Blending and Cultural Narratives by Trites (Discussion Questions)
How convinced are we by Trites’ argument that lila’s xeroderma pigmentosum is “an embodied metaphor for racism (58),” that “xp may well be a metaphor for race in [a cool moonlight] (58)”? Are we not veering into dangerous territory when we conflate the two?
Trites quotes David Herman’s argument that “cognitive narratology ‘investigates how narratives, through their forms as well as their themes, work to privilege some world models over others’ (79),” further specifying that she believes the most influential world model found in adolescent literature is “the model of requisite adolescent growth (79).” Do you think this is true of a cool moonlight? How do we see this play out in lila’s journey from wanting to be a sun goddess to being happy with being a moon girl?
Is it only the child/adolescent protagonist that must grow? Are the characters that form the community also growing or not growing? What is the role of the community/family in maintaining/enforcing this “requisite adolescent growth”? Do monk and mama and dad want lila to grow?
I have never read Neal Shusterman’s Unwind, but juding from Trites’ analysis and quoting of the text, feel that it seems to be a highly problematic text. Trites says, “the book is ultimately far more pro-life than pro-choice, even though the text appears initially to try to present all sides of the debate fairly (71).” But it doesn’t! And ultimately, the message is received by readers, whether consciously or not. So. Where does that leave us? As someone interested in the sociology of knowledge and the way language works to enforce and maintain certain ideologies, I find this kind of work operating in children’s literature extra alarming. This goes back to our discussions around the fact that, ultimately, adults write children’s literature. Trites may argue that “the model of requisite adolescent growth” is the major unifying cultural narrative found in children’s literature, but perhaps it’s just the “ideas of the ruling class” (sorry to bring in Marx) that make it into these texts?