marine mailman who didn’t like to talk much. . .I could have asked my father lots of questions. I could have. But there was something in his face and eyes and in his crooked smile that prevented me from asking. I guess I didn’t believe he wanted me to know who he was. So I just collected clues. Watching my father read that book was another clue in my collection. Some day all the clues would come together. And I would solve the mystery of my father (Saenz, 36-37).”

Aristotle doesn’t feel comfortable talking with his dad because he doesn’t think his dad wants to be understood by him, which isn’t the case, but this view of their relationship influences Ari in how he communicates with the world and others around him. Ari is a pretty quiet character most of the time, only speaking when the situation really calls for it, and in this we can see how he follows his father’s example. Comparatively Dante’s family is open, boisterous, and in some instances almost too close to one another.

“One night, when there was no moon in the night sky, Dante’s mom and dad took us out into the desert so we could use his new telescope. On the drive out, Dante and his dad sang along to the Beatles—not that either of them had good singing voices. Not that they cared. They touched a lot. A family of touchers and kissers. Every time Dante entered the house, he kissed his mom and dad on the cheek—or they kissed him—as if all that kissing was perfectly normal. I wondered what my father would do if I ever went up to him and kissed him on the cheek. Not that he would yell at me. But—I don’t know (Saenz, 41).”

Dante’s family is more open both physically and emotionally, sharing an experience of going out stargazing together and singing on the way to the desert. They show their love of each other through physical touch and time spent together whereas Aristotle’s family is more closed off to each other due to traumas that Ari’s parents haven’t fully dealt with yet. Dante reflects parts of his parents in this sense as well, being much more open to talking about difficult subjects and being more accepting of himself as he forms into who he wants to be as a person.

Throughout all three of these stories we see how the characters and their relationships with their family can have such a large impact on them and how they develop throughout their stories. The more important aspect of YA Fiction is how it can have an impact on the readers themselves. Mina Shah mentions a few really good points on why YA Fiction is so important.

“…the act of reading books trains our minds to work through real-world problems in the same sort of way that adult literature does, but YA makes it easier to digest. This is especially true if the structure and thematic schema of a book are particularly complex, which can often be the case with YA novels. Increasingly, they grapple with darker, more adult themes and leverage a variety of structural strategies (Shah).”

The more information a reader has been exposed to having to deal with a specific situation, the better they could be at dealing with that situation themselves. At the very least, it helps young adults feel like they’re not alone in the things they’re experiencing in their lives and that it’s ok to not know how to deal with adulting as a young adult. Shah makes another good point about the relatability of these novels and how that plays into their importance.

“Young adult literature can feel really relevant to things that we’re dealing with in our own lives, even if the characters are sometimes slightly younger than we are. It deals with a lot of firsts (first loves, first experiences with illicit substances, first instances of having to take real responsibility for actions), that most of us can…relate well [to] (Shah).”

Much of a story’s power lies in who can relate to it, whose mind it changes, or who it causes to take action towards something. I believe that YA Fiction can do all of these things for an audience that is usually going through a very turbulent time in their lives and trying to learn how to navigate situations in a way that they want to, rather than one that they have to. Gabi does this through writing in her diary, Aristotle does it by reflecting internally and observing, and Harry does it by talking with his friends and reflecting as well. Everyone copes with life differently, but the people you surround yourself with have an impact on how you perceive the world around you and how you deal with things that turn life on its side.

What YA Literature helped you as a young adult come to terms with life and growing up? What authors had the most impact on your young self and how did they impact you as a person? Do you still read YA Literature in your free time? If so, does it help you learn how to deal with more adult situations and experiences? What are your thoughts?

Work Cited

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. London, Penguin Classics, 1998.

Quintero, Isabel. Gabi, a Girl in Pieces. Cinco Puntos Press, 2014.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic Inc., 1997.

Saenz, Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Simon & Schuster, 2012.

Shah, Mina. “The case for young adult literature.” The Stanford Daily, The Stanford Daily Publishing Corporation, https://www.stanforddaily.com/2015/04/21/the-case-for-young-adult-literature/. 30 June 2019.

