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Children's perceptions of the wold around them (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Swallows and Amazons) - Essay Example

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This paper looks at the way the children in the novels perceive the world around them and examines their perspectives on that world in each book in turn. The two novels are then compared, illustrating the very different worldwide views that are being conveyed, both through the children’s realistic experiences, and through their fantasies.

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Childrens perceptions of the wold around them (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Swallows and Amazons)
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Download file to see previous pages Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons was published in 1930 in England, at a time when the country was still recovering from the first World War and was engaged in building up military power again, partly to take care of an increasingly rebellious Empire of colonies across the globe, and partly because the situation in Europe was shaping up for further tensions. The children John, Susan, Titty and Roger, are on holiday in the North of England with their mother, but their father is absent on Navy business. Their friends Peggy and Nancy Blackett are the children of local farming people and all of them are confident, well-behaved children of the English middle class. The story is cast in an adventure mode, and a large part of its charm lies in the affectionate depiction of a carefree childhood in tune with a benevolent natural environment of forests and lakes where the children roam free and exercise their imagination.
One of the techniques that Ransome uses to engage the interest of the reader is an extended metaphor of American Indian culture. The adults who hover on the fringes of the action are referred to as “natives” and the food is called “pemmican”....
58) The adults collude with this fantasy, providing material support when necessary and observing the children from a distance. Ransome himself later described what it was that gave him so much pleasure in writing this tale: “It was just this, the way in which the children in it have no firm dividing line between make-believe and reality, but slip in and out of one and the other again and again and backwards and forwards, exactly as I had done when I was a child and, as I rather fancy, we all of us do in grown-up life. (Ransome: 1931, p. 1) This fantasy world is, however governed by stabilizing rules, such as the hierarchal structure of the sailing roles that the children adopt, for example John is the captain, Susan is mate, Titty is able seaman and little Roger is the ship’s boy. In this fantasy world the children are in control, but they exhibit a phenomenal amount of self-discipline combined with an unconscious sense of superiority, particularly with reference to race, which is quite shocking to a modern reader. The children echo the vocabulary of Empire when they talk about adults as “natives” as for example when Peggy says of the man from the houseboat: “He’s a native, and very unfriendly” (Ransome: 1930, p. 115) or when Titty says to her mother “That means we can’t possibly tell you because you’re a native … a nice native, of course.” (Ransome: 1930, p. 56). The assumption that underlies these dialogues is that natives are by nature unfriendly, not nice, and not to be included in the children’s small society. The political and social assumptions which underpin the children’s attitudes have been much discussed (Bosmajian: 2009, pp. ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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