Young Adult Fiction Author Katherine Paterson Cast Her Female Characters In Her Novel "Lyddie".

2626 words - 11 pages

Q). How does Katherine Paterson cast her female characters in Lyddie as potential role models to whom Twenty-first Century female readers can relate?Katherine Paterson is an American author of young adult fiction novels. Her novel Lyddie, published in 1991, is written from a historical perspective and the major characters either face oppression directly or face a threat of oppression. The characters in Lyddie are not always female, though most are, and they are all minorities in the sense that they stand, in some conventionally acknowledged way, on the relatively powerless side of some powerful or powerless social dichotomy. Lyddie promotes the idea that there is within each of us the ability to inspire those around us by living a life that is more outward focused than inward focused. By being selfless, Lyddie can do her part to make the world a better place, spreading love and hope through her daily actions. It is not only by what she says but more importantly by the life that she lives out that shows what each of us is made of. Lyddie offers young female readers a unique insight into the real courage of females in the world, an area so often neglected in literature.Set in 1843, the novel tells the story of Lyddie Worthen, an impoverished farm girl whose father has been gone for three long years, and whose mother has left her to fend for herself. Feeling that she is little more than a slave to the neighbors who have taken over the family farm, Lyddie decides to improve her lot by taking a job as a factory worker in a nearby town. Though the living conditions in the company boarding house are far from ideal and the working conditions in the mill are dangerous, Lyddie at least has a sense of freedom. She makes friends with a co-worker, Diana, who resents the working conditions and has an influence on Lyddie's way of thinking. The young girl also discovers the joys and importance of reading and by the end of the novel is ready to take another adventurous step forward in her personal life. Young adult readers not only sympathize with Lyddie's hardships, but empathize with her and the other characters through the impeccable research and expert craftsmanship of Paterson who recreates the life of ordinary people, particularly women, in America's industrialization period.The direct similarities between the experiences of young women in American during the 1840's and young women today in contemporary Australia seem few and far between. Issues of the time such as high infant mortality rates, poverty, pneumonia, child labour, slavery and orphanage are not overly apparent in 2007. However, the moral conscious of the characters in Lyddie help create a deep sense of awareness for readers. Patterson delivers a story that is primarily one of human experience and how young people react to challenges in their lives and to their preconceived notions of the outside world. Lyddie features difficult themes such as the death of loved ones, sexual abuse and extreme...

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