“The Benefits of Using Young Adult (YA) Literature in Classrooms.” EBSCOpost, 10 Sept. 2015, https://www.ebsco.com/blog/article/the-benefits-of-using-young-adult-ya-literature-in-classrooms.

“You Are The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With.” YouTube, uploaded by The Art of Improvement, 26 Aug. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdDIPLGKNCI.

Advertisements

The Healing Effects of Writing as Therapy and The Power of Written Words in Brown Girl Dreaming

“The use of language as a vehicle of emotional need is a normal one in human development. In early childhood the expression of emotion, so often accompanied by vigorous physical activity, must of course be oral. … In later years at least a part of this function of achieving and maintaining tensional equilibrium can be taken over by the more precise instrument of writing (Burrows, 136).”

We use language, both oral and written, to express things that stress out out and make us really happy. What do you do when you’re upset or really excited? Do you want to talk to someone about it? Or write the emotions down to get them out of your head? Many of the stories and the characters we’ve explored in this class so far have done one or many of those options. We all desire to express our feelings and return to some kind of emotional equilibrium; writing and speaking are ways that we as humans like to do that.

We’ve seen books throughout this class that were written as both a way to deal with traumatic experiences the authors had and to take back their power and acceptance of those experiences. In Gabi, a Girl in Pieces we see Quintero’s story told through the diary of a fictional character based on herself. Sanez uses a similar story to help him cope with trauma surrounding his identity as a gay Mexican-American and coming to terms with that identity. Brown Girl Dreaming demonstrates this connection between the author and writing as an emotional outlet as well. All of these authors struggled with accepting themselves in the context of their own lives. We see this in their work, specifically in Brown Girl Dreaming when Woodson speak of being compared to her sister, and speaking about how her and her family contrast from herself and her family. During an interview with a webblog, Rhapsody in Books, Jacqueline Woodson talks about how writing made her believe in herself from a young age:

“Sometimes, when I’m sitting at my desk for long hours and nothing’s coming to me, I remember my fifth grade teacher, the way her eyes lit up when she said “This is really good.” The way, I — the skinny girl in the back of the classroom who was always getting into trouble for talking or missed homework assignments — sat up a little straighter, folded my hands on the desks, smiled and began to believe in me (Rhapsody in Books).” Writing helped Woodson become more confident in herself and gave her an outlet to tell her stories and ideas.

Throughout Brown Girl Dreaming we also see references to the power of writing and how it can be used to overcome injustices:

“…and somewhere else, James Baldwin / is writing about injustice, each novel, / each essay, changing the world. / I do not yet know who I’ll be / what I’ll say / how I’ll say it . . ./ …I do not know if these hands will become Malcolm’s—raised and fisted / or Martin’s—open and asking / or James’s—curled around a pen (Woodson, 4-5).”

Woodson refers to writing as equally powerful to that of the spoken word by referencing James Baldwin and considers this as a potential future for herself. We see Gabi write about the things that she disagrees with through her Zines and later when she brings her writing to life through spoken work and how that empowers her. In Aristotle and Dante we see each of the boys find power in reading books and gaining insight and ideas that they can relate to from them. Dante and Aristotle each also utilize writing as an outlet, and we see this in Dante’s letters to Aristotle where he’s very honest and how that honesty allows him to better accept himself. We also learn about Dante’s drawings and how they provide him with a creative outlet to express how he sees the world. Similarly to these characters, Woodson seems to have chosen her career to express her stories and here she speaks more in depth about why it is she choose to become a writer:

“I think it’s important to remember that writing is a gift and our stories are gifts to ourselves and to the world and sometimes giving isn’t always the easiest thing to do but it comes back. You have to give it away to keep it — I know each time I put a story into the world, a part of it is stronger inside of me — I understand something on a deeper level, I appreciate someone just a little more, I am just that much more grateful for my life and my work. Yes, writing is not easy. But can any writer imagine NOT writing? (Rhapsody in Books)”

I think Woodson finds it both powerful and empowering to write stories, because as much as she does it for herself, her audience members each take away something unique from her characters and stories.

In both Gabi, a Girl in Pieces and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, the characters struggle both with their racial identities as Mexican-Americans as well as other trauma’s. Woodson addresses these topics in the interview with Rhapsody in Books:

RIB: What kind of effect do you feel that the gender of your protagonists has on the audience for your books? Do you see race or sexual orientation as being a factor?

