“Modesty is invisibility…Never forget it. To be seen—to be seen—is to be…penetrated. What you must be girls, is impenetrable.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Welcome back to another educational post! Every once in a while, I do want to give you some knowledge to use in your everyday life. We’re going to revisit some novels and if you haven’t read these books, you should give them a try.
A Dystopian novel’s main goal is to show the need for change in the world usually dealing with political or societal problems. The functions of Young Adult Dystopia novels reflect what adults see as society’s ills which is undesirable. This leads to the need to forewarn young people and to inspire young adults to make a change and not repeat mistakes of the past. The functions of an Apocalypse novel are similar but its goals are to show the aftermath and survival after a disaster. An apocalyptic world starts off with a somewhat normal world, but then it turns into an abnormal one after disaster strikes. The book Grasshopper Jungle takes place after a world disaster and the rebuilding of the world is placed on the shoulders of main character, Austin Szerba. Reproduction with his girlfriend,
In the book, Grasshopper Jungle, Austin is the main character who represents young adults and he is fighting adulthood because he wants to stay in childhood as long as possible. It is nice that we got to see a boy being vulnerable but relatable for both genders. This whole book we get Austin’s perspective of life because the story is told through his diary entries. He shares his emotions, fears, hopes, and wishes in life, which is something we rarely see from males. He was dealing with the need of acceptance of being bisexual from society o Children want remain children but taking on the hard task like dealing with emotions, hinders them from being able to remain children.
I believer Grasshopper Jungle touches on the idea of Romance. Romance is what young readers are required to engage in. Austin’s idea of romance was interfering with his decision making and ability to reason. His judgement was very clouded. He liked to use previous historical events to life choices. He also uses those events to make comparisons to his life. For example, “Demonic infestations have a way of making guys feel not so horny, it’s in the Ealing Registry of Historical Homes, I pointed out,” (p. 27 e-text). It was interesting that Austin was so interested in history, because the past constrains what happens in the future. History is very important. History influence Austin so much so it was all he referred to. He felt that it was his job to influence people using history, so that mistakes were not repeated. When it came to history he was logical but when it came to his personal problems he was blind to it. “I read somewhere that human beings are genetically predisposed to record history. We believe it will prevent us from doing stupid things in the future. But even though we dutifully archived elaborate records of everything we’ve ever done, we also managed to keep on doing dumber and dumber shit,” (p. 7 e-text).
This book tells us that it is okay to stay a child and that you should not feel rushed to grow older; but the post-apocalyptic society wants Austin to grow up fast. Austin had a lot of big responsibilities that most children did not have to go deal with. Society had high expectations of him including fulfilling his duty as an expecting parent. He was forced to grow up quicker than others his age or he would have bad repercussions. his primary character fall is that he is lazy and he does not want to think about the consequences of his actions. It’s a warning to readers. Austin projects his fears onto Shann. The fears of what would happen if he goes against societies expectations and doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. Instead of running away to Eden with Robby like he wants to, he slowly realizes that he can no longer to that and need to grow up faster than necessary. I believe that readers can learn from this book that they need to stop requiring young adults to grow up before they are ready. They will not be prepared for the responsibilities and it is not fair to them.
Austin is at the age where his selfishness is understandable, but this aspect of him is not accepted by society anymore. “Shann is quietly pouting; no doubt hiding inside her bedroom. She does not like it when Robby and I go out in on our runs. But it is Robby’s birthday” (pg.385). He uses vainness’ to make up for not fully understanding himself. He lashes out at people instead of learning about who he is. Being a white male in a destroyed world, Austin is expected to reproduce and help with the responsibilities of rebuilding the world. The themes of Post-Apocalyptic novels are in agreeance with my essay, Gender in Dystopian, because of the many responsibilities that are placed on children. I also believe that the idea of maturity can play into adolescents being expected to take on the emotions of adults and they are also forced to take on adult-like obligations. Adults do not want children to grow up too fast, however, they believe that the children are old enough to take on some of their responsibilities for them.
Austin’s girlfriend, Shann, acts like his mom (responsibilities) but with his friend it is a childlike relationship “I continue to be torn between my love for Shann Collins and Robby Brees. But I no longer care to ask the question, what am I going to do,”. (pg. 382 e- text) Shann was also very inquisitive like a mother, “Why is Robby wearing your clothes and what happened to you and him,” (p. 29 e-text). She was mature and Austin was not ready for that. She was more mature in the way she thought and was upset that Austin could not realize that he was still immature. The push for every apocalyptic book is different in every book, and in this one, it was for Austin to reproduce to help humanity to start over.
I believe that both Young Adult dystopian novels and Post- Apocalyptic novels are a great vehicle for introducing adolescents to adult themes. The authors of these books are selective with their choice in characters and how they grapple with the world’s ideas and expectations.
Everyone has a stage of selfishness and it tends to be during those adolescent years. So, it doesn’t help when Austin is being pressured to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders when he just wanted to run away with Robby and live a carefree life. “It was reckless and wild, going out with Robby. It was just like everything Robby Brees and I ever did together for entire lives. Nobody else would come with us,” (pg. 383 e-text).
“If love dies, that’s when we’ve all truly died.”
― Keary Taylor, Eden
I’ve always stated that adolescents’ minds work differently when it comes to comprehending information. They enjoy looking at things in a wide-ranging way. In this instance, it would be “growing up”. Austin sees what all comes with growing up/ becoming and adult which puts him at a borderline of whether he wants to remain a kid or grow up. This may be because they are in that awkward stage of transitioning into an adult, meaning that they may still have a partial adolescent outlook. I also still believe that many adolescents may believe, they are mature and ready to take on adult responsibilities, they make in fact not be mentally or emotionally ready to step into that new role. Until Austin is ready, he is not going to want to take on all the adult endeavors that require responsibility.
Just like in Lord of the Flies, the reader gets to see a scenario in which adolescents are completely unsupervised and can observe how the adolescents act. Children’s minds are formed and molded. Austin is at the age where is mind is still being developed and the decisions he is making is selfish. He had moments of when thought logically but they were often interfered with his immaturity. “History never tells about people taking shits. I can’t for a moment believe that guys like Theodore Roosevelt or Winston Churchill never took a shit. History always abbreviates out the shit-taking and excess consonants,” (pg. 68 e-text).
These books help bring awareness to young adults on the concepts of having to mature more quickly than necessary because it is what society expects. This is a social ill that occurs in society a lot. resonate with adolescents because they are real world issues. For the most part, the messages in youth dystopian novels can help guide adolescents as they grow into adults. In the end, apocalypse books are focused on conformity of adult values and decision making and that is just what Austin had to do. He had to come to a decision of whether it was time for him to grow up or to remain a child until he was ready. This is what adults must learn. Let the children come to the realization that they need to grow up on their own.
Thank you for reading another post! I look forward to seeing you on the next one. Feel free to comment below, like, subscribe, and share this post with people who you know need to hear or read this.