Jasper Jones is a coming of age novel that the author Craig Silvey has set in 1965, in the small town of Corrigan; thick with secrecy and mistrust. Charlie Bucktin, an innocent boy at the young age of thirteen, has been forced to mature and grow up over a life changing, challenging summer. With a little help from Jasper Jones, Charlie discovers new knowledge about the society and the seemingly perfect town that he is living in, as well as the people that are closest to him. The most important ideas and issues that Craig Silvey portrays in Jasper Jones are: coming of age and identity, injustice and racism. These themes have a great impact on the reader. While discovering and facing these new issues, Charlie and his best friend Jeffrey Lu gain a greater awareness of human nature and how to deal with the challenges that life can throw at you.
One of Silvey’s major ideas in Jasper Jones is coming of age and identity; in this case, Charlie has been thrown into adulthood and forced to grow out of his immature, fearful self. During the novel Charlie starts to mature, show bravery and stand up for himself. This turn of events occur because Charlie chooses to help Jasper: “But I don’t turn back. I stay. I follow Jasper Jones. And I see it. And everything changes. The world breaks and spins and shakes.” (pg. 12). He made a choice between doing what was right and what he thought was fair. He knew Jasper would be immediately blamed for the death of Laura Wishart.
The night Laura Wishart was found dead, Charlie changed as a person: he started to see everything in a different light, even his home life. He comes to terms with his mother; he realises that her personal issues are being taken out on him and dominating their family life. Ruth Bucktin is portrayed as a self-absorbed and dominating woman who is only trying to be perfect in her towns’ eyes. Charlie also realises his father, who he once idolised; after all this time has never stood up for himself. When Charlie catches his mother having an affair, he suddenly rejects her and takes charge of himself: “I rip my hands from her grasp with an ease that surprises me…I look away from her. I am so ashamed.” (pg. 323). Charlie also grasps the fact that he doesn’t understand what is going on around him: “I don’t understand a thing about this world: about people, and why they do the things they do.” (pg. 324).
Coming of age is a young person’s transition from childhood to adulthood; this impacts the reader in a way that makes them stop and think whether that change has been made in their own life and if it hasn’t happened already, makes them wonder when it will happen and what turn of events will lead to the transference from childhood to adulthood. Charlie’s journey helps the reader connect with the story.
Secondly, an issue that plays a large role in the novel is injustice. Injustice is represented in a variety of ways such as: through the police, the shire president and the general community....