JW: I think people are sometime reluctant to read outside of their own race. This is heartbreaking. I think some straight people are still afraid to even think about queer people – This is just silly. I think boys don’t always like to read books with female protagonist – I don’t even know what to say about this. But mainly, I try not to think about my readers as I write – I just think of my characters and myself – If they’re interesting to me, my hope is that they’ll be interesting to others as well.”

Writing has the power to cross many differences between people, if they would only give the story of someone different from themselves a chance. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe does a very good job of sort of sneaking up on you with it’s topic of gay identity and making you fall in love with the characters before even realizing that is where the story is going. This is a very good strategy for writers to utilize when they are trying to gain readers that might otherwise stop reading when they find out the story involves a gay romance. Of course, books shouldn’t need to hide the fact that they’re about progressive topics, but sometimes you have to sneak into peoples hearts to unlock the door to their brains. Another interesting tidbit from the interview with Rhapsody in Books that follows in the other books we’ve read so far is how the authors based their main characters off of themselves and when asked if she did this Woodson replied:

RIB: Do you write yourself into any of your stories, and if so, what character do you identify with the most?

JW: There’s me in every character I put on the pages (Rhapsody in Books).”

I think some of the best stories have a piece of the author’s own story within them.

Works Cited

Burrows, Alvina Treut. “Writing as Therapy.” Elementary English, vol. 29, no. 3, 1952, https://www-jstor-org.libproxy.siue.edu/stable/pdf/41383924.pdf?ab_segments=0%2Fdefault-2%2Fcontrol&refreqid=excelsior%3A790fd805a1155f349eb9e7c108b61eb0. Accessed 27 June 2019.

Jacqueline Woodson and Lydia Mann. Jacqueline Woodson Family of Sites. Jacqueline Woodson, 2002, https://www.jacquelinewoodson.com/. Accessed 26 June 2019.

Rhapsody in Books. “Sunday Salon – Interview with Award-Winning Author Jacqueline Woodson.” Rhapsody in Books Webblog, 13 Feb. 2011, WordPress, https://rhapsodyinbooks.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/sunday-salon-interview-with-award-winning-author-jacqueline-woodson/. 26 June 2019.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. Penguin Group, 2014.

The Nostalgia of Childhood in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

The opening poem, “All in a Golden Afternoon”, seems to be so essential to the text because it acts as context to why the story was told in the first place and to whom it was told. I only really understood this after reading this article which Professor DeSpain linked in her original post and another article which lends more context. They each reference the boat trip but the second article mentions not only Alice but also her sisters being present along with Lewis Carroll. This trip was where he first told the three sisters the story of Alice.

The three Liddell sisters. From left to right Edith, Lorina, and Alice (Dodgson).

The second and third stanzas are very interesting and humorous after realizing the context of having the three sisters on board while trying to tell a story. “To beg a tale of breath too weak / To stir the tiniest feather! / Yet what can one poor voice avail / Against three tongues together?” (9-12). The last two lines must refer to Mr. Dodgson telling the story and the three sisters interrupting or adding to the story while he did so. The first two lines are a bit harder to decipher. Perhaps he is referring to Alice, although that really doesn’t seem to fit since she is a very outspoken character, her voice is hardly weak. Maybe the real life Alice, Alice Liddell, was soft spoken, but honestly this really doesn’t fit either considering she’s the one who asked for the story to be written down by Mr. Dodgson in the first place. Could it be himself in which he refers to? Could Mr. Dodgson be the one who felt too weak to speak the tail of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? This seems to fit much better if you consider that Carroll called the story a “love-gift” (“Just Good Friends?”). It might’ve been hard for him to show such a fascination towards Alice Liddell as to tell an entire made up story about her, in front of her sisters no less.

