May 24, 2012

Young Adult Literature: The Class (Day 14)

"Who here is really sure about what happened in the robbery? I'm not sure, and I've read it three or four times!"

Spoilers ahead for Walter Dean Myers' Monster.

Fun fact: the first thing we talked about was the cover.

See, the cover of Monster presents one interpretation of the book, but the awards on the cover "muck up the interpretation," so to speak. It gives it a glamor that the actual book itself didn't want to present.

Shame on you, award seals!

But after our moment of coverlove, we jumped into talking about why Steve used the screenplay to document his life rather than a regular journal or something.

You know what that means? List time!

  • It was Steve's way of coping with the loss of his innocence. It allows for detachment and new judgement, and separates him from reality without losing touch from his story.
  • It acts as a counterpoint to his diary -- introspection, without stepping outside of one's self.
  • It establishes a trusting relationship with the audience, following the classic rule of, 'Show, not tell.'
  • A screenplay is forced to confine to expectations of form; Steve is confined to the expectations and stereotypes of race.

We talked about the importance of the typeface in the screenplay sections versus the diary sections, which I loved because I'm a fontwhore.

And then we talked about the plot, and how it's handled.

Steve uses the screenplay to go back in time and show different things that happened, usually coming back to his trial before jumping to the next bit.. We see how his life is affected by perspective and by who has the power -- a concept that's constantly destabilizing. Or something.

I just know that it treats guilt and innocence as something that can change, depending on the point of view of the person.

"The novel treats guilt and innocence as discourses. As discourses, they're concepts that shift in meaning depending on who has the power."

We ended the class by accidentally making parallels to Monster and the Treyvon Martin case, not in terms of actions but in terms of how race is perceived.

Rather than get into the nitty-gritty of that conversation -- mainly because I didn't take notes and I don't remember it well -- here's a Daily Show clip.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
C.N.I.: Cable News Investigators - Hoodie Threat
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Next class, we tackle Skellig by David Almond!

Did you miss a class?:
(Day 1)
(Day 2)
(Day 3)
(Day 4)
(Day 5)
(Day 6)
(Day 7)
(Day 8)
(Day 9)
(Day 10)
(Day 11)
(Day 12)
(Day 13)


  1. Whoa, that graph is intimidating. The book sounds really fascinating though. Thanks for introduction to it. (And it really wasn't too spoilery!)

  2. I had to read this back in high school and wasn't its biggest fan. I think if I read it now and had a class dedicated to analyzing it I'd get more out of it than I did.

  3. I like the thoughts on why the form works with the content.

  4. Just discovering this series on your blog. How fun and what a cool idea! It's like a sneak peek into your class.

  5. I hated this book as a teen but loved it when I read it again for my YA class. I've heard this is a great audiobook because of its format. I need to try it out.


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