Theme of Loss of Innocence in Craig Silvey’s Novel Jasper Jones

Throughout Craig Silvey’s, Jasper Jones, the theme of loss of innocence is used to express the essential messages and ideas seen throughout. These ideas include innocent children exposed to war, abuse, and neglect, racial discrimination, and the independence and maturity of the main character, Jasper Jones. Each one of these themes will be examined, to demonstrate the link between the film symbolism and the main messages or themes explored by the author, Craig Silvey.

Characterization is used by Silvey throughout Jasper Jones to display a loss of innocence. For instance, as seen on page 29, the wise words of Charlie Bucktin state, “This shouldn’t be our responsibility. It shouldn’t be our hideous problem to solve. We should be able to pass this to the right people. We should be able to run like frightened kids, to point and pant and cower someplace safe.” From this point onwards, both Jasper and Charlie believed that the crime that they had witnessed was now in their own hands as no other witnesses had come forward, leading them to believe that they would need to find their own solution to this so-called mystery. This displays the characteristics of bravery and maturity possessed by both Jasper and Charlie. Another example of Charlie’s heroics can be seen on page 176 where he explains that “Soon as you can walk and talk, you start making your own luck. And I don’t need some spirit in the sky to help me do that. I can do it on my own.” Once again, this shows the sheer wisdom and courage displayed by Charlie throughout, as he is a 13-year-old boy that is able to interrogate the main teachings and principles of God, convincing the audience into believing his hardship and background whilst growing up allowing them to understand the catastrophic circumstances he has combated or experienced.

Another example of loss of innocence is seen when Vietnamese immigrant, Jeffrey Lu is removed from the cricket pitch, due to receiving an immense amount of racial feedback. One of Jeffrey’s closest friends, Charlie Bucktin was aware of these constant bursts of racism but was unable to fight back at as he feared for his safety as well as the safety of many others. For instance, a scenario involving racism can be seen on page 224, “His teammates. In unison those belligerent bastards, yelling, “Shot, Cong!” across the field, at once turning an insult into a nickname’’. The Vietnam war also becomes reality in Whilst living in the small town of Corrigan, Jeffrey Lu begins to receive flashbacks of the Vietnam War as he is continually targeted by the non-Vietnamese population allowing the majority of the population to refer to him as ‘Chong’ as his small amount of friends do not share the nerve to stand up for one another. He’s a victim of racism when his mother was attacked at the town hall, he also experiences family dying in the Vietnam war. Another significant event regarding racism can be seen on page 267 when the father of Jeffrey Lu has his garden destroyed in an evil plan constructed by the townsmen that were involved in attacking any Vietnamese members of the population. Each one of these scenarios has had a major effect on Jeffrey, shaping him int the mature, powerful man he is.

The maturity shown by Jasper throughout the novel is another instance in which a loss of innocence is displayed. Jasper is able to reflect on the life and death of his father at the age of 14, despite it negatively impacting his life significantly. Jasper explained to Charlie that his father would rather spend his entire earnings on alcohol and women rather than supporting his family through providing his son with adequate food and drink. Due to this occurring in the past, Jasper relies on stealing goods and services such as food and drink from others, as he is unable to purchase his own. Jasper suffered for the majority of his early life as his mother had passed away leaving his father in charge of raising him, which then led to a series of abuse and neglect cases. Due to the experiences that Jasper was faced with in his early childhood, he then began to grow a negative reputation, with the majority of the town labeling him as a thief. The majority of families in Corrigan use Jasper as an incentive for their children to behave well, stating that if you do not behave appropriately, you will turn out like Jasper. This image arose when the town continuously gossiped about Jasper. As seen on page 197, when Jasper is brutally beaten by police, the entire population of Corrigan begins to neglect him due to his overall behavior and actions, as well as his cultural background and beliefs.

In conclusion, a loss of innocence is a crucial theme or technique that is used to display a sequence of key symbolism explored by the author, Craig Silvey throughout the novel, Jasper Jones. A loss of innocence is explored during paragraph one when author, Craig Silvey uses characterization to describe this technique as well as in paragraph two when racism and neglect are experienced, and finally in the third paragraph when maturity and bravery are shown throughout.   

07 July 2022
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