Jasper Jones- theme Notes Loss of Innocence



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Jasper Jones- Theme Notes

Loss of Innocence

Setting: The setting helps us understand the theme of loss of innocence as the climate is really hot and heated which reflects the ‘heated arguments’ in the novel.

Conflict - Corrigan vs. Jasper: The conflict between Corrigan and Jasper Jones helps us understand the theme of ‘Loss of Innocence’. Jasper is an outcast in Corrigan, and the prejudice against him shows how it can affect a person’s life and how they act.

Conflict - Charlie vs his parents: The conflict between Charlie and his parents helps us understand the theme of loss of innocence as Charlie originally didn’t fight back - he was obedient. But he eventually started standing up for himself and he was being defiant. This helps us understand the theme of loss of innocence as it shows us that people change and end up losing their innocence.

Character - Charlie: Charlie helps us understand the theme of loss of innocence as he goes through a progressive journey of loss of innocence. This is portrayed through the change in his relationships with other characters in the novel and his perspectives on what he believed was right and wrong and the exposure to the corruption in Corrigan.

Event- Jasper takes Charlie to see the body: This experience emphasizes Charlie’s loss of innocence as it is an experience that most people do not have ever encounter this situation and therefore it shows the reader his innocence is lost and makes this event memorable.

Event: When Eliza sees Laura commit suicide: Here we realise that many people go through a loss of innocence in many different circumstances.
Internal conflict: Whether or not Charlie should keep Laura’s death a secret- conflict between what is right and wrong. This is something that Charlie has never experienced before and having to lie to the people he cares about causes him to loss his innocence to progressively.

Purpose: What does Craig Silvey want us to learn from this? He wants to help us understand that everyone is forced to grow up, and not be as naive. It’s something that everyone has to experience and go through. It shows us that once your innocence is lost, it cannot be regained. The same perspectives you held, before you lost it.

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

Setting: The novel is set in Corrigan, West Australia in the summer of 1965. The town is small and everyone is affected by the hot, dry weather. People are affected as it causes them to become restless, irritable and unpredictable. They are experiencing pathetic fallacy: their emotions are influenced by the weather. The Vietnam War is also occurred during this time and Australia had just send troops to assist in Vietnam. In association with the weather, people are very angry and anti-Vietnam War. Since the town is relatively small, people are prejudice and tend to believe what authority says. However, they do not question what authority believes in. As a result, people blame Jeffery and his family for having Australian troops sent there, due to their nationality being Vietnamese. Jeffrey is called "Cong" by the cricket team and also excluded in the games when he wants to play. One night unexpectedly, Jeffrey's father's garden is destroyed by some locals and also experienced physical and verbal abuse.  This displays man's inhumanity to man as Jeffrey and his family are being harassed and abused due to their nationality, however they have done nothing in contribution to the Australian troops sent to Vietnam. It helps the readers understand that man's inhumanity to man can be caused due to a racism and a small town mentality, where people are influenced by the weather and authority.

Conflict- Corrigan vs. Jasper: Jasper is a half cast fourteen year old boy, who is an outcast in the town of Corrigan. He is constantly judged by people, thinking that he is a vandal and a thief. Whenever an incident occurs in Corrigan, people automatically assume that Jasper is the culprit. Thus he has gained himself a bad reputation for crimes he did not commit. Jasper's conflict with Corrigan is emphasised when the town's police interrogate him, but do this by harsh means. This includes burning him with cigarettes. However, people are unaware that Jasper's father is addicted to alcohol, so Jasper must steal food to survive. Man's inhumanity to man is displayed through Jasper's treatment by the people of Corrigan and authority. This helps the reader understand that people are prejudice and won't bother questioning the supposed "truth" because they believe authority. People are easily manipulated and this can result in unjustified treatment of people. It teaches the reader that people are corrupt and unjust.

Conflict- Charlie vs his mother: Charlie and his mother do not have a loving relationship. Charlie learns his mother is not a good person; she is a drunk, promiscuous and cruel. His mother's manipulative behaviour towards Charlie is an example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is not fair on Charlie to have a mother that doesn't love him. His mother is unhappy with her life, feeling trapped in her marriage and not satisfied with the life she lives. Silvey shows that people sometimes neglect others while they are focusing on their own issues. This helps the reader to understand that this is unfair on Charlie.

