By: Molly Boylan
In young adult novels, rebellion can come in the form of chocolate and berries. But are teens rebellious for more than just rebellion’s sake? Yes. More specifically, Robert Cormier and Suzanne Collins each use the hero/heroine of the young adult novel to advance the relationship between reader and reality. In this essay, build on the work of Tom Henthorne, Michael Cart and others who consider various aspects of young adult literature as a whole and each novel respectively. However unlike these scholars, I analyze how The Chocolate War (1974) and The Hunger Games (2008) leave readers with a disturbing awareness of the downfalls of societies in similar plot lines that promote social justice.
In order to look deeper at social justice issues in young adult novels, I use The Chocolate War as the foundational text and consider its influence on teen readers. Thirty-four years later, Suzanne Collins incorporated social action as a theme in The Hunger Games. Each author creates a connection to the readers by evoking empathy, acknowledging the disturbing elements of society, indicate tragic injustices, and demonstrate the social action each protagonist undertakes.
A comparison of these two texts leads to a better understanding how young adult novels motivate teens to consider social action in their own reality.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press, 2008. Print.
Cormier, Robert.The Chocolate War. New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf, 1974. Print.
Cart, Michael. Young Adult Literature from Romance to Realism. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010. Print.
Henthorne, Tom. Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy: a literary and cultural analysis. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2012. Print