After

All posts tagged After

Katniss Everdeen returning to the 75th Annual Hunger Games with other victors.

A common theme I have found in many YA dystopias is that the young adults involved in the novel are, at times, accused and punished for crimes they did not commit.  For example, Katniss Everdeen in the The Hunger Games is forced to endure the Games again, Octavia in The 100 is put in prison for being born, and the students at Central High in After must undergo the same strict rules as Pleasant Valley underwent, after the school shooting at Pleasant Valley. With that in mind, after reading After and hearing of the horrific conditions the students of Central High endured because of a shooting that occurred in another school fifty miles away, I began to wonder, what happens mentally to students who undergo punishment for crimes they never committed?

I know of a student who was taking a math exam at his high school, in which he was not allowed to have any notebooks or his book bag in the classroom with him during the exam.  He, without thinking, brought a notebook with him to class and laid it down a few desks away from his desk just to be safe.  During the exam, his teacher took the notebook that was laying a few desks away.  After the exam was over, the teacher took the notebook to the principal to have the principal determine what the outcome for the student would be.  The student was accused of cheating and given a zero for the exam and had to spend two hours in detention.  The student was devastated.  Anytime the subject was brought up, he would get tears in his eyes and would just confess that he messed up by having the notebook, but confessed he never cheated.

Octavia from The 100. She was punished (and her mom was floated) for being born.

The psychological aspect of treating a person inappropriately because of a crime he or she did not commit is, at times, worse than committing the crime.  Students that receive bad grades or have detention because of something that happened to them can take a negative toll on that student.  In After, Tom’s character changed as the novel goes on and as the situation at Central High continues to worsen.  In the beginning, we see that Tom is a fun, mischievous, and relaxed student who does not truly enjoy school, but endures and makes it fun with his friends, while he can.  However, as the year goes on, we begin to see a shift in Tom’s attitude.  He becomes irritated and does not enjoy being around anyone as much as he used to; he can’t stand school and eventually gets away from it all.

With all this in mind, my current assumptions about prosecution are swayed towards believing that there are negative implications that come with students who are treated wrongly for crimes they did not commit.  Moreover, with more research to come, I believe it will become more clear as to what the actual results are of students who undergo punishment for crimes they did commit, and crimes they did not commit.

Works Cited

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. NY, NY, Scholastic Press, 2009.

Francine, Prose. After. New York, NY, Harper Collins Publishers, 2003.

Rothenberg, Jason, et al. “Pilot.” The 100, CW, 19 Mar. 2014.

Propaganda is an interesting tool. Like paved road strongly implies where to drive, propaganda is media that strongly implies what to think. It is used to direct people to believe a biased idea or point of view. Often time, propaganda is seen as lies.

I’m currently reading a YA Dystopian novel titled “After” by Francine Prose. The book is based around the fact that school policies at Central High have dramatically changed after shootings at a nearby school, Pleasant Valley. The administration of the school suddenly and quite swiftly set up new security measures around the school to “ensure the safety” of the students. These measures include metal detectors, bag checks, banning the color red, banning any talk of harming others, etc. Any violators of the rules are sent to “Operation Turnaround”, behavior correction camps.

The book seems heavily influenced by questionable “security” measures that our government has taken due to attacks that are close to home, but not close enough to call for certain measures. The way the protagonist Tom describes going to school is “going through airport security, but every day”.

These measures however are justified in the school and town by the following:

  • The killings at Pleasant Valley are upsetting and tragic for us all
  • Illegal drugs were involved in the shootings at Pleasant Valley
  • Central High will have a happy and peaceful future
  • It’s for our own safety and protection

And more to come… (I haven’t finished the book)
The reasons listed do indeed justify concern and perhaps action, but do not totally warrant the extensive measures that Central High is imposing. I think that is a major characteristic about propaganda; it is contrived and stretched out thin to mask actual motives. Propaganda sometimes is a lie that is created to turn that lie into a truth.

Specifically, I want to focus on how Central High plays the proximity and tragedy cards often in any of their propaganda. The administration incessantly reminds the students how close Pleasant Valley was to Central High, and how the tragedy affects everyone dramatically, not just Pleasant Valley. Though it may be true that the shootings were nearby and a disappointing thing to happen, it did not call for the color red to be banned, or drug tests to be performed every practice.

Francine Prose reminded me with this story to be aware of the propaganda that affects us in our modern world. Safety is always a priority, but we have to gauge whether or not we want our privacy, rights, and freedoms to come before safety.