Character- Jeffrey: "Jeffrey's parents are Vietnamese so he's ruthlessly bullied". The novel is set in 1965 as the Vietnam War is beginning in which Australia has sent troupes of men to fight. Many people in Corrigan have lost people they know due to the war and now hate the Vietnamese. This results in racism towards Jeffery's family, in particular Jeffrey is "ruthlessly bullied" by the kids at school and around town. Although Jeffrey is constantly taunted he does not retaliate. This is endearing to Charlie as Jeffrey can with stand constant abuse for something he cannot control: his nationality. He acts as Charlie's distraction from Laura's death as his carefree, less than serious nature allows Charlie to feel young. Jeffrey helps the audience to understand the strength of those who are treated with inhumanity. Although Jeffrey is a talented cricket player the town chooses to discriminate against him, not allowing him to play in the team because of his race. When Jeffrey wins the match for the team the town is okay with him. Silvey shows how those who are constantly treated unfairly have great struggle to prove to others their worth, more so how unjust it is to demand someone to prove them self as the reasons behind the town’s inhumanity towards Jeffrey are not fairly justified.

Character- Laura: Laura lives with her father, mother and younger sister Eliza. Her dad is the Shire of Corrigan and is seen by the townspeople as a good man. However Laura’s dad abuses Laura at home, and only Eliza, her younger sister knows. Laura tries to get help but nobody believes her, because everyone trusts the Shire. This shows the inhumanity of Laura’s father, as he uses his power to hurt other people, including his daughter. This ultimately led to Laura’s suicide as she constantly got abused by her father and no one was there to believe her. This leads us to understand that people with power may use this to manipulate people, and it is hard for people who trust them to believe something different.

Event- Charlie and Jasper meet Mad Jack Lionel: As Charlie and Jasper meet Mad Jack Lionel the find out the truth about what really happened. Mad Jack Lionel was involved in a car crash killing Jaspers mother. However Corrigan changed the story and accused Mad Jack Lionel of killing a woman, saying he murdered her. From this point on he was outcast in the middle of the woods, forced to live alone in solitary. This shows us the inhumanity of Corrigan towards Mad Jack Lionel, as he never got a chance to explain himself, and was automatically outcast. This led Mad Jack Lionel to live a sad, lonely life, and he feels the consequences of the actions of Corrigan. This allows us to understand that small towns like to start drama, and like to have someone to blame things on, without even knowing the truth, which ultimately shows us man’s inhumanity to man.

Event- Jeffrey’s father’s garden gets destroyed and he gets beaten up. One night in the book Mr Lu, Jeffrey’s father, has his garden trashed by some citizens of Corrigan. His garden was his prised possession and it meant a lot to him. As well as this Mr Lu gets beat up too, for no apparent reason. We find out that he gets beat up because he is Vietnamese and at the time Australia was taking part in the Vietnam War. The people in Corrigan are anti-Vietnam War, and even though Jeffrey and his family aren’t even involved with the war, they get harassed just for being from the same country. This shows man’s inhumanity to man towards Jeffrey’s dad, as he is picked on and violated, without a reason. This shows how racism can cause people to be inhumane and horrible to others, and that when people have strong beliefs they will harm others, just for being different.

Internal conflict:

Charlie throughout the novel experienced a number of conflicting thoughts as he slowly but surely became aware of man’s inhumanity to man. When found out about Laura’s body, his first instinct is to tell someone, to trust someone. Through Jasper, he learns that you can’t always trust people as until you know who they really are, you are never aware of what they are capable of. Jasper is aware of this due to the cruelty he is subjected to as being half aboriginal. He sees the real side of the people in Corrigan unlike Charlie, who sees the side they put on for everybody. This leads to Charlie feeling confused as he was never previously aware of how cruel man can be to man. This realisation causes him to see other cruelties more clearly e.g. Jeffrey is constantly bullied for being of Vietnamese descent and no one intervenes to help or protect him, his mother gives him irrational punishments which Charlie can’t understand.



Purpose: What does Craig Silvey want us to learn from this?

Silvey wants us to learn that people sometimes do the things they do because of their own feelings and perspectives on the issue. Because of their own problems, they are unable to put themselves in someone else’s position and see the situation from their angle and the way it is affecting them. Because of this inability to understand and empathise with others, humans have the capability to hurt others inhumanely for the own personal agendas and misunderstandings. e.g. the man who beat Jeffrey’s dad up-blamed him for him being laid of work and the disappearance of Laura, Charlie’s mother-Unhappy with her own life and thought of herself without thinking of Charlie or his father. Ended up hurting Charlie emotionally in many ways, time and time again. Seen in our world e.g. Wars-with people there are always conflicts as no one can seem to see eye to eye. However, in these wars, it’s the innocent ones who get caught in the crossfire (children, woman, men who are not a part of the war). Same as Corrigan where the innocent ones (Charlie, Jeffrey and his family) where most affected by an issue which more or less initially had nothing to do with them.



The Boundaries between Truth and Lies

Setting: The setting within Jasper Jones plays a large part in showing the Theme of truth and lies. This is explained through the contrast between the two main settings within the town of Corrigan. The forest and the actual town. If we consider that in a way the forest stands for the truth and the town for lies then the theme is revealed. The forest knows how the events of Laura’s death played out and in knowing the truth the forest is calm and not in panic, fully understanding the events and why they happened. However the town does not know the truth and therefore lies are invented and chaos and panic occur as fear gets the best of the people in it. This of course also leads to blame and accusations as well.

