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The Impacts Homelife Has on Adolescents in 'Jasper Jones' by Craig Silvey

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Dysfunctional families to this day have a vast impact on shaping individuals’ identities. Family issues had a high impact on suicide rates in 2019. With attempts being significantly higher as the years go on. In 2018 alone “there were 3,046 deaths by suicide with an age-specific rate of 12.2 per 100,000. This equates to an average of 8.3 deaths by suicide in Australia each day”. Craig Silvey uses characters, Jasper Jones and Charlie, to portray the impacts home life has on adolescents. Not only does he do this he also reflects the importance of this topic to his readers through the negative impacts.

Family dynamics will ultimately impact and influence the way young people view others and their surroundings. It will also impact their relationships, behaviours and their future. The novel is full of examples of dysfunctional families. In Jaspers’ case, the absent alcoholic father intertwined with the fact he is half aboriginal caused him to be the outcast of the town. Due to the absence of Jaspers’s father, he was forced to mature whilst other kids were still being kids, this was apparent in the quote ‘ I been lookin’ after myself since I can remember.’ This happens to this day with around 21% of children living or being involved with alcohol or substance-abusing parents.

Statistics show emotionally abusive parents are not uncommon with emotional abuse being the most common type of substantiated child maltreatment in Australia during 2015-16 with 45% of children either living or being involved with this type of treatment. Character Charlie fell into that 45%. His mother Ruth was a vindictive bitter woman. She carried an extreme resentment for her life in Corrigan. This showed in her interactions with young Charlie and her husband Wesley. Throughout the novel it is evident she becomes a blunt and impatient woman snapping and criticising her son and husband for no apparent reasons. In the novel Silvey uses an array of quotes to express ruths negative behaviour and the effects it had on Charlie. as the book unfolded so did ruths true colours. Charlie uses the simile of a “snake poised to strike” after the night he disappeared off with jasper. By likening Charlie’s mother to a “snake”, Silvey highlights to the reader how angry she is and furthermore how toxic and tense their relationship has become. Other instances had a vast impact on Charlie and his identity. Catching his mother in the act of being unfaithful to his father drastically changed him. With frequent signs of this possible behaviour occurring, such as his mother leaving to the city more often than usual and the believed cause of her unhappiness being Charlie’s father’s lack of wealth and the initial move to Corrigan. He tells her that “this means I don’t have to do what you say anymore”, as he feels that his mother has lost all moral authority over him. Charlie then becomes a more cautious and untrusting individual. Charlie mentioned his mother had become ‘so hard’. This illustrates the lack of love and warmth in their relationship.

Another crucial character Craig Silvey uses was Jasper Jones. Not only did Jasper’s homelife affect him the racism throughout his town and the discriminatory acts of others had a huge impact on his views, morals and personality. Throughout the novel parenting or lack of in Jaspers, case was the main cause for acting out. The fact that he is “half-caste,” and is raised by a neglectful father causes Jasper to be a scapegoat for every crime and wrongdoing in the town of Corrigan. This was quite clearly shown in the incident where Charlie believes telling the police about the finding of Laura Wishart is the best thing to do but jasper does anything but agree. “Bloody hell. Listen, Charlie, we can’t tell anyone. No way. Especially the police. Because they are going to say it was me. Straight up. Understand?” it’s apparent jasper knows he’s treated differently to all other townspeople of Corrigan. The fact that jaspers has been looking after himself and in turn not exactly having anywhere to go home to greatly affected his character development. ‘ I been lookin’ after myself since I can remember’ not only does this show Jasper’s failed relationship with his father and exemplifies the fact that he never had an established family it also gives us an insight as to why Jasper has the habits of needing to smoke and drink. These are qualities associated with adulthood and rebellion.

Throughout the novel there was a clear contrast in Charlie and Jaspers’ individual character changes. Due to the affair young Charlie became more aware of how even the most trustworthy adults can be deceiving. His relationships in his household with his parents differed substantially over the course of the novel. He became increasingly disillusioned not only with his town but his parents. He eventually saw his own mother as overbearing and did not believe she was worthy of the motherly position in his life. His dad was his only positive thing in his house as he watches him become overly passive throughout the book. Not only did Ruth leaving have a positive impact on Charlie but his relationship with his dad became a lot less strained. In the end of the novel, jasper jones leaves Corrigan not voluntarily but because if he stayed, he would be blamed for arson and murder. He escapes the constant down bringing and battery of the townspeople and authority. Not only this but his toxic and almost non-existent relationship with his father. Although this decision and move may have been difficult he has the chance to start over someplace new and find a place people of other races and cultures are accepted.

To conclude Craig Silveys interpretation on homelife and its effect on identity as well as many other important social issues allows the reader to reflect. With the examples of Jasper Jones and Charlie the author effectively portrays the effects family had on an individual in the present time but also the longer-lasting effects these actions cause. This specific issue is a major cause of suicides and attempts in adolescents to this day with emotional abuse being one of the leading factors. By portraying these problems, the audience is able to relate to a modern text and characters and get a deeper understanding of this ongoing issue.



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The Impacts Homelife has on Adolescents in ‘Jasper Jones’ by Craig Silvey. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from
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