Divergent

All posts tagged Divergent

When reading books such as The Hunger Games and Little Brother in class, I noticed a common theme of teenage defiance, which got me thinking. What if middle schoolers read Little Brother and saw Marcus as a role model? What if they started poking around the dark web? These kids could get into some non-fictional trouble fast.

From there, I started thinking about authors’ intended messages in young adult dystopian novels and whether or not middle schoolers are really picking up on these deeper meanings. To figure that out it is important to figure out who is reading this book and how it is being read. For example, a college graduate politician is going to read and understand The Hunger Games much differently than a middle schooler at the beach.

I wanted to know how the readers who understood the author’s intended commentary responded. Were they so disgusted by the corrupt government in Little Brother that they started working for NSA to fight the system from within? Or did they get disillusioned with the world and decide to hide away in the woods?

Based on the research, I formed a thesis: Young adult dystopian novels, if presented correctly to their audience, have the potential to inspire teenagers to have a passion for social justice; however, if left to their own devices many will only read the novel at face value.

I will then launch into examples from novels with poignant commentary on society, and the way that it is often misunderstood. My first example is The Hunger Games. While Suzanne Collins intended for the novel to be a criticism of capitalism and consumerism in developed countries, it was published so soon after the Twilight phenomenon that the teenagers were still wrapped up in love triangles, and thus “Team Peeta” and “Team Gale” were born. It seemed that the movie producers and the internet users had grossly over simplified this novel and glossed over the sheer horror of the games. Ironically following the example of the capitol. In my presentation, I will highlight two other examples: Divergent and The Red Queen in which novel’s commentary on society was also derailed.

I go on to argue that most young adult dystopia novels could also be classified as coming of age novels. This means that as protagonist loses their childhood innocence and struggles to come to terms with the unfairness of the world, teenage readers are as well. Because the protagonist often refuses to accept the flaws of the world, they are serving as a role model to the readers. Therefore, even if teenagers are missing the author’s intended message, they are in fact learning to question the world around them and notice the injustice.

To back up this argument, I then cite references I have found throughout my research and explain their arguments. I will also reveal the results of the twitter poll I took last week. Get excited!

 

Sources:

https://imgflip.com/tag/hunger%20games%20meme

http://howardyoung.info/lsithkey-hunger-games-meme-peeta.html

http://dilbert.com/search_results?terms=Security

https://webpages.scu.edu/ftp/zlee/littlebrotherhome.html

10 Hunger Games Memes That Reflect Our Lives

Throughout this semester, we’ve been reading and discussing countless elements of Young Adult Dystopian literature, from timelines, to love stories, scientific advancement, and so on; but, have we ever stopped to ask why specifically young adult literature? Is there something special about these characters that defines an entirely different genre? In my conference presentation and research paper, I’ll be discussing why young adults have acted as powerful enough characters to make this genre as popular and profitable as it is.

As visible in this graphic, following the publication of The Hunger Games in 2008, the percentage of literature with a dystopian theme skyrocketed, many of the most popular of these publications containing young adult characters, such as M.T. Anderson’s Feed, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent. These stories showcase young adults, which I’ll refer to as 15-24-year-olds, facing similar problems and pressures to what we face in our everyday lives. They fight for what they believe in in a world that is different, yet not completely unrecognizable from ours OR impossible for ours to become. What draws such a connection between these characters and audiences of all ages are the relatable aspects of life that readers can relate to through their youth, and how relevant many of the issues the characters face are to the youth population today.

One interesting aspect of young adult literature that I want to elaborate on in my argument is how intensely the following of such a relatable character can influence trends in the genre. For example, the Divergent series was profitable enough to be turned into a movie, even though critics speculate that the book’s plot was so poor that it must’ve been written merely for money-making purposes (Dean, 48-49). This book wouldn’t have been able to connect to so many people had they not become attached to the main character and the challenges she faces, and even though it was not necessarily critically acclaimed, it did its job of connecting to people of all ages through a young character. My presentation is not a case study on Divergent, however, but rather it is a study of how characters similar to those in the aforementioned texts are shaped around their environments to become characters that everybody seems to want to read about.