Conflict- Corrigan vs. Jasper: This aspect of the novel helps the reader understand, the boundary between truth and lies, by showing example of both the lies we tell to others and ourselves.  The conflict is mainly caused by the town’s unfounded accusations and prejudice towards Jasper, which helps us understand how the boundary can be crossed when a lie is easier to believe in than the truth.  Although Jasper has never done anything really bad, and, in fact, deserves to be helped rather than persecuted, everyone (except for a few such as Charlie and Laura) takes the easier option and chooses to believe in the, wrong, common opinion, that Jasper is to blame for all negative events happening; causing Jasper to hate the town and become an outcast.  Not only does this mean, they do not have to confront their own, racist beliefs, but also have a scape goat and someone to blame and persecute when things go wrong.  An example of this conflict is when Jasper is beaten by the sheriff and mayor, for being a suspect in Laura's disappearance.  This develops the reader's understanding of the boundaries between truth and lies, by causing us to question our own judgements and opinions.  The towns, fervent belief in their completely wrong, unfounded opinions, makes the reader wonder about their own bias in relation to issues within and outside the text (such as racism, sexism and homophobia ), the boundary between the truth and lies in themselves and the ones they have been told by others.

Conflict- Charlie vs his parents: There is really only a large amount of said conflict between Charlie and his mother (Ruth) as his father (Wes) just tends to back off or slink away to his study. Now Charlie and his mother tend not to see eye to eye on quite a few issues. Some due to the fact the he is of course lying most of the time, others due to Ruth being a pretty horrible person and some of it is the normal type of arguments that teenagers and parents tend to have. The first would be Charlie constantly lying about where he is going and what he is doing. E.G when Charlie goes home after going to the forest with Jasper and Ruth & Wes have a huge fit. An example of it being mostly Ruth’s fault it when she forces Charlie to dig a hole in the garden which he is then told to fill up. An example of parent teenager conflict is through the events at which Charlie pops to the library but is slapper/ yelled at when he returns as he left the street. All these different events show the conflict between Charlie and Ruth and though Wes tends not to do anything it does agitate Charlie as he believes that Wes should stand up for himself and ‘be a man’.

Character- Charlie: Throughout the novel, Charlie begins to learn the boundary between truth and lies. Charlie starts to see the narrow-minded and prejudice attitude of the people in the town, especially towards his two friends, Jeffrey and Jasper. Having realised this truth, Charlie also understands that sometimes, lying is necessary to protect ourselves or people close to us. Charlie chooses not to tell the truth in order to protect Jasper. The town lies and simply blame everything on Jasper to protect themselves from the reality that they themselves are the bad people. Once Charlie realises all this, it enables him to grow in his understanding of the world and the concept of truth and lies. Once previously taught that he must follow rules and tell the truth, Charlie now realises that sometimes you need to break the rules and tell some lies to protect people from injustices.
Character- Eliza: During the novel there are many moments where Eliza is shown to be in the midst of truth and lies. Out of all the characters in the book Eliza is the only one who (for the majority) of the time knows the Truth about Laura (also the truth about her father) which means throughout the novel she is faced with the lies people have spun and begun to believe while only she knows the truth. However in knowing the truth she begins to lie and unlike Charlie her only reason to hide what she knows is out of guilt and grief (as Charlie hides the truth in loyalty to Jasper and fear of being accused). This causes her to lie about knowing where Laura went/ where she may be which leads people to spin their own theories and ideas.
Event- Eliza tells Charlie what she knows: Upon being told Eliza’s share of the story, Charlie realises that there are many unknown realities of the world, whether truthful or misleading. Nevertheless, there is a very fine boundary between them as they are often closely related. However, once he hears Eliza’s side of the story, Charlie discovers that there is no solution in overcoming the fine boundary between truth and lies as perspectives vary and often truth and lies are the same.
Event- Charlie and Jasper meet Mad Jack Lionel: This event shows how lies are often easier to believe and often the truth is twisted by people due to rage or a loss of understanding. The meeting between MJL, Charlie and Jasper tells us of course that MJL never actually killed anyone on purpose and the death of Jasper’s mother was entirely an accident. This of course proves that the rumours about MJL being a serial killer are complete lies. And though it has stemmed from the truth the actual events have been twisted by people due to not having all the events of that night and the fact that people just needed someone to blame.
Internal conflict- Charlie has many internal conflicts during the text.  One is the decision to tell try truth or lie (by omission) about finding Laura’s body.  This conflict reflects the theme of truth and lies, and relates to the purpose of the text.  Charlie’s thoughtfulness and consideration of his words and actions, instead of jumping to conclusions based on the circumstance, is at odds with the rest of the town’s bias, unfounded judgement.  This internal conflict causes the reader to think carefully about the text, and Charlie's actions (i.e. lying and resisting authority) contradict the values we are taught at school.  Seeing Charlie carefully think about the situation and his internal conflict, and choose to lie anyway, forces us to consider the validity of base values we are taught relating to truth and lies, and teaches us the importance of looking at things situationally, not jumping to conclusions, and that the truth may not always be the best thing to do, especially when protecting someone else.
Purpose: What does Craig Silvey want us to learn from this?

