Dumplin and Wallflower Conversation
1) Which elements of the book and/or film belong to the youth category? Are there aspects that subvert or surprise the norms of young adult literature? Are the patterns tired or refreshing?
2) What is your favorite character and why? What do you dislike the most?
* This article was created after taking a class in one of the 'Youth Literacies' subjects, one of Adelphi University's master's programs.
1. Through this class, I was reminded of YG, characteristics, and importance, and I think it was a meaningful time to compare the two (Duplin & Willflower) and think about how to understand and care for teenagers as an educator. First, as emphasized in 25 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUNG ADULT FICTION(*), YG is not a genre. Suggested age range for people who want to read specific books.
And as it reminds us many times, a good story is a good story, regardless of age. You cannot classify all of them as YG simply because they are set in school, or because the characters are teenagers or have concepts that teens will like. Then, from this point of view, in what way do Dumplins and Wallflowers presented in this module correspond to YG?
Based on the perspectives presented in the two references(*), I extracted the parts that I personally think are important and organized them into three perspectives.
First. The theme of YG usually depicts the pain and confusion of growing up from childhood to youth and adulthood, and the sexual part is also very candid, and the story is developed in a colloquial style (in the case of literature) without any specific language restrictions. It is characteristic to do. In this respect, Dumplin comically captures the fight against prejudice, pain, and conflict caused by the social perception that the self-confident protagonist is fat. Wallflower deals with this in a deeper and sharper way, even from a psychological point of view. In other words, it shows the world that a boy who has been broken inside, suffering from sexual abuse by his aunt, dissociation of memories, and PTSD, understands the world from his own perspective. In this respect, it is true that there are details to understand young adult.
As introduced in The Evolution of YA: Young Adult Fiction, Explained (Feat. Lindsay Ellis), the writer S.E Hinton, who wrote “The Outsiders” in 1967, actually published this book at the age of 16, and many teens sympathize with it because he wrote it at the age of 14. It matches what I say with that perspective.
Second. The YG genre does not have a single theme, but it is characterized by containing the story of the main character from a dystopian world to family and friendship through various themes. In this way, protagonist changes or the process of discovering a new self is included.
In this way, Willowdean is influenced by the people around her: Lucy, Ellen, her aunt's friend, and friends with whom she participated in beauty contests, as she explores her own regal identity anew. This is on a different level from the encouragement she received from Lucy. She became more imposing with the encouragement of her late Aunt Lucy. She succeeded in being herself, but was not enough to break the giant wall of her social prejudices. That's why she couldn't even get close to Bo.
But in her battle with her self, which becomes metaphor with her beauty pageant, she finally gets the answer. In other words, nobody is perfect. Even the beauty pageant for the perfect people is where many imperfect people dream of being perfect. Then she just had to admit that there was a part of her that wasn't perfect either.
The same goes for wallflowers. He befriends Patrick and Sam with similar pains to his own. However, he was always complicated by illusion and was bullied. I think he would have thought that making friends would solve the problem as he mentioned in his writing. However, he makes friends of his who share his pain, but later his symptoms worsen and he is briefly separated from his friends for treatment. It is through communication with Sam, who resembles himself, that he truly heals his inner self. He finally learns that his solution to his own problems, rather than external or environmental factors, lies within himself. He suffers from dissociation, but sucessfully puts all the puzzles of his memory together, frees himself from Stockholm Syndrome from his late aunt, and finds true-himself confidently and becomes a person who loves himself. These resolutions and lessons serve as a catharsis in the turbulent period of adolescence.
Third. The YG genre contains social and racial issues that can affect society. As seen through Lindsay Ellis YouTube, ‘THE HATE U Give’ documented the human rights abusive violence of American police against a specific race. And this became the predecessor of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
Personally, I prefer social novels like this. From this point of view, Dumplin is giving a message about the alarm and diversity& inclusion to a look-oriented society. This has actually resulted in transgender or obese people winning beauty contests. In the case of ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’, it deals with issues of youth abuse, drugs, bullying and sexual identity. In this respect, I think both Dumplin and Wallflower have the power to subvert norms and prejudices.
Although, personally, I prefer a movie that analyzes the inside more and makes use of details like ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’. There is more to think about. In the case of Dumplin, it is fun and has a lot of laughs, but since the main character, Willowdean, appeared in an already completed state, I think the completeness of the details on how to resist discrimination has fallen. But I had so much fun reading it.
According to my personal preference, I think that ‘Wallflower’ successfully solved the problems experienced as a teenager and the main character's inner voice with details such as scene transitions, delusions. And it also helps us understand why teens do drug.
2. My favorite characters through this module are Ellen in Dumpling and Patrick's sister, Sam in Perks of Being a Wallflower. I chose these two because they have something in common. One of the things that stood out the most to me was how real Elan and Sam were. Of course, there are wonderful supporting characters who teach lessons in books and movies, and there are touching protagonists who live upright lives. But I like monologues and confessions made by people who would live with in real life. In this way, Alan and Sam come across as people I'm likely to encounter around me. And their selfishness or frustration actually becomes our story. Our reality is that there are not only problems that are often overcome like books or movies. And the characters I don't like... I didn't feel any dislike for any character. Because not everyone in the world is perfect. If there is a feeling of rejection, is it an actor who can't act even though it's a movie? I'd like to give you a hint that this is it.
I liked that I could remind myself of youth culture through this module. And like ‘Back to the Future’, it was nice to go back to my teenage years and feel that heart. At that time, I couldn't draw the picture I liked, and I lived under control of everything, but as an adult, I feel true freedom, do what I love, and live my dream. And this is like Willowdean or Charlie, looking for the cause of all problems from outside, and suddenly seeing myself and living in a different world by changing myself.
It turns out that I was the center of the universe. I had to change the universe to change.
-The Evolution of YA: Young Adult Fiction, Explained (Feat. Lindsay Ellis) | It's Lit!
-25 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUNG ADULT FICTION
Myungja Anna Koh