Works Cited:

Brown, Patrick. “The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games [INFOGRAPHIC].”Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

Dean, Michelle. “Our Young-Adult Dystopia.” New York Times Magazine, Feb 02 2014, pp. 48-49. New York Times; ProQuest Central; ProQuest Newsstand; Research Library, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/1495412558?accountid=11107.

Why are dystopias so attractive in the world of literature today? I can’t speak for the millions around the world who read them, but for myself, dystopias have drawn me in with their projected futures based on the mirroring of certain aspects of our own world’s brokenness, along with the character development a dystopia requires of its protagonist(s). There are many more reasons than the two above, however, given the subjectiveness of each answer, I will be giving my personal reasonings.

The majority of dystopian societies have strong ties to certain, similar aspects of our own westernized part of the world. Take the 1984 for example, the government is monitoring every citizen and the news broadcasts very biased, or even untrue, information. Sound familiar? The Hunger Games depicts a future that could very easily become our own should similar events take place. Our generation has become desensitized to the kind of violence and lack of morality that would leave past generations aghast, which would make the transition from our current society into a similar dystopian one easier than we might think.

It is said that hard times bring out one’s true nature. This is evident in many of today’s dystopian novels. The protagonist experiences deep, personal challenges and is forced to really discover who they are. The character development in the dystopian genre is one of my favorite’s because of how intense a process it typically is. Take the Divergent series for example – Tris Prior evolves from a reserved, slightly timid 16-year old into a strong young woman who knows what it means to sacrifice for others and have others sacrifice for you. Watching a character shift into someone with more depth, who has experienced hard times and yet still carries on, this is one of the most intriguing aspects of the dystopian genre.

The basic idea of a dystopia is a utopia gone awry. Usually, the people of influence within the dystopia manipulate the citizens into believing it is utopia through means of propaganda or media censorship. While the totalitarian government which most dystopias inhabit can appear perfect at first glance, upon further review it is easy to see the flaws in the society.

When another genre is added to a dystopian novel, the underlying warnings or agendas of that novel are not necessarily changed, but instead another facet is added to the ever-complex idea. For example, a sci-fi dystopian gives the reader a terrible glimpse into a future where scientific discoveries aren’t regulated. Often, this advanced technology is used to instill fear, control, and further the power of the government.

Apocalyptic dystopias are slightly different than Sci-Fi dystopias because, while sci-fi dystopias use futuristic technology to ensure compliance, apocalyptic dystopias tend to offer protection more than anything. For example, in Divergent the worst thing that could happen would be to become factionless, and without the aid of the government

Romantic dystopias are interesting though. Because dystopias diminish the individual’s control, instead the government oversees almost all aspects of a citizen’s life. Therefore, love threatens the government’s control because it is unregulated and threatens the absolute power of the government. In dystopian books, such as Matched, the government has gone so far as to determine who their citizens are to love. Therefore, minimizing the threat of individuality by lack free choice. Delirium by Lauren Oliver, goes one step further in that the government tries to prevent love all together. One of my favorite books, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, has a similar approach, but instead of just withholding the feeling of love from their citizens, everyone is completely drugged, devoid of any emotions or individual thoughts. While this works well in preventing conflict and keeping the government intact, it is certainly no way to live.

A dystopian young adult novel has a younger demographic, so the content of the book can’t be quite as graphic as that of a book like the Handmaid’s Tale. However, because the author cannot be explicit, darker plots are often mentioned in passing at and left to the reader’s discretion. For example, in Mockingjay, Finnick Odair admits that he was sold for prostitution by President Snow to the horror of many readers. However, instead of explaining or exploring that story any further, Suzanne Collins is restricted by the young adult demographic and only mentions it once.

 

Citations:

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/finnick-odair/images/38065329/title/finnick-gif-mockingjay-part-1-fanart

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/divergent/images/37886565/title/factionless-fanart

http://capitolcouture.pn/post/19403920380/men-of-the-capitol-coming-soon-the-capitol

http://makeagif.com/bq3mas