The Top Coming-of-Age Novels

 

coming of age in literature

A coming-of-age story is a genre of literature that focuses on the growth of a protagonist from youth to adulthood ("coming of age"). Coming-of-age stories tend to emphasize dialogue or internal monologue over action, and are often set in the past or have adults looking back into the past. A stunning example of the classic coming-of-age novel A lost classic of American literature, Wait Until Spring, Baldini tells the story of Arturo Baldini, a year-old dreamer who can’t wait to escape the confines of his life in small-town Colorado during the Great Depression. Evocative of a time with great parallels to our own, Fante. Welcome! •Introductions (name & why you chose to attend this short course) Roadmap: •Goals for our session & this month of sessions •Overview of coming of age genre •Approaches for interpreting literature •Review and discussion of short pieces from “House on Mango Street” •Questions for active reading in preparation for our next.


Literary Themes Coming Of Age


Most scholars agree on a standard definition of the coming-of-age narrative: the coming-of-age narrative: Simply put, it follows the development of a child or adolescent into adulthood. This pattern typically features a young protagonist—either male or female—who undergoes a troubled search for an adult identity by process of trials, coming of age in literature, experiences, and revelations.

While there is agreement on a standard working definition of a coming-of-age narrative, there is little agreement among scholars on the constituent coming of age in literature of these coming of age in literature. James Hardin, a theorist of genre studies, argues that there can be no agreement about the elements of a coming-ofage narrative because of the various meanings of the word Bildung in German.

Other interpretations of the German word Bildung, such as initiation, education, and building, have served to further complicate understanding of the coming-of-age narrative. In addition to a debate over the origin of the term, coming of age in literature, other scholars argue over the age group of protagonists coming of age in these texts.

Most 18th- and 19th-century protagonists featured in these novels came of age in their midto- late teenage years. Throughout the 20th century, however, the range in years for a coming-of-age narrative widened from this age group to include protagonists in their early to mids. It is for this reason that the genre studies scholar Barbara White limits the definition of a coming-of-age narrative to focus on protagonists between the ages of 12 and Additionally, in the latter part of the 20th century, the coming of age in literature of anthropologists, such as Arnold van Gennup and Margaret Mead, have added to the debate over the elements of a coming-of-age narrative.

Through their research in rites of passage and social development and structure, the works of anthropologists such as van Gennup and Mead allow scholars to examine the sociocultural implications of these narratives.

It is the sociocultural implications that cause the most debate among scholars. Indeed, since a coming-of-age narrative is dependent on a quest for an adult identity, this narrative is closely linked to other areas of identity development, coming of age in literature, such as gender, race, social class, coming of age in literature, and national identity see nationalism, coming of age in literature.

In the novel, a young Huck accompanies Jim, a runaway slave, on a trip down the Mississippi River to reach coming of age in literature free North. Thus, the socially acceptable and expected thing for Huck to do would be to turn Jim in to Miss Watson, and it is the deviation from this expectation that Huck believes will condemn his soul.

The Huck Finn example also serves as a way to highlight three additional features of the comingof- age narrative. One of these features is the loss of childhood innocence. The consequence of his decision marks his transition from childhood to adulthood. Because of his experiences and this decision, Huck realizes that he may be outcast from his society, as he has deviated from its expected adult norms, and he will no longer be able to go back to live his previous lifestyle of barefooted, pipesmoking truancy.

This deviation from expected norms highlights another feature of the coming-of-age narrative: the realization of social expectations and norms. To once again use the Huck Finn example, Huck fully realizes the implications of his coming of age in literature He considers himself damned and acknowledges that he will be unable to fully participate in the adult world because of this violation.

As such, he coming of age in literature able to recognize the social, adult world now laid out before him. While this realization further distances Huck from his childhood innocence, it also presents him with a choice: Either accept this adult world and conform to its norms and standards or decide on self-exile. Huckleberry Finn, of course, chooses the latter, as he decides to light out for the territories of the American West rather than conform to the rigid coming of age in literature obligations demanded by pre—Civil War rural Missouri.

His decision to leave is rooted in another choice: to accept a socially constructed identity, or to construct a personal sense of identity for oneself. While this idea is one of the oldest and most common themes of literature, when examined through the lens of a coming-of-age narrative, it takes on additional weight. Not all coming-of-age protagonists are as fortunate as Huck Finn, though.

For some, their gender, race, and class serve as impediments to a sense of freedom. As the feminist scholar Rachel Blau DuPlessis observes, most 19th-century female protagonists have two options presented before them when coming of age: marriage, the socially acceptable option for young women; or death, the end result for those young women who deviate from socially expected norms.

Race and class also serve as factors in these narratives. When McCandless realizes the limitations of the options set before him—continued graduate studies, a position in a well-paying job in the business world—he renounces his previous materialistic life and sets off on the roads of America in an attempt to discover who he truly is. National character is also an important factor in coming-of-age narratives. Coming of age in literature Lewis, have argued that the coming-of-age narrative is one of the most dominant narratives in American literature.

For these scholars, a sense of history, or lack thereof, is key to their view of the importance of the coming-of-age narrative in American literature.

At the heart of this contention is the argument that the American national identity shares several key characteristics with the coming-of-age narrative. His theory of the American Adam states that American culture is constantly going back to beginnings and new starts, an attempt to revert to a lost childhood or return to a forgotten Eden. This theory, according to Lewis, is at the center of most American literature—a constant return to youth, with an emphasis on the experiences, revelations, and trials inherent in a coming-of-age narrative.

Like Lewis, Ihab Hassan sees the idea of innocence as a conscious denial of American history, but he contends that the denial is also firmly rooted in political ideology. The focus on a wide-eyed, naive innocence of each generation defining itself is not just a literary trope for Hassan; rather, it is deeply enmeshed in an ideology that offers no roots, no genealogies, and no sense of a permanent and static identity.

For Leslie Fiedler, this focus on coming-ofage narratives underscores the preoccupation with youth found in American culture.

Fiedler argues that this desire to return to a childlike, Edenic state is predicated on the idea that the American national character is constantly fluid and dynamic, youthful and energetic. To allow the national character to grow static and permanent would force American culture to grow old, and perhaps grow up. The coming-of-age narrative is quite simple to define; however, the implications of that definition are numerous and wide-ranging.

What began as a way to fictionalize how a child became an adult became complicated throughout the centuries by other issues. Race, class, coming of age in literature, and gender all play a pivotal role in how a youth is expected to grow into an adult in various societies. Furthermore, the acceptance or rejection of social obligations and duties is another factor in how teens grow into adults.

All of these factors expand a relatively benign textbook definition into a wide-ranging, thoroughly complex theme. View all posts by bookworm. This is your brain on Jane Austen. I am very appreciative of some of the ides that coming of age in literature piece has enlightened me about, cheers xxx.

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Coming Of Age Books

 

coming of age in literature

 

A stunning example of the classic coming-of-age novel A lost classic of American literature, Wait Until Spring, Baldini tells the story of Arturo Baldini, a year-old dreamer who can’t wait to escape the confines of his life in small-town Colorado during the Great Depression. Evocative of a time with great parallels to our own, Fante. Define coming of age. coming of age synonyms, coming of age pronunciation, coming of age translation, English dictionary definition of coming of age. n 1. the moment when a person or thing reaches an important stage of development 2. All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference. In genre studies, a coming-of-age story is a genre of literature, film, and video that focuses on the growth of a protagonist from youth to adulthood ("coming of age"). Coming-of-age stories tend to emphasize dialogue or internal monologue over action, and are often set in the past. The subjects of coming-of-age stories are typically teenagers.