Monday, April 29, 2013

World Building A to Z: Youth

This month, I'm writing about world building and setting. 

Youth: At the beginning of this month, one of my posts touched on how seniors are treated in a world.  Today, I'd like to look at the status of youth. Are young people considered "babies," and therefore denied authority or privileges?  Or are young people empowered in any way that would put them at an equal level with adults?

In Beverly Cleary's RAMONA FOREVER,  Ramona gets denied the privilege of seeing her newborn baby sister at the hospital because she is considered too young to be admitted as a visitor. 

In the movie, Finding Nemo, Nemo's status as a child fish, coupled by his slightly injured fin, causes his strict father to be overprotective of him. Nemo is so frustrated by his father's constant worrying that he yearns to rebel...which he does. 

In ENDER'S GAME, skilled young people can be very empowered. At a time when most kids are learning how to write the alphabet and finger paint, Ender is training to be a military commander. 

It is dangerous to hand over power to any child or adult who is naive and insecure. In the movie, Swing Kids, some of the Hitler Youth believe their membership in this group is evidence of their superiority. Their authority enables cruel and ruthless behavior; for example, a boy gets the Nazis to arrest his own father. 

What are other examples showing the status of youth in stories?

If you were given a chance to return to your childhood with no guarantee that you would get back to where you are now, would you take it?


Natalie Aguirre said...

I would definitely not go back to childhood. Mine wasn't very happy. I don't think kids are treated as babies but they do have to grow into more adult privileges and responsibilities.

Nick Wilford said...

I would like to go back to start writing properly earlier but I wouldn't like to miss out the chance to meet my wife.

I think how a society treats its children in a book can tell us a lot about that society.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah I would not want to go back, as change one thing and everything can go off the deep end.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Not a chance I would go back. I survived it once - that was enough.

Ghadeer said...

I think Harry Potter (yes, I am aware I have an obsession)is a great example of the power of youth and how much difference they can bring about the world.

John Wiswell said...

My favorite story about youth in recent memory was John Advidge Lindqvist's Let the Right One In. It's a theme right into the final sentence of the novel, about how hard and confusing it is, and how terrible children can be to one another. Surprising amount of empathy between the characters for fiction so caustic.

John at The Bathroom Monologues

Gina Gao said...

In my view, childhood has always been very boring. Now that I'm a teen, I can't want to get out and do what I can on my own. I wouldn't go back for anything.

Jay Noel said...

I think the reason why more adults read YA for two reasons: 1)Nostalgia 2)The drama

I was a high school teacher. Lots of drama.

Julia King said...

That is a definite No. I don't want to go through my past again. I want the now and the future. I sure love reading YA though because it can transport me back to the good old high school days, but I can close the cover of the book and be back in my 30's. haha

S.P. Bowers said...

No, I would not take it. There is too much to lose and honestly, being a teenager/kid wasn't much fun. There's no going back, only forward.

Anonymous said...

I remember how frustrating that was as a kid!!

Jill Haugh said...

Nope. But I'd take back my thirties...
~Just Jill

M Pax said...

I loved reading the Ramona books. She was a fun gal.

I wouldn't go back. Forward is the only way. :)

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Here are a few classics in which kids either grew up too fast, or not fast enough to suit themselves:

Lord of the Flies
Member of the Wedding
East of Eden
Oliver Twist
David Copperfield
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Little Women

M.K. Louie said...

I've made plenty of poor decisions in my youth. I would love to go back in time and 'correct' my wrongs. However, knowing where I am today and where I'm headed for tomorrow... this is too much of a risk to go down that path.

Learn from the past. Apply the wisdom to the present. Hope for the future.

Status of youth is always an interesting topic. I look at my favorite childhood book: James & the Giant Peach, and how one thinks of himself when his parents pass on. And how he regains hope and love by befriending some fantastic creatures and experiencing a magical adventure. For better or for worse, people shape us and so does our journey. That's the most important aspect I've learned from James' childhood.

Anonymous said...

No. I like the wisdom, power, and freedom I have now.

Cynthia said...

I appreciate your responses and those of you who offered me glimpses into what your youth was like.

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