1 PERPETRATING JUSTICE: REPRESENTA TIONS OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM IN CHILDRENS AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE By RAMONA ANNE CAPONEGRO A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010
2 2010 Ramona Anne Caponegro
3 To my parents
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I owe enormous debts of gratitude to my di rector, Kenneth Kidd, whose calm affability soothes and grounds me, and to John Cech, whose excitement and enthusiasm inspire me. I also need to thank my other supportive committee members: David Leverenz, Linda Lamme, and Nancy Dowd. A huge thank you goes to Lisa Dusenberry, who read all of my chapters, and to Cari Keebaugh, who read several sections. And thank you to the following people for their words of encouragement and their help ov er the years: Eve Cech, Rita Smith, Anastasia Ulanowicz, Marsha Br yant, Katheryn Russell-Brown Shelley Frasier Mickle, Susan Raab, Cathlena Martin, Horacio Si erra, Jaimy Mann, David Canelas, and the members of GCADP. For their gifts of fun, food, and distraction, I thank Rachel Slivon, Megan Leroy, and Lisa Dusenberry. Lisa and Meg especially went beyond the call of friendship in helping me through the last part of the di ssertation process, and my appreciation is beyond words. Lastly, my deepest thanks go to my parents, who will probably be even happier than I am to see a finished dissertation.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDG MENTS .................................................................................................. 4ABSTRACT ..................................................................................................................... 7CHAPTER 1 INTRODUC TION ...................................................................................................... 9Questions of Categorization: Radical and/or C onservative ..................................... 15Finding a Framework: Childr ens Books about the Legal S ystem as Multicultural Childrens Literature ............................................................................................ 202 ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BARS: CHILD CHA RACTERS WITH A PARENT IN PRISON .............................................................................................. 29Statistically Challenged or Challenging Statistics?: Portrayals of Criminal Offenses, Gender, Cla ss, and Race .................................................................... 33Personal Realities and Representations: Daily Life for Child Characters with Incarcerated Parents ........................................................................................... 45Stigmatizing and Normalizing: Perceptions of Children with Parents in Prison ....... 613 MARKING CHANGE, CONTINUITY, AND THE PASSAGE OF TIME: HISTORICAL FICTION ABOUT PRISONS ............................................................. 75Becoming Historical: Books from t he Baldwin Librar y about Pr isons ...................... 79Intentionally Historic: Contemporary Wor ks of Historical Fiction about Prisons ...... 92Reaching Back to Go Beyond: Can Histo rical Fiction Prom ote Contemporary Prison Re form? .................................................................................................. 1114 LOSSES AND GAINS: POWER DYNAMICS AMONG FICTIONAL JUVENILE OFFENDERS AND THE JUVENI LE JUSTICE SYSTEM ..................................... 120Before Encountering the System: Indivi dual Losses and Surrenders of Power .... 125Accepting Your Place: Power St ructures within the Syst em ................................. 131Trying to Move On: Struggles to Regain Pe rsonal Po wer ..................................... 141Images Offered: The Po wer of Representation ..................................................... 1495 TRIALS AND THEIR TRIBULATIONS: PERFORMANCES OF (IN) JUSTICE ...... 158Peering into the Pensieve: Trials in the Harry Potter Series ................................. 164In Place of the Pensieve: Tr ials in Realis tic Fiction ............................................... 1806 CONCLUSION: THE JURY S STI LL OUT ............................................................ 197
6 LIST OF RE FERENCES ............................................................................................. 199BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................... 206
7 Abstract of Dissertation Pr esented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulf illment of the Requirements for t he Degree of Doctor of Philosophy PERPETRATING JUSTICE: REPRESENTA TIONS OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM IN CHILDRENS AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE By Ramona Anne Caponegro August 2010 Chair: Kenneth Kidd Major: English Childrens books about the legal system have been published in America and England since Victorian times, but, throughout the last two decades, the criminal justice system gained a larger and more visible presenc e in childrens literat ure, both in works that uphold the integrity of legal practi ces and in works that critique the system. Representations of the legal system are of fered to child readers of all ages through picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult fiction and through a variety of genres, including realistic fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy. Though these works focus on different aspects of the legal system, like incarcerated parents, prisons, juvenile delinquency, and trials, they usua lly place greater emphasis on individuals within the system rather than on the system itself, ultimately upholding the status quo of the legal system. This resistance to advocatin g for institutional changes can be seen as conservative, but the books willingness to address sensitiv e subjects, like prisons and crime, is also progressive, so these boo ks as a whole cannot be uniformly categorized as conservative or liberal. The books can, however, be read as examples of multicultural childrens literature because they provide representations of a distinct group of people who are frequently
8 feared, ignored, or dismissed by society. Yet while individuals whose lives are closely affected by the criminal justice system consti tute a specific group that shares a common culture, these individuals also come from a variety of other distinct cultural groups, which influence the different experiences that they have within the legal culture, as well as the rejection that they may receive from society. These other cultural memberships, like gender, race, and class, may also not always be fully portrayed, as these books struggle to find a balance between accurate ly representing the incarcerated population and avoiding harmful ster eotypes about criminals. By examining these books as examples of multicultural literature and as an important subset of childrens literature that does not receive much scholarly attention, Perpetrating Justice strives to give a balanced view of the trials and tribulations associated with representing t he legal system in works for, about, and read by children.
