Holding Out For a Heroine: Representations of Voice, Silence and Adolescent Girls’ Identity in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction
Wilkinson, M. J. M. (2018). Holding Out For a Heroine: Representations of Voice, Silence and Adolescent Girls’ Identity in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11711
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11711
Today, teenage girls are told they can do anything. However, this is not reflected in the images they see and the books they read, which often reinforce messages of passivity, weakness, objectification, and undermine the need for girls to develop a strong voice and autonomous sense of self. This thesis explores these issues through an analysis of heroines in Young Adult dystopian fiction. With its popularity and its exaggeration of real-world issues, this literature is in a unique position to address not only wider political and social contexts but also the lack of representation of young girls. Using developmental psychology as a frame and Girl’s Studies as theoretical lens, this thesis analyses two popular Young Adult series. The first, ‘The Selection’ series by Kiera Cass, offers an example of a passive heroine in the protagonist America Singer. America is a problematic heroine who embodies deep-rooted tropes of passivity and submission to her male counterparts. In contrast, Katniss Everdeen in ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy by Suzanne Collins offers a positive example of what it means to find your voice when your world demands your silence. This thesis has a creative component which seeks to construct a Young Adult dystopian heroine who, like Katniss, is a positive role model of strength and empowerment. However, this heroine is ordinary rather than exceptional, makes mistakes and yet has the courage to fight for herself and others. The Choice specifically addresses many of the themes explored in the exegesis: the toxic effect of the media; the potential for girls to support each other rather than fighting with each other; and the importance of maintaining identity, even if you fall in love.
The University of Waikato
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