Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in English
food, young adult literature, character growth, fantasy, identity
English Language and Literature
Food permeates literature, fulfilling a particularly significant role within the realm of literature for young people by providing the means for the emotional and/or spiritual growth of the protagonist. The situation surrounding the food and the choices that the protagonist makes effectively establish a relationship between the protagonist and the provider of the food. This situation holds an equal, if not more important, role in the growth of the character as the food itself does. Michel Foucault's theory of power and identity as ever-shifting relationships allows for an examination of food as a means for growing into one's true, grown up self. Food and the events surrounding it may temporarily replace the loss of a parental figure and force a physical and/or internal transformation upon the character. Novels described as fantastic often present more tangible and obvious uses of food and its effects on the characters. Literature does not have to contain the fantastic for it to demonstrate growth, but these elements allow readers to more easily "see” those changes in the characters. The novels which best exemplify these theories are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, and the Dangerous Angels series by Francesca Lia Block.
© Jennifer A. Matters
Matters, Jennifer A., "Of Mushrooms and Shangri-L.A.: Food in Fantastic Literature For the Young" (2008). MSU Graduate Theses. 1098.