Male Protagonists in Contemporary African American Young Adult Literature
Chapter 1 Defining Manhood: The Function of Violence in Kenji Jasper’s dark and Sharon G. Flake’s Bang! 17
1 Defining Manhood The Function of Violence in Kenji Jasper’s dark and Sharon G. Flake’s Bang! Ever since I was a kid, I have noticed that boys were considered the “rough and tumble” sex, and girls were considered the sweet gentle ones. In fairy tales, cartoons, and movies geared toward children, girls are more often than not the ones placed in dangerous situations while boys are the ones to fight the villains and save the girls. Once I grow into an adult, I noticed that the story dynamics rarely change in the adult stories and movies—unless the au- thor was going for an ironic twist of fate or a shock value. Heroes seem to se- riously out number heroines time after time. And quite frankly, as a child, I liked it. Like most, young girls I did not see the need to fight my own battles when a “knight in shining armor” could do all the dirty work. As I became older, I began wondering why the girls could not fend for themselves and sought novels with female protagonists who could. However, while studying children’s literature, I began to wonder why the boys more often than not had to be the hero and why heroic behaviors often included violence. While vio- lent behavior is generally unbecoming of a girl, it seems to be mandatory for a boy. Why? In Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood, William Pollock writes about the “Boy Code” that seems to...
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