By: Rachel Lyle, July 14th, 2017
Why The Tale of Despereaux is a young adult novel: I believe that the book The Tale of Despereaux is a young adult novel because it acknowledges that it is young adults who will be reading it and thus written for them in a way that they will understand, one way that it acknowledges it’s readers is by breaking the fourth wall and addressing the readers directly by talking straight to them, “But, reader, he was not smelling. He was listening, with his big ears, to the sweet sound that no other mouse seemed to hear.” (19).
Another way I see this book as being a young adult novel is through acknowledging the fact that the reader is still going through the process of becoming and adult and thus helps them to do this by asking questions of the reader and then instead of giving the answers straight to them letting the reader figure it out on their own. The book at the same time is also telling the reader that they can answer the question and that they know the answer even if they do not realize it, “At least Lester had the decency to weep at his act of perfidy. Reader, do you know what “perfidy” means? I have a feeling you do, based on the little scene that has just unfolded here. But you should look up the word in the dictionary, just to be sure.”(45).
It also when asking a question that the reader can’t and won’t be able to answer gives the answer for the reader and explains this answer without talking down to the reader,
And what was our own favorite member of the mouse community doing while the sound of the Mouse Council drum echoed through the walls of the castle? Reader, I must report that Furlough had not seen the worst of it. Despereaux sat with the princess and the king and listened to song after song. At one point, gently, oh so gently, the Pea picked up the mouse in her hand. She cupped him in her palm and scratched his oversized ears. (37)
The book also explains things that the reader might not understand at first when reading the book,
Have I mentioned that beneath the castle the was a dungeon? In the dungeon, there were rats. Large rats. Mean rats. Despereaux was destined to meet those rats. Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform. (25)
The book in many ways is a young adult novel because it helps the reader go through the “hero quest” of becoming an adult and helps them along the path to being an adult.
The idea of innocence in The Outsiders: One theme that I noticed come up quite a few times in The Outsiders os the idea of innocence and keeping that innocence for as long as you can. The first time this shows up is when Ponyboy is introducing the members of the gang he and his brothers are a part of, “It drives my brother Darrry nuts when I do stuff like that, ’cause I’m supposed to be smart; I make good grades and have a high IQ and everything, but I don’t use my head. Besides, I like walking.” (10).
Darry sees Ponyboy as innocent because he gets good grades in school and focuses on that rather than being involved in fighting the Socs the way his brothers and the rest of their gang do and he wants Ponyboy to stay this way and stay innocent and stay childlike for as long as he can and thus enjoy life more.
Another example of this is when Ponyboy tells Johnny a poem by Robert Frost about being young and innocent and how innocence is golden,
‘The mist was what was pretty,’ Johnny said ‘all gold and silver.’ ‘Uhmmmm,’ I said. trying to blow a smoke ring. ‘Too bad it couldn’t stay like that all the time.’ ‘Nothing gold can stay.’ I was remembering a poem I’d read once. ‘What?’
‘Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.’
Johnny was staring at me. ‘Where’d you learn that? that was what I meant.’ (107-108)
Johnny doesn’t really understand or comprehend what is meant by this poem until later in the hospital. He finally realizes that the poem is explaining innocence and how it doesn’t last even when we want it to, “‘Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold. . .’ The pillow seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died.” (201). He realized that the goldenness of early spring and early nature and it not being able to last because everything in nature has to mature, get old and die is like the goldenness of innocence. He also notices that Ponyboy is much much more innocent than he is because Ponyboy doesn’t get caught up in fighting with the gang the way he does and focuses more on bettering himself and getting good grades, so keeping his innocence. He realizes that he wants Ponyboy to keep doing this and keep his innocence as long as possible and the only way he knows how to do this while he lays there dying in the hospital is to tell Ponyboy to stay gold. He knows Ponyboy has more innocence and he knows this won’t last like the gold in the poem so he wants Ponyboy to make his innocence last as long as is humanly possible and so stay stay gold as long as humanly possible.
So the idea of innocence is one that sticks out and is brought up many times through out this book and most of the time that it comes up is through the idea of Ponyboy staying innocent and keeping his innocence as long as humanly possible.