Date of Award

4-24-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Abstract

Literature is often a direct glimpse into another world, conveying messages from characters to help readers shape and define their own futures. Parents and guardians of children are often left searching for a way to use literature to explain the more difficult parts of life to child readers. Grief literature offers models of different grieving processes. Critic Mary Rycik was the first to coin the term "bibliotherapy" when she discussed the healing role that children's literature played for the traumatized child or young adult. When faced with loss and sorrow, characters will either heal and move on, or succumb to the grief they feel when a loved one dies. The novels in the following thesis: Hans Wilhelm's I 'll Always Love You ( 1990), Robert Munsch's Love You Forever ( 1999), Dwight Daniels' Grieving at Christmastime (2005), Ralph L. Klicker's Kolie and the Funeral (2002); S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders ( 1997), Rodman Philbrick's Freak the Mighty ( 1993) Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War ( 1974), and William Golding's Lord of the Flies ( 1954) all showcase characters making both healthy and unhealthy choices regarding grief. Progression plays a pivotal role, for as novels advance in intricacy, readers are presumably advancing in age. Young characters evolve from a reliance on their parents, to friends, and then ultimately decide alone how they want grief to affect them. Grief literature attempts to ready readers of all ages for death and the emotions associated with it. Grief literature offers answers during the tragic times when answers seem scarce. Ultimately death will not be something to be afraid of, but is seen as the great adventure touted by Peter Pan in J.M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy (1911) and Professor Dumbledore in J.K. Rowling's novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer 's Stone (1997). This is the very goal of grief literature; to turn sorrow into a story, and to turn that story' into life.

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