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Depiction of Maturity Through Adversity in Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

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Jasper Jones, a novel written by Craig Silvey, is set in a small Western Australian town in the mid-1960s and is a great example of what a Bildungsroman is. Although the novel is set almost 60 years ago, it still provides relevant information about how identity is shaped through adversity and still relates to real world struggles in current day Australia. This novel features many characters who have grown in maturity after hardships faced with the disappearance of Laura Wishart. Three notable characters in this novel who have endured many hardships through their youth include Charlie Bucktin, his friend Jeffrey Lu who is faced with discrimination and the Corrigan scapegoat Jasper Jones.

Jasper Jones the scapegoat of Corrigan, has demonstrated mass character growth through adversity. Jasper has grown up with a drunken father which forces Jasper to quickly grow. In the novel Jasper has become a person who has to rob out of necessity, because his drunken father does not provide the necessary support Jasper needs such as food, clothing and so forth. This forms his identity to be more independent and self-sustainable.

Unfortunately In Australia this still holds true. Children whose parents are alcoholics are 4 times more likely to be neglected. 

Jasper is also marginalized in Corrigan, being blamed for all the town’s problems because of his aboriginal heritage. “And no matter how clear their own child’s guilt, parents ask immediately: Were you with Jasper Jones?’. 

Jasper being blamed for the wrongdoings of others has changed his identity to not talk to or trust anyone, forcing Jasper to law low. To this day people blame each other for others wrongdoings either to have an answer quickly or because consequences do not want to be faced. Jasper Jones growing up with a drunken father and scapegoated for others wrongdoings. Has lead Jasper to become independent and have very little trust for others. Showing how identity is shaped through adversity.

Jeffrey Lu, one of the few Asians in Corrigan. Has shown changes in his identity through hardships. At the time the book is set the Vietnam war was raging fiercely and Australian troops were being sent to fight. This leads many Australians to have a negative view on Asians especially the Vietnamese. In the novel Jeffrey Lu is often bullied because of this. And is called cong by the people in town. This enduring racism that Jeffery faces on a daily basis has taught Jeffery to not take all the insults to heart. Even though Jeffery’s maturation is not seen in the novel because Jeffery has grown up in this environment, we do see how he deals with tough times. Jeffery overcomes insults by trying to bounce positive energy of Charlie to raise his mood.

“What’s that Chuck? I’m the greatest?”. 

Even in Australia today racism still exist due to conflict, especially against people from middle eastern countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Typically being called terrorists, Arabs, and even being called a Muslim is an insulting slur. Jeffery also has to deal with the struggles of having Asian parents in a predominately white town. Jeffery has seen his family been disrespected time after time. Such as watching his mother being burned from hot tea.

“She slapped her cup up…scalding her skin”.

Because Jeffery is surrounded by this ongoing abuse he has learned how to react to these situation accordingly.. Jeffery walks up to his mother and says “Ma we should go now”.

Jeffrey’s reaction is extremely mature and calm. Racism against other people ending with physical violence, is still a common theme to this day. People who are of different physical appearance and of non-English speaking cultures are approximately 50 times more likely to be a victim of Racial Violence. In current day Australia racism much like what Jeffery and his family have faced is still existent. Jeffrey Lu is faced with both verbally and physical racism. The transition of Jeffery’s identity is not seen in the novel, however Jeffery’s reaction to tough situations is extremely calm and mature.

Charlie Bucktin one of the main protagonist in Jasper Jones, matures a great deal in how he interacts with other characters in the novel. Charlie learns this through his parents failing marriage. As Charlie’s Mother (Ruth) has grown unhappy living in Corrigan. Ruth has become more hostile to Charlie and his Father. Charlie at the beginning of the novel can be seen to have anger issues lashing out when he feels his point of view is correct. As the novel progresses Charlie learns not to always argue but instead to act more diplomatic. In Australia marriage breakdowns have increased. In 1965 the divorce rate was 0.7 per 1000 families to 1.9. This increase in divorces has meant more families and children have been impacted and possibly faced with the same situation as Charlie. Charlie Bucktin due to his lack of sport talent, has lead him to be an outcast in the town of Corrigan. Charlie has been bullied on repeated occasions just for saying something somewhat intelligent.

“If I use a word too clever…he (Warwick Trent) and his henchmen will seek me out…repeat the offending word like a mantra, each time punching me on either shoulder”.

Because of this continual bullying Charlie has faced on a daily basis, Charlie has gained more courage. In Australian 27% of children in years 4 – 9 reported being bullied according to a survey. Charlie’s continual bullying and parents’ divorce has taught Charlie how to face his fears and to control his anger. Showing how identity is shaped through adversity.

Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones, has demonstrated what a great Bildungsroman novel is. The novel showcases a multitude of characters who have developed and matured through adversity. Three notable characters that showed development or progress in the novel is first the scapegoat of Corrigan Jasper Jones, the victim of racism Jeffrey Lu, and the social outcast Charlie Bucktin. Jasper has developed in maturity, by living with a drunken father and being a half-caste. Jeffrey Lu has been bullied because of his heritage and watched his mother and father be disrespected. And the protagonist Charlie Bucktin has had to suffer through his parents failing marriage, and continual bullying for being a social outcast. The author Craig Silvey has intentionally had characters develop through tough times, showing how people’s identity are shaped through adversity. 

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Depiction Of Maturity Through Adversity In Jasper Jones By Craig Silvey. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from
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