Daniel Clowes And His Interpretation Of The Teenage Years

2305 words - 10 pages

Aiming at elder teenagers who are facing or have experienced the process of entering adulthood, the cartoonist Daniel Clowes illustrates the twisting feeling between resistances and attempts during the transition toward adulthood in his successful graphic novel Ghost World. In the story, the author characterizes the two protagonists Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer as rebellious and cynical; they aimlessly wander around the town and "their main activity, though, is mocking -- with a callow conviction worthy of Holden Caulfield -- the phoniness and hypocrisy that surrounds them. (Scott). By portraying the entering adulthood melodrama based on his own experience, the rhetorician illustrates contemporary teenagers' angst and confusion triggered by both the changes they have to face and the pressure of mainstream culture. Moreover, the graphic medium and comic genre sufficiently reaches targeted teenager readers: the adoption of dark green which represents the somber atmosphere and mass media's penetration, the intentionally portrayed ostensible figures which implies teenagers' constant judgment toward external world, and the direct language(sometimes impolite) language which specifically aims to teenagers in real world who use the same kind language; all of them serve as effective components of the melancholy but realistic atmosphere through the whole story. Thus, by illustrating the protagonist's twisting inner feeling between the attempt to suit in and the resistance toward the constantly changing external world and unknown adulthood, author Daniel Clowes constructs an entering adulthood melodrama with the help of graphic novel components, which provokes readers to consider teenage angst and the fear during coming of age time, and expresses the author's compassion of the coming of age angst.
Daniel Clowes characterizes the protagonist as rebellious and unsympathetic; however, under the ostensible relentless mocking and cynicism, the author depicts a phenomenon that teenagers behave as rebellious to resist the transition toward the unknown adulthood identity simply because they are still children, just like Giroux points out that it is “the justifiable teenage fear of being trapped in an adult world…, and the difficulty of choosing an identity.” (Giroux 297) For example, the goofy toys and old records represent Enid's more innocent childhood. There is contradiction between pretended maturity and real fear which further illustrates teenager’s plight during the transition age. For example, at the second chapter when Enid has a yard sale, she claims that she "don't want any of that shit [her toys]" (Clowes 20) However, at the night when she remembers her stuff, she says " I'm gonna get going...nothing" to her intimate friend Rebecca, but goes to find her toys back alone. That is, the author makes Enid pretend to not care the past childhood time anymore; however, the plight and angst during adolescence make Enid escape from reality and...

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