Young Adult Fiction and the American Short Story
Contextualization- Young Adult Fictions can come in a variety of ways, but share a common theme targeting individuals
scholars define as persons containing an age ranging from 12-18. During the Industrial Revolution that was taking place in
America in the late 1800s and early 1900s, children were more often working manual labor in order to provide money to a hungry
family then receiving an education. Upon the end of the revolution more opportunities were given to children and the literacy
rates greatly increased for young adults. This was an opportunities for writers to target a new audience in the literate society.
Predating the young adult era there were works of literature published that appeal to the age range, such as Oliver Twist,
Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Fin, and The Jungle Book.
Young Adult Fictions can vary in content, but generally carry a characteristic scholars define as Edgy. Currently in printing,
many young adult books carry content about illness, drugs, crime, violence, sexuality and divorce. This is a modern way of
teaching young adults by displaying an example situation which they can learn from. Other topics written about are adventure,
fantasy, and horror which young adults are commonly attracted to. Young adult fictions usually contain an adolescent protagonist.
This is used to familiarize young adults to the story, having an individual in the story around the same age as the reader.
Salient Points- With the new young adult fiction stories widely released, there were certain things achieved in society
that could not have occurred without the oncoming of the new genre. The minds of young adults shaped differently then in the
past, where few children obtained educations and most had a life of manual labor. The literature allowed minds to expand on
multiple levels furthering the imagination of children and allowing them to intellectually expand on there own. Also, with
young adults reading well written works of literature, they can begin to develop a heightened sense of writing and apply that
to there own education. Research has shown that children who read more often then others, develop reading skills better then
those who do not read as often. This research proves how important the introduction of the young adult genre is to society,
since more literature is available to young adults, they have the opportunity to read more which in the end develops a society
with better readers, or a more literate society.
A great example of a young adult fiction is the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling. This group of fantasy stories
contains an adolescent wizard who undergoes many trials while attending a school for wizards and witches. The main conflict
occurs between himself and Lord Voldemort who killed the father of Harry in order to conquer the wizard world. This amazing
group of stories has been read by many young adults due to the topic of fantasy and an ongoing plot line.
Influence on the Short Story- With the newly found genre being formed, the short story in America had nowhere to go but
grow. New and existing authors now had an opportunity to focus on a newly found branch of writing that specifically targets
young adults. With a new genre being present for short stories to explore, the overall writing of short stories could now
bloom. Many short stories have emerged having topics about immigrants living in the American society. This is a topic that
sells to a different side of young adulthood helping children cope with the many stresses that come with being a minority.
Overall, the introduction of Young Adult Fiction has caused an expansion in the literary world which allows writers to focus
on a greater variety of topics.
Connections to Our Class- Edgar Allan Poe wrote much literature that contained the topic of fantasy and horror. Although
he wrote many years before the onset of the young adult fiction, his stories are well read by young adults in the modern era.
Young adults are attracted to his works such as The Raven since it contains horror and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
of Nantucket since it is a fantasy.
Mark Twain is another author who was covered in classroom lecture and carries a large name in the young adult world. Mark
Twain wrote possibly the first great examples of young adult fiction although it predates the young adult era. With the writing
of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Fin, Twain captures the young adult mind with his adolescent characters that
undergo journeys and overpass obstacles in life.