Representations of Disability in Young Adult Literature
Chapter 2. Respect, Etiquette, and the Drama of Rude Behavior
RESPECT, ETIQUETTE, AND THE DRAMA OF RUDE BEHAVIOR
Some YA novels have sections that provide subtle or not-so-subtle suggestions to non-disabled people regarding how to interact with more respect toward disabled people. For readers who know enough, for example, to face—and not turn away from—people trying to read their lips, these built-in lessons on etiquette might seem obvious. But if readers don’t know, or haven’t had the opportunity to think about these common courtesies, the frustrations we see, for example, through the perspective of a deaf narrator—the drama of the scene—can cement these gestures of respect and consideration in a way a lecture or textbook list of rules cannot.
Who am I to collect and judge fictional scenes on disability protocol? This is a question I keep returning to as I work on this project. As I’ve mentioned previously, I am not currently disabled in the way that word is commonly used. Some of the authors including such scenes are not themselves disabled. How would they know, how would I know, what is good and bad behavior, assuming there is even a general consensus on this?
I cannot judge these scenes based on my personal experience. What I can say with some authority is this: The texts I write about in this chapter are among the very few novels I’ve encountered that substantially address the subject of what is courteous or rude behavior toward people with ← 51...
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