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Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

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After having a thorough read of the novel ‘Jasper Jones’ by Craig Silvey, I have come to understand the powerful effects of using written codes and conventions in novels. Silvey’s impressive piece of literature was carefully constructed through techniques such as characterization, socio-cultural context, themes and intertexuality. By doing this, Silvey was accredited for convincing the readers, appealing to their emotions and manipulating their beliefs and values to accept or agree with his opinions on the issue covered in the novel. Characters play a major role in ensuring that the novels can be read and comprehended. However, the success of a novel is dependent on the quality of characterization and whether they will attract the attention of the readers. Silvey’s approach to character construction is slightly different as the main protagonists possess or represent his personal qualities. According to Silvey, back in the school days he was a geeky kid obsessed with books just like Charlie Bucktin in the novel. At times Silvey was mischievous, smart, funny and cocky just like Jeffery Lu, who is Charlie’s only best friend and is a Vietnamese immigrant.

Nevertheless, Silvey personally prefers to have more of Jasper Jones’ character of being serious, courageous, loyal and way mature for his age. Charlie describes Jasper as being free of bitterness despite all the troubles the community puts him through. One of the most vital aspects that needs to be established is the socio-cultural context of the novel. Silvey chose the time frame of the 1960s, where Australia was a nation of racism and injustice because this is still relevant to parts of today’s society. Referring to the novel, Jasper is known by everyone as a half-caste since he is an Aboriginal. He also notifies Charlie that he is only considered as “…half-animal and half a vote” in Corrigan, a small country town in Western Australia. This shows the people’s ignorance and pride as being the real owners or natives of Australia. However, by analyzing the history, it is obvious that this land belongs solely to the Aboriginals and that the British forcefully or deceivingly stole their land, and claimed it as their own.

The community also had issues with Vietnamese immigrants due to their different physical features and the crisis Vietnam was in. For instance, Jeffrey and his family were harassed and Mr. Lu was beaten by four drunken men. The messages are being conveyed as themes in the novel and Silvey aims to inform Australians of the consequences for our actions. He explored ideas of racism and discrimination, inequality, injustice and alcoholism. In the novel, Charlie is distressed to find both of his friends being insulted and abused for the nationality. For example, Jasper is blames for Laura’s death and for every conflict he is held as scapegoat. In Jeffrey’s case, his family is looked down upon and their reputation as humans is disregarded and degraded. Silvey is trying to highlight the stupidity of the people and show the importance of giving everyone a fair go.

Jasper Jones has strong intertextual links to an all-time favourite but a complex novel to understand, To kill a mocking bird by Harper Lee. In fact Silvey wrote Jasper Jones as an easier and modern version of To Kill a Mocking Bird. Many of the characters have parallel personalities and some of the main ideas were the same. Both deal with racism and discrimination in small country towns, both explore the distant relation between law and justice, and both, Jasper Jones and TKAMB create a world of moral opposites that somehow exists together. Both authors had the goal to convince and change the thoughts of their audience. Silvey has achieved his goals of convincing his readers and to portray the messages in the novel is a way that would appeal to their emotions. The readers are also able to relate to the characters’ situations through the various techniques Silvey used.

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