Allegory Toward To Kill a Mockingbird
Jasper Jones is a novel written by Craig Silvey, the story follows local boy Charlie Bucktin in the country town of Corrigan, Australia. Charlie is awoken one night by a local aboriginal boy Jasper Jones who pleads with him for help with no explanation as to why. Jasper takes Charlie out into the bush revealing the corpse of Laura Wishart hanging from a gumtree. Laura was hanging with the same rope as Jaspers’s swing, which is usually hidden, so Jasper exclaims that she must have been murdered. Charlie insists that they tell the police but Jasper tells him that “they are gonna say it was me, straight up”. The novel takes place in 1960s Australia, a time when those who did not come from Anglo-Celtic backgrounds were heavily looked down upon in society. Jasper Jones plays heavily on the theme of racism within in society and Craig Silvey used several Stylistic and Language features to prevail upon this theme.
Jasper Jones is an allegory toward Harper Lee’s 1960 book To Kill a Mockingbird. Both Lee and Silvey present the reader with a story where the characters are non-willingly forced into a situation of evil, prejudice, and hatred due to racism. In the case of To Kill A Mockingbird the viewer is presented with the characters Scout and Jem, siblings from Maycomb Alabama in the 1930s. The siblings are forced into a situation of ridicule due to their father Atticus defending a black man in court. Similarly in Jasper Jones, Charlie is directly involved with Laura’s murder due to Jasper being aboriginal and the racial injustice within the system, as said by Jasper ”This town, they think I’m a bloody animal”. Both Silvey and Lee put their characters in situations where they had to un-willingly mature in order to grasp the situation at hand, the characters are not in their positions by choice and are given a newfound perspective of what it is to be black in racist societies and giving the reader an analogous experience. Jasper Jones similarly to To Kill a Mockingbird contains an allegory for the wider perspective of racism laying within societies and uses children to put this message across, showing that even kids can see through the ignorance in this way of thinking. Similarly, Silvey and Lee used the uncorrupted eyes of children in order for the reader to see the beautiful complexity that is our common humanity and the importance of rights for those living within society.
The symbolism of Mad Jack’s Lionel’s peach tree plays a large role in developing the theme of racism throughout the plot. Mad Jack is seen as a scary old man by the boys and they even believe he was the person that killed Laura, getting a peach from his tree was extremely impressive to the local children as it was a feat of extreme bravery. As the story unravels many key points are revealed to the viewer about Mad Jack, one of which being that Mad Jack is in fact Jasper’s grandfather and that he changed his surname due to him being embarrassed of his aboriginal daughter-in-law. Toward the end of the book the boys decided to confront Jack in order to get him to admit to Laura’s murder, Jasper exclaims that he knows “what he’s done” and Jack reveals the truth, not to Laura’s murder but in reality Jaspers mothers death. Further on in the novel, Charlie returns to school for a new year and makes a bet with bully Warwick Trent to retrieve peaches from Mad Jack’s house in order to grant “immunity” for Warwick’s bullying. As Charlie gets to Jack’s house and out of sight from the rest of the boys he talks to Jack and asks him if he can take some peaches from his tree, Jack exclaims that they are all on the floor covered with insects but Charlie still insists despite his fear of bugs. When Charlie walks toward the tree he sees the insect-infested fruit. Charlie must combat his fears to get these peaches and so he does so, there is a larger message that comes from this action though. The peach tree and Mad Jack’s house in this situation represent the aboriginal people during this era. The local children fear Mad Jack as he is seen as crazy even though they know nothing about him, within the plot Mad Jack is revealed as a kind old man similarly representing the shifting public opinion within Australia toward aboriginal people. The novel teaches the lesson that those with a different skin tone are no different from people from Anglo-Celtic descent and Silvey represents this with the symbolism of the peach tree and Mad Jack Lionel.
In Conclusion, although Jasper Jones may been seen from first glance as just a children’s mystery novel it has a much more deep-rooted purpose. Silvey uses similar techniques from To Kill a Mockingbird in order to expose the reader of the terrible circumstances for those who were seen as different within this era and uses symbolism to put many of the lessons that were learned throughout the novel into context. Silvey’s goal was to expose the reader to these detrimental times in history to prevent a future repeat and educate younger generations of such critical issues.
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