”Is everything all right at home?”: The Teacher’s Role in the Representation of Child Maltreatment in Matilda, The Illustrated Mum, and Goodnight Mister Tom.
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This master’s thesis examines which roles the teacher characters are playing in the portrayal of child maltreatment in Matilda by Roald Dahl, Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian, and The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson. In these books, the reader is introduced to protagonists that are experiencing different forms of child maltreatment in their home situation. The protagonists also have teacher characters in their lives, filling different roles and having different functions to the plot. The characters in the books, and the relationships between them, are analyzed with the help of theory of character analysis and character relations, and by looking at structure and tradition in children’s literature. The method is based on Rolf Gaasland (1999) and Jakob Lothe’s (2000) theories about character analysis, and the Actantial Narrative Schema by Algirdas J. Greimas (referred in Hébert, 2013). Teacher characters are often present in books where the protagonist is at an age where it would be natural for them to attend school. This also includes the books where child maltreatment is present as a theme. Creating a consciousness regarding how the teacher characters are portrayed in these situations, and how this portrayal is affected by the outside factors, has been the primary motivation behind this project. I think that this could help create a better image of the impression children get of the teacher character’s ability to deal with these situations through the literature they read. Finding in the close reading shows that, despite similarities in the protagonists’ lives, there are significant differences regarding how the teacher characters are portrayed, and which roles they are given in the story. The thesis shows that the teacher characters often are portrayed as either good helpers and supporters of the protagonist, or “evil” opponents, working against the protagonist’s main project. How the factors around the teacher characters seem to affect how they are portrayed is interesting. The factors in and around the protagonist the extent of the maltreatment, the biological parents and the role “the other adults” are given, seem to affect how the teacher characters are portrayed in the primary literature.
Master in Children and Young Adults’ Literature Department of Language, Literature, Mathematics and Interpreting Submission Date: May 15th 2019