Document details

Literary representations of death, dying and bereavement in children´s literature

Author(s): Schroth, Klara Charlotte

Date: 2017

Persistent ID:

Origin: Repositório Institucional da UNL

Subject(s): Literatura infantil; Representação da morte; Domínio/Área Científica::Humanidades::Línguas e Literaturas; Domínio/Área Científica::Humanidades::Línguas e Literaturas; Domínio/Área Científica::Humanidades::Línguas e Literaturas


Death, dying and bereavement are universal human concerns and yet never fully compre-hensible or knowable. In order to find an approach to the topic, this paper examines and analyses literary representations of death, dying and bereavement in Anglophone literature for children. Scholars such as Kathryn James or Roberta Seelinger Trites have argued for a shift from objective and realistic representations in pre-1980 children’s novels towards an increasing use of narrative devices and fantastic elements in contemporary texts. By com-paring three books from before 1980 (E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Doris Buchanan Smith’s A Taste of Blackberries and Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia) with three contemporary novels (Evan Kuhlman’s The Last Invisible Boy, Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls and Sally Nicholls’s Ways to Live Forever) with regards to the ways in which vari-ous narrative devices enable the reader to comprehend the topic, this paper will examine this claim and will aim at determining a possible tendency for children’s literature con-cerned with death and dying. The analyses and comparison will be supported by a theoretical introduction to chil-dren’s literature, to the concepts of death, dying and bereavement and to the treatment of those concepts in literature in general and in children’s literature in particular. Ultimately, it will be argued that by means of a shift in the usage of narrative devices the readers are more and more allowed and demanded to autonomously interpret the texts, to invest in them and therefore to approach the topics of death, dying and bereavement subjectively and independently. These themes are thus increasingly represented as approachable by means of a subjective use of imagination and fantasy.

Document Type Master thesis
Language English
Advisor(s) Botelho, Teresa
Contributor(s) Schroth, Klara Charlotte
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