The third stanza is very illuminating to how Carroll characterizes childhood because he refers to three different children, most likely the three Liddell sisters, and how they each react to his story telling. “Imperious Prima flashes forth / Her edict ‘to begin it’: / In gentler tones Secunda hopes ‘There will be nonsense in it!’ / While Tertia interrupts the tale / Not more than once a minute” (13-18). We see a parallel between these three depictions of children and the character Alice herself. Throughout Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland we see Alice rushing creatures to tell her stories, interrupting creatures, and kind of taking the nonsense as it comes and embracing it to some extent. “‘When we were little,’ the Mock Turtle went on at last, more calmly though still sobbing a little now and then, ‘we went to school in the sea. The master was an old Turtle–we used to call him Tortoise——‘ ‘Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn’t one?’ Alice asked. ‘We called him Tortoise because he taught us,’ said the Mock Turtle angrily. ‘Really you are very dull!'” (Carroll, 83). The Mock Turtle appears to be a creature with the head and feet of a cow, but the rest of his body resembling a turtle. And yet he refers to growing up going to school in the sea, so we assume he hasn’t been like this forever, but Alice doesn’t question these discrepancies at all, or the fact that turtles have school in the first place. She is more focused on the story the Mock Turtle is telling, and at a turtle rate all the same. Maybe this is why when she interrupts the Mock Turtle to simply ask about his teacher he calls her “dull.” Carroll seems to play around with what we perceive as “normal” in this interaction.

This could be considered an adult’s perspective of childhood in the sense that it’s somewhat flat. Alice almost feels like the typical “bratty girl” character who talks back, interrupting you before you’ve gotten your thought out. Bits and pieces of a round character show through as the story progresses but the overall impression I got was of a girl who didn’t know what was up from down, let alone who she was. “‘…I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is “Who in the world am I?”‘” (Carroll, 17-18). This was probably done on purpose, to make us question if the story is simply a metaphor for how it feels to grow up, trying to wade through the waters of the onslaught of adulthood without loosing your footing, only to realize that you’ve been an entirely different person and upside down the entire time.

The most remarkable feature of Alice seems to be her ability to accept the reality in front of her, along with questioning everything in the same instance. Earlier I referenced the passage with the Mock Turtle which applies here as well. We can see Alice accepting the reality that there is such a think as a Mock Turtle, but then question the fact that he called his teacher Tortoise even though the teacher was also a turtle. Of all the aspects of that interaction Alice picks such a seemingly simply question to ask compared to all the options, such as “How did you become a Mock Turtle?”, “Why are you crying constantly?”, and my personal favorite “You’re telling us about your schooling while we’re in Wonderland, how are you any less dull than I am?”

Works Cited

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. London, Penguin Classics, 1998.

Dodgson, Charles. Edith, Lorain & Alice Liddell. 1859. University of Virginia. Fixing Shadows: Still Photography. 29 May 2015.<http://people.virginia.edu/~ds8s/carroll/dodgson.html&gt;. Accessed 5 June 2019.

“Just Good Friends?” TheGuardian. 29 Oct. 2001. Web. 29 May 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/29/gender.uk&gt;.

“Understanding Concerns About Lewis Carroll” PBS. 6 Feb. 2017. Web. 6 June 2019. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/stories/articles/2017/2/6/understanding-concerns-about-lewis-carroll;.

Caitlin – Introduction Post

Hello! My name is Caitlin Schrank. I’m a computer science major here at SIUE and I’m working towards my literature minor as well! I’m working full time over this summer as a Digital Intern at Ameren, as well as taking Technical and Business Writing in July.

Me with one of my favorite short story books that I got last year.

Genres I like to read include romance, true crime, mystery, comedy, and self-reflecting/questioning works, etc.

I initially took Introduction to Literature to fulfill a general education requirement and fell in love with literature, analyzing works of writing, discussions, and reconnected with my love of reading.

This will be my fourth online English class that I’ve taken in college. I’ve also taken two other non English classes online before.

I’m expecting to learn lessons from this course that aren’t necessarily in the curriculum. I generally enjoy literature classes for how they challenge my beliefs and make me think about my perspective, in addition to allowing me to escape my reality by delving into the stories of others. I’m also expecting to learn about how to condense my thoughts into a shorter amount of written words. I think it can take more skill to say something profound with fewer words than to be extremely verbose.

I think an ideal student for this course would be someone who shows genuine interested in the content and puts towards a lot of effort in trying to interact both with fellow classmates but also the texts themselves. Also I think it’s important to have an open mind to ideas and opinions that you might not currently agree with or be familiar with.