20 June 2012
Social Equality in Children's Literature
To begin with, we should say what social equality is in general. Social equality is a state of social affairs where all the people within the same group or any other formation have the same rights and, what is more important, the same status in certain respects. Some basic differences may divide people in social hierarchy. The main ones are gender, race, or wealth. But why is it so significant especially in children literature? To my mind, the second question is whether there is any social equality in children literature. I think there are a lot of books which show this problem. To traverse this problem we’ll discuss some children books. And in the books under analysis people suffer from race division. Unfortunately, race is an outdated concept for distinguishing people. Racism has always been the greatest problem for the USA, especially considering African Americans. Equal rights and social value is a matter that needs to be taken extremely seriously. Martin Luther King Jnr, Gandhi, Jesus, Malcolm X, Pope John II, The Dalai Lama, St Francis of Assisi and even John Lennon all believed that social rights and being equal, no matter who you are, is one of the most important things in the world to conquer. Maybe, children books are the first sources of anti-racism and helpers to fight with social inequality. Let’s think broader to understand this. The first book to discuss is The Watson's Go to Birmingham by C.P. Curtis. It is a historical fiction book. And there is 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. This moment was a critical catalyst of the American civil rights movement. Could we judge a historical book as children one? Let’s dwell on the details. Because Kenny, the main character, tells the story of his family’s trip to the Deep South, the reader gets to experience what is was like to grow up during the height of the civil rights struggle. In the first part Kenny introduces his family, so called “Weird Watsons”. They live in Flint, Michigan, while Grandma Sands lives in Alabama. Both places are under rather intriguing seasons. The family have to run away to save themselves. That is not the only reason. Kelly is bullied at school. This is both because of his being an excellent student and some civil inequality. But to my mind, children become to bully, as for a civil aspect, only after their parents’ words or actions. They are too young to judge a person properly. Anyway, the book remains just a story about a family, but some moments, such as the church bombings or the murder of Emmet Till, makes it very powerful. What is more, Birmingham, as the centre of action, also is the centre of civil fights and maybe it could be a symbol of that time. As for national equality, not the whole book, but significant moments in it are the greatest examples of the problem. But to understand everything it is better to read and fell it. The second book under analysis is Monster by W.D. Myers. It is a drama novel. To continue our discussing according to the theme let’s say about the characters and the problems described in the novel. Steve Harmon is an African American who is on trial for felony murder in New York City. Peer pressure is the main theme which then affected how Steve ended up. As for humanity, Steve is called “Monster”. He starts thinking over it. This book could be named autobiographical, because Myers was often laughed at at school. And this story is scribbled on the pages of the novel, as the author took his school teacher’s advice and wrote at night after work just as then Steve did. Although the novel is focused on moral and then social issues, it definitely touches some social problems. Some comment about being black that already may make a person guilty brings up a long-standing social issue about discrimination against African Americans in law enforcement. The question of social equality...
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