Three Protagonist Characters

8 August 2016

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This essay mainly concentrates on differences between teenage boys, problems they deal with and boys’ relationship with adults. Most experts of young adults’ literature agreed upon characteristics that have historically defined the genre that a protagonist is a teenager and events revolve around the protagonist and his struggle to resolve conflict (Pam, p. 49). In short stories discussed the three main characters are teenage boys. They differ from each other in their age, appearance and behaviour.

All boys in stories are of different age, Charles is from eight to thirteen years old, Peter age is not directly sad, but he is at age that his father ‘’wants me [he] to learn to drive’’ (Tuohy, p. 124) and finally, the third boy, whom name is not mentioned, is 18 years old: ‘’they had been studying for ‘A’ levels together’’ (‘A’ levels – a British exam taken in particular subject, usually in the final year of school at age of 18) (MacLaverty, p. 110, 121). The narrator tells the story from his childhood flashbacks when he was a very young boy.

Age differences show distinct perspective on these boys’ behaviours. The appearance of the boys’ are also described dissimilar. Peter’s look is represented as it is not important, the narrator just comments on his voice: ‘’Peter’s voice thrum like a slack guitar string’’ (Tuohy, p. 124). This simile allows the reader to create a visual portrait of adolescent boy. In Bernard MacLaverty’s short story the boy’s appearance is also not explained. However, Penelope Lively in her story describes Charles appearance in detail: ‘’The child had black hair, slicked down smooth to his head.

His ears, too large, jutted out…laced with tiny, delicate veins. His clothes had the shine and crease of newness’’ (Lively, p. 102). It is evident that it was taken grate care of his look to show the importance of Charles’s appearance in the story. Moreover, the behaviours of the boys separate them from one another. Charles through the entire story says no word, he blocks with a wall of silence. Only from his facial expressions the author allows the reader to understand the boy: ‘’His face is haggard with anticipation’’ (Lively, p. 105).

It shows that Charles is unhappy and miserable. Another character Peter in the story is acts like a typical adolescent boy who is not very friendly with adults: ‘’Please don’t always try to shut me out, Peter’’ (Touhy, p 124). This passage shows that Peter is rude and he disagrees with adults. The third character is a boy in his flashbacks of his childhood, he is interested in everything that it is not familiar with him, he wants to know everything: ‘’What is this? / Who is that in uniform? / Was your friend killed in the war? ’’ (MacLaverty, p. 114).

All these questions create the image of the young boy who is nosey and importunate. ‘’Young adult authors and publishers know that adolescents can be impatient‘‘ (Pam, p. 64) for that reason authors have to create different characters and the differences they all have are making their personalities more understandable to young adults‘ literature readers. According to Pam (p. 63) the issues discussed in teenage literature are morality and religion and the modern-day novel, however, can browbeat the reader with a social issue. Teenagers deal with all types of problems in their adolescence period.

In these short stories protagonists deal with different problems more frequently related with social issues. For instance, in ‘’Secrets’’ the young boy confront the problem of betrayal and deception, he is the one who is betraying others. Nosey boy reads his aunt’s letters that he is not allowed to: ‘’You are a dirt, and always will be dirt. I shall remember this till the day I die’’ (MacLaverty, p. 119). He offends his aunt by disobeying her will. The boy betrays his aunt and by this action he shows that he is too young to be reliable.

In the short story ‘’Next Term, We’LL Mash You’’ Charles faces the problems more related to teenagers, it is bulling. Charles is threatened by boys of new school: ‘’Next term, we’ll mash you, we always mash new boys’’ (Lively, p. 105). This phrase shows that Charles is no exception, he will be bullied like other children and they just warn Charles what he could expect. In the third story ‘’The Licence’’ the main problem Peter deals with is adolescence. It is a difficult period in boy’s life as he is no longer a child and not quite an adult.

Peter has a lot to cope with in his life because of the recent death of his mother: ‘’He hid under his handkerchiefs the photograph of his mother, and the letter she had written to him before shie died’’ (Tuohy, p. 127). Peter hides the letter because he does not want everyone to know what pain he is feeling, for teenagers it is common to hide their feelings in order not to get everyone’s attention. To conclude, problems discussed in the texts are often used in young adults’ literature, they are as follows: bulling, betrayal and adolescence.

The teenagers’ stages in life when they are feeling the most misunderstood are depicted. Relationship between adults and teenagers are the most difficult because they do not understand each other. In addition, all three boys in the three different stories disagree and misapprehend with grown-ups. Firstly, in the story ‘’Next Term, We’LL Mash You’’ the relationship between Charles and his parents do not exist, his mother is asks him all kinds of questions but never hears the answer.

Parents do not care about Charles willing, they decide to send him to school before listening to his opinion, and just after agreement the mother ask politely: ‘’Would you like to go there, Charles? ’’ (Liveli, p. 105) even they have already decided to send him. Treating child as he is not worth an opinion, makes parents heedless and careless. Furthermore, in ‘’The Licence’’ Peter is not understand by adults, his aunt claims that he is ‘’[…] just a child’’ (Tuohy, p. 125) although his father is telling him ‘’[…] to learn to drive’’ (Tuohy, p. 124).

This shows how two adult characters are treating Peter differently and seeing him in different points of view, as a child and a grown up. Finally, in ‘’Secrets’’ the boy is treated by his aunt with care: ‘’She would sit with him on her knee, her arms around him and holding the page flat with her hand’’ (MacLaverty, p. 111), she covers the boy with love and solicitude. The aunt’s behaviour changes after the boy reads her letters without her permission: ‘’Get out, get out of my room’’ (MacLaverty, p. 118). She is mad on the boy because he defy to her.

Aunt changes immediately and shouts on the boy, because he is just a young boy not an adult and she does not count him as an equal. To conclude, adults’ relationships with teenagers are complicated, the adults consider teenagers as not equal to them, as they do not understand them and do not stand well with each other. To sum up, young adults’ literature analyse problems that teenagers’ frequently deal with. The authors of three short stories discuss issues of teenager characters and reveal how every protagonist character deal with problems they have to face in their adolescence life.

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