Adolescence in Literature: Tan’s half and a half and Walker’s Everyday use

1. Introduction

Adolescence is considered as a stage of development where an individual goes through physical, psychological and social changes. It is a crucial period in one’s life when they learn to develop their own identity and figure out who they want to become in future. In majority of the cases, this process is full of struggles and challenges. The adolescents have to face many difficulties while dealing with their parents, peers and society at large. They need to find a balance between their old values and the new ones they are trying to develop. Many times, they are also not sure about their place in the world and feel lost and confused. In such situation, literature can be of great help as it provides them with a platform to express themselves and also understand the complexities of human relationships. In this paper, we will discuss how two stories, Morrison’s Tan’s half and a half and Walker’s Everyday use, deal with the theme of adolescence and the various struggles that the protagonists go through during this phase of their life.

2. Morrison’s Tan’s half and a half

In Morrison’s Tan’s half and a half, the protagonist Jing-mei is a young Chinese girl living in America with her mother. She is constantly struggling to find her place in the world and figure out her identity. Jing-mei feels like she does not belong anywhere, neither in China nor in America. She is not comfortable with her Chinese culture as she finds it too restrictive and she does not feel like she fits in the American culture either because she is not white. Jing-mei’s mother is always pushing her to be someone she is not and this creates a lot of tension between them. Jing-mei feels like her mother does not understand her and that she is always trying to make her into something she is not.

Jing-mei’s struggle to find her identity is further complicated by her mixed race background. She is constantly torn between her Chinese culture and the American culture. On one hand, she feels like she should uphold the Chinese values but on the other hand, she also wants to be accepted by the American society. This internal conflict makes it very difficult for Jing-mei to find her own path in life.

The story highlights how Jing-mei’s experience as an adolescent is shaped by her cultural background and how she tries to negotiate her way through two different cultures. It also shows how important it is for adolescents to have a supportive network around them during this crucial phase of their life.

3. Walker’s Everyday use

In Walker’s Everyday use, the protagonist Dee is a young black woman who has recently returned to her hometown after getting educated at a university in the city. Dee is very proud of her achievements and looks down upon her family members who have not had the same opportunities as she has had. Dee is especially critical of her sister Maggie who has suffered from polio and has been left with a limp. Dee sees Maggie as someone who is content with living a simple life whereas she herself wants to live a more sophisticated life. Dee also believes that Maggie does not appreciate or value the things that she has been given by their ancestors whereas Dee herself feels very connected to her African heritage.

Dee’s relationship with her family members is further strained when she tries to take away some quilts which have been made by their great-grandmother. Dee believes that these quilts should be displayed in a museum as they are a part of her African heritage. However, Maggie argues that the quilts should be used as they were meant to be used and not just kept as a display. This results in a big argument between Dee and Maggie.

The story highlights how Dee’s experience as an adolescent is shaped by her race and gender. It also shows how important it is for adolescents to have a supportive network around them during this crucial phase of their life.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, we can say that adolescence is a crucial phase in one’s life when they learn to develop their own identity and figure out who they want to become in future. In majority of the cases, this process is full of struggles and challenges. The adolescents have to face many difficulties while dealing with their parents, peers and society at large. They need to find a balance between their old values and the new ones they are trying to develop. Many times, they are also not sure about their place in the world and feel lost and confused. In such situation, literature can be of great help as it provides them with a platform to express themselves and also understand the complexities of human relationships.

FAQ

The main characteristics of adolescence are physical, cognitive, and social changes.

Adolescence differs from other developmental stages in that it is a time of significant change.

Physical changes during adolescence include growth spurts, sexual maturity, and changes in brain development. Cognitive changes include increased abstract thinking and greater capacity for planning and problem solving. Social changes include increased peer influence, experimentation with different roles and identities, and increased independence from adults.

These changes impact the individual’s development by providing new opportunities for learning and exploration but also presenting new challenges to be navigated.

Some of the challenges adolescents face during this stage include identity formation, managing emotions, navigating relationships, dealing with academic pressure, and making decisions about risky behaviors.

Parents and caregivers can support adolescents through this stage by providing love and guidance, fostering communication, setting limits while allowing autonomy, modeling healthy behavior, and remaining involved in their lives