SILPAKORN UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, HUMANITIES, AND ARTS, Vol 14, No 1 (2014)

The Portrayal of Protagonists and Their Aesthetic Relationships in Children’s Adventure Novels

Kevalin Stevens




Abstract


Traditional criticism of the adventure genre tends to focus only on stereotypical depictions of protagonists’ static identities, their unequal relationships with other characters and the location as a static place the protagonists travel through on their journeys. This research does not discard previous criticism but further analyzes and underscores dynamic and positive nuances that explain these stereotypical depictions in the adventure genre. This research aims to investigate how protagonists develop their identities and their relationships with others in six realistic adventure novels for children published between 2000 through 2010, and which were awarded The Newbery Medal in the United States. It has emphasis on: 1) the portrayal of the protagonists, through the use of Bakhtinian “aesthetic” and undesirable
relationships, which the protagonists develop with other characters, and 2) places which help construct or obstruct the dynamic identities of the protagonists in conjunction with their aesthetic relationships. Through the integration of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the Aesthetic Relationship and the interpretive framework of cultural geography, the findings reveal that
protagonists socially and spatially construct dynamic identities and develop aesthetic relationships with others within a cultural context as long as a powerful and coercive social hegemony is lax or absent. However, they fail to do so in a cultural context within such rigid social systems.

Key Words: Adventure; Aesthetic; Bakhtin; Protagonists; Space

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