Through this theme of Truth and Lies, Silvey teaches us that not everything is black and white. Sometimes, telling the truth isn’t the right thing to do, such as if Charlie had told the police the truth about Laura’s disappearance (she’s dead), Jasper, an innocent boy, would have been blamed and arrested. Truth and lies throughout the book also shows us how much of a struggle it is to conceal the Truth from others even if it is the best course of action and often leads to a sort of cage that makes people feel limited and watched in the way they act and what they do. Silvey provides us the reader with an insight to this through the eyes of Charlie as he feels paranoid  and guilty a large amount of the time which forces him to act differently and constantly be aware of what people around him are doing and what they say.


The Corrupting Nature of Power
Setting: Corrigan is a small town; therefore people bestow trust in others, especially authoritative figures like the police, and president shire.   Because the town is rather small, prejudice and rumours also spread around fast which influences people’s mind-sets. The treatment to people who are from different countries shows how racist and cruel the people of Corrigan are.
Conflict- Corrigan vs. Jasper: Due to the prejudice thoughts already existing towards Aboriginals. Corrigan tends to always blame unfortunate events on Jasper and use him as the scapegoat. Given the circumstances, his behaviour allows readers to see the negative affect the isolation has on Jasper. Jasper is forced to create a front of not caring when in fact the corruption and judgment that is placed on Jasper forces him to be lonely and desperate for a normal life.
Character- Jasper: The corrupting nature of power is based largely on prejudice. Thus, Jasper is a character in the novel who is constantly blamed for the misdoings. Because of this, Jasper is the only character who realizes this corrupting nature of power. Jasper’s childhood was very different to everyone, he mother was not alive and his father did not care for him. This caused Jasper to steal and be rebellious in order for him to look after himself and care for himself. Because of these events, the whole town had prejudice against Jasper.
Minor Character- chooses one: Mad Jack Lionel. Everyone in the town believes in the rumours about Mad Jack Lionel that has been going on for years. The rumour is that he murdered his daughter in law, but the truth is that she died in car crash, while he was driving the car. Jack Lionel is an innocent man, but because of the stories about him which spread through the town, everyone in the town looks down on him and assumes he is mentally mad. We can see that his life must be very tough, if everyone judges him and doesn't treat him the same as everyone. Nobody even gives him the chance to speak and tell the truth which would be able to settle things.
Event- When the Corrigan Police beat up Jasper. When Laura’s body went missing the corrupted Corrigan police immediately blamed Jasper and once again used him as the scapegoat. The Police used their power and authority in the town to beat him up and also make the town believe that it was Jasper who kidnapped Laura. The people in power like the Corrigan Police are less likely to be questioned by the people. This shows how the Corrigan Police is able to use their power to manipulate the people.
Event- Laura and her dad’s conflict which shows us that her dad isn’t as reasonable as he seems. This shows corruption of power because fathers have power over their daughters and he was abusing his authority as a father by hitting her. He didn’t help Laura’s situation at all and let the truth behind the town affect his relationship with his daughter. The truth behind the town reflects on Laura’s dad as an unworthy leader of Corrigan.
Internal conflict: Charlie whether to trust Jasper or not. He is influenced by both the helps us understand that sometimes lying is not that negative as in this case it helped save an innocent person which is Jasper. Before Charlie met Jasper, his town’s opinions of Jasper and his own trusting instinct. He cannot tell anyone about the secret as he is trying to protect Jasper from the town. This is because the town automatically will assume that Jasper murdered Laura. Charlie’s internal conflict is that fact that he has to lie to everyone he knows in order to protect his friend. This thought of Jasper in a negative way due to everyone in the town spreading rumours about him. When Charlie met Jasper he realised that those rumours were all not true, but it still took him some time to fully be able to trust Jasper.
Purpose: What does Craig Silvey want us to learn from this? Corrupting nature of power. The government has a heavy influence of power on Corrigan as it is a small town. This means the government is very influential towards everyone’s opinions of Jasper. The corruption nature of power is dominant over people’s natural instincts, and influences people’s opinions towards what is morally correct and wrong. People should learn to challenge the authority as they only portray a superficial image.


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