9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION When I started this project, people war ned me that I would not find enough material to sustain it; now I know that I have far too much material to condens e into a single dissertation. Once you start looking fo r crime in childrens literature, you discover that it is everywhere. Crimes are co mmitted against characters selves, against property, against individuals, institutions and all of humanity. Innocent people are falsely accused of crimes in nearly every genre. Child and adolesc ent characters are frequently victims, as well as perpetrators, of crime, and children and teens routinely act as detectives. Yet often, crimes are never of ficially investigated, and the offenders are never prosecuted or punished by the law. Private, personal, or karmic justice may prevail, as in the case of many fairy tales, fables, and juvenile detective stories. Other time s, obtaining justice, at least in the sense of finding and punishing the guilty party, is not even the point of the stories. For example, in Beverly Clearys Dear Mr. Henshaw (1983), Leigh Botts is ultimately happy that he never identifies the lunch thief. He is proud that he st opped the thefts by constructing a burglar alarm for his lunch box, but he is relieved that the thief did not trigger the alarm and get caught because he does not want the thief to be in trouble, especially when his or her stea ling may stem from family pr oblems, an issue with which Leigh, a child of a recent divorce, can sym pathize (Cleary 98-104). Similarly, in Laurie Halse Andersons Speak (1999), Melinda Sordino spends mo st of her freshman year of high school in silence, reeling from an unr eported rape. When her rapist corners and threatens her for a second time, she is fina lly able to voice her dissent and to silence him with a shard of glass held at his throat before the girls lacrosse team appears
10 ( Speak 193-195). This exposure of Melindas attacker goes a long way in redeeming Melindas reputation at school, though no menti on is ever made of the school authorities or the police getting involved, but Melindas recovery and regaining of her voice and sense of self are not dependent on external factors, like the approbat ion of her peers or even the prosecution of her attacker. Though the majority of crimes in childrens literature1 are not addressed in a formal legal setting, many booksprobably more than you might thinkexamine aspects of criminal justice systems. These boo ks have been published in America and Great Britain at least since Victorian times, but, throughout the 1990s and the 2000s, the criminal justice system gained a larger and more visible presence in childrens and young adult literature, bot h in works that uphold the integr ity of the law an d its practices and in works that critique the system. This unprecedented rise in the number of childrens books published about the legal syst em in recent years can likely be explained by the American cultural fascinat ion with trials and crime dramas, by the relaxing attitude towards many previously t aboo subjects in childrens literature, like prisons and violent crime, and especially by the increased number of incarcerated Americans. On February 29, 2008, The New York Times reported, For the first time in the nations history, more than one in 100 American adults are behind bars, according to a new report [by the Pew Center on the States]. Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million, after th ree decades of growth that has seen the prison popul ation nearly triple. Another 723,000 people are in local 1 When using the term childrens literature, I am also referring to young adult literature, which I consider as a subfield within the larger field of childrens liter ature. Only in Chapter Four do I differentiate between young adult novels and childrens books for younger r eaders. Also, for varietys sake, I interchange the terms legal system and criminal justice system thro ughout this project, recognizing that the terms are not quite identical.
11 jails (Liptak np). As a correlation to this ev er increasing prison pop ulation, [m]ore than 2.3 million children in the United States have a parent in prison (Martone 15). Like the populations that t hey describe, the audience for books about the criminal justice system has expanded as well. Childr ens books about the legal system published in the late nineteenth and early twentieth ce ntury were aimed chiefly at an audience of older children and adolescents. But, as Michael Cart observe s, the genre of young adult literature is addressing a younger and younger audience (10) and subjects that were once perceived as only appropriate for teens and older children now enter works for younger children as well. Consequently, t here are now numerous books for middle schoolers, as well as a handful of picture bo oks, which introduce readers to aspects of the criminal justice system. Yet scholarship about these books has not c aught up with the markets growth. In the field of law and literat ure studies, Ian Wards Law and Literature: Possibilities and Perspectives (1995) is significant because Ward in cludes childrens literature in his discussion of law in literature.2 But he only addresses older, canonical works3 that explore the legal system in allegorical, abs tract, or philosophical ways, and he limits his analysis of these stories to the phenomenon of double vision, comparing how the law presented in these books appears differently to child and adult readers. In more recent years, legal scholars have focused on J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series, publishing 2 The field of law and literature studies is roughly divided into law in literature and law as literature. As Ward explains, Essentially, law in literature examines the possible re levance of literary texts, particularly those which present themselves as telling a legal stor y, as texts appropriate for study by legal scholars. Law as literature, on the other hand, seeks to apply the techniques of literary criticism to legal texts (Ward 3; italics in original). 3 The childrens books that Ward includes in his study are Beatrix Potters picture books, Lewis Carrolls Alices Adventures in Wonderland Rudyard Kiplings Jungle Books Mark Twains Adventures of Huckleberry Finn William Goldings Lord of the Flies and Jonathan Swifts Gullivers Travels
12 articles and even entire jour nal issues about these books,4 while still overlooking the many other, lesser known childrens works that raise questions about legal systems. Literary scholars have also barely investigated this rich body of work, only publishing a few scattered articles about the criminal just ice system portrayed in specific books, like Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) and Mildred D. Taylors Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976). And, while the fi eld of education offers numerous volumes about the importance of a social justice curriculum in schools to teach children about issues of racism, sexism, classism, ableism, heterosex ism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of discrimination, these volumes do not incl ude strategies or recommended readings for teaching about the criminal justice system.5 Initially, such oversight in these three fields is surprising, especially since childrens literature offers myriad represent ations of the legal system, but childrens issues are often sidelined, bot h in literature and legal studies, as well as in life. While children are at the center of education, the issue may receive less scholarly attention in 4 Some of the law in literature articles that have been published about the Harry Potter books are: Kidlit as Law-and-Lit: Harry Potter and the Scales of Justice by William P. MacNeil (2002); Harry Potter and the Rule of Law: The Central Weakness of Legal C oncepts in the Wizard World by Susan Hall (2003); Harry Potter and the Unforgivable Curses: Norm-formation, Inconsistency, and the Rule of Law in the Wizarding World by Aaron Schwabach (2005); and A gents of the Good, Servants of Evil: Harry Potter and the Law of Agency by Daniel S. Kleinberger (2007). The journal issue devoted to the series is Harry Potter and the Law, Texas Wesleyan Law Review by Timothy S. Hall et al (2005). 5 Some of the education guides that advocate for a so cial justice curriculum in schools but do not address issues of the criminal justice syst em within these curriculums are: Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin (1997); Teaching for Social Justice edited by William Ayers, Jean A nn Hunt, and Therese Quinn (1998); Class Actions: Teaching for Social Justice in Elementary and Middle School edited by JoBeth Allen (1999); Readings for Diversity and Social Justice edited by Maurianne Adams et al (2000); Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word by Linda Christensen (2000); Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice, Volume One edited by Bill Bigelow et al (2002); Parallel Practices: Social Justice-Focused Teacher Education and the Elementary School Classroom by Barbara Regenspan (2002); Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice by Kevin Kumashiro (2004); and Social Studies for Social Justice: Teaching Strategies for the Elementary Classroom by Rahima Wade (2007).
13 this field both because it is controversial and because it is less visible than other social justice topics. Nevertheless, closer examin ations of childrens books about the criminal justice system are certainly warranted. As Ward states, For the overwhelming majority who nev er engage in an immediate study of law, these early encounters with legal literature may well be the only occasion when these issues are ev er seriously considered and when decisions might be reached. Only a tiny minority of the community will ever study law after the ages of around 18 or 19, but the vast majority who encounter a reasonably wide spectrum of childrens literature will already have engaged in the jurisprudential deb ate. If legal language is, to use Foucaults phrase, a specialized kno wledge, then literat ure, and especially childrens literature, can serve to de-s pecialise it, and for that it should be treasured. (Ward 117-118) In particular, books that are specifically about the legal system provide child and teen readers with opportunities to l earn about the law, both in t he present and in the past, from a variety of perspectives and to consi der changes that they may desire to promote and work towards regarding the legal system in the future. Of course, children are exposed to in formation about the legal system through channels other than books. They learn about the system through social studies and government classes, through wh at they hear from their parents, neighbors, and peers, and sometimes through their own experiences with the system. They can also watch a large number of television shows and movies about the criminal justice system. Often, these shows and films are aim ed at an adult audience, but children and teens still watch them regularly. Other times, the shows and films are made for a general or even a child audience. For example, the 1933 movie, Wild Boys of the Road exposed young viewers to courtroom scenes, which do not appear to be prevalent in the childrens books of the era, not to m ention teenagers brawls at ra ilroad depots with police and railway officers. Similarly, the 2005 film version of Kate DiCamillos popular book,
14 Because of Winn Dixie which already introduced elementary school children to a shy, guitar playing ex-con, increased its comment ary on the criminal justice system by adding the character of a mean, egotistical police officer whose harassing, slapstick high jinks contributed nothing of value to the movies plot. Finally, there are theatre performances, detective kits, and even video games6 designed to teach children about the legal system. If I could, I would explore all of the different sour ces and media that influence childrens and teens understandings of the l egal system, but, alas, I cannot, so this project focuses on fictional works about the legal system fo r children and adolescents. I concentrate chiefly on the representations of the legal system designed for an American audience, so my work draws primarily fr om American writers and publishers, though I also use works from Great Britain, particularly when they have been published in the United States or have proven to be popular with American child ren. (Not surprisingly, other countries have stories about their ow n legal systems.) Furthermore, while the publication dates of the books included in th is research span over one hundred and fifty years, the majority of the text s addressed were written in the Victorian era or in the last twenty years, two periods in which pr isons grew exponentially, simultaneously prompting public debate about the role of th e criminal justice system in society. I have also restricted my literary sample to focus attention on several key and recurrent concerns in childrens books about the criminal justice system: child characters with an incarcerat ed parent, historical fiction about prisons, the juvenile 6 The website Our Courts: 21st Century Civics, a program conceived by Just ice Sandra Day OConnor, offers three video games designed to teach student s about their civil rights and the American legal system. For more information, go to http://ourcourts .org/. There are also courtroom Nintendo DS (Dual Screen) games, including Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and its sequels, the latest of which is Apollo Justice.
15 justice system, and criminal trials. Perhaps su rprisingly, childrens literature offers an amazing array of topics and perspectives rela ted to the legal system, including books about political prisoners, like Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harriss Girl in a Cage (2002) and Gloria Whelans The Impossible Journey (2003), and books about children in the witness protection program, like Jacqueline Woodsons Hush (2002). There are also novels told from the perspectives of the ch ildren of executioners and prison guards, including Laura E. Williamss The Executioners Daughter (2000), Elvira Woodruffs The Ravenmasters Secret (2003), and Gennifer Choldenkos Al Capone Does My Shirts (2004) and Al Capone Shines My Shoes (2009). All of these books provide information about and insights into legal systems, but I c hose to focus on the four topics mentioned above because they occur most frequently in childrens books about the criminal justice system. Moreover, these works offer a bal ance of conservative and progressive ideologies, while also provid ing representations of a par ticular cultural grouppeople whose lives have been drastically affected by the legal systemwhich makes these books works of multicultural childrens literature. Questions of Categorization: Radical and/or Conservative In examining such a politically charged topic as the criminal justice system, questions about the ideologies behind the childrens books on this topic inevitably arise. Do these books tend to be conservative or liber al, even radical or subversive, in their approach to the legal system? Can they easily be categorized according to such ideologies, which are difficult to define themselves? Such questions mirror a larger debate taking place within the field of childrens literature as a whole, where scholars argue about the conservativeness or progressi veness of the fields contents and trends.
16 Certainly, most of the books for child ren and teenagers, including stories that involve crimes and even the formal legal s ystem, do not openly advocate a political or social agenda. Yet, in Tales for Little Rebels: A Colle ction of Radical Childrens Literature (2008), Julia L. Mickenberg and Philip Ne l assert, Stories that uphold the status quo (arguably the majority of wor ks published for children) may not seem political, but they represent efforts to teach children that the current social, political, economic, and environmental orders are as they should be (1). Such conservative reinforcements about the adequacy and desirab ility of existing systems underlie many childrens books about the legal system, especially in works centered on prisoners, juvenile delinquents, and their families. T he focus in these books rests on individuals, usually those who have damaged their own lives and their families lives by entering the criminal justice system. The system generally remains faceless, but, when an individual officer of the court becomes a central characte r, that character is usually good, implying that the system that he or she represents is also good or at least benign. Very few questions about alternatives or improvements to the existing crimi nal justice system are made, even in the books about unfair trials, becaus e the injustices identified in the legal proceedings stem more frequently from the prejudices of i ndividuals rather than the miscalculations of the court or the arbitrarine ss of the law. As conservative as these books can be in their upholding of the status quo, the same books can also be considered inherentl y progressive or radical because they address such a sensitive and frequently undi scussed subject. Their classification depends largely on what definition of radical is being used. For example, according to Jack Zipes, A radical literature, especially a radical childrens literature, wants to
17 explore the essence of phenomena, experi ences, actions, and social relations and seeks to enable young people to grasp the basic conditions in which they live (qtd in Mickenberg and Nel vii). All of the books discussed offer some perspective on the criminal justice system, provid ing young readers with insights in to a part of the society in which they live, however distant it may s eem to their lives, so each of these works appears to fit Zipess definition, even though some of the books explore the system more thoroughly than others. Similarly, in Radical Change: Books for Youth in a Digital Age (1999), Eliza T. Dresang asserts, Radical Change means fundamental c hange, departing from the usual or traditional in literature for youth, although still related to it (4-5; italics in original). Dresang argues that there are th ree types of Radical Change in childrens literature: Type One Radica l Change literature focuses on new forms, formats, and organizational styles for books (19); Type Tw o Radical Change literature involves new perspectives and narrative voices (24) ; and Type Three Radical Change literature introduces new subjects, settings, and charac ters to the field (26). While certain childrens books about the criminal justic e system fit within each of Dresangs three categories, Type Three Radi cal Change literature most broadly defines the body of works examined in this project. Childre ns books about prisons, courtrooms, and convicts have been available in small numbers at least since the Victorian era, but, in the last 20 years, a far greater number of these books were published for new generations, featuring new characters, new scenarios, and new, more vivid, and more diverse portrayals of the legal system.
18 If Dresangs and Zipess definitions of radi cal childrens literat ure seem overly broad and inclusive, then Herbert Kohl s definition is the opposite. In Should We Burn Babar?: Essays on Childrens Litera ture and the Power of Stories (1995), Kohl states, Though there is a great deal of compassionat e, liberal literature for young adults on sensitive issues, it is hard to find any radi cal literature on the same topics (59). Indeed, Kohl, working from a clear le ftist-Marxist tradition, c an only identify two existing childrens novels that he considers radical, as well as a few other novels and picture books that come close to the mark.7 His inability to identify more radical works of childrens literature stems from the characteri stics that he assigns to his definition of a radical childrens book: a focus on communi ty growth and development rather than on an individual characters growth and dev elopment, collective action, an evil but thoroughly knowable e nemy, an emphasis on comradeship as distinct from friendship and love, and no guaranteed resolution, let alone a happy ending (Kohl 66-68). Though Kohl does not define compassionate, liberal literature for young adults (59), I assume that at least some of the books that I di scuss would qualify as such, especially those that critique the system or at least the im perfect humans who comprise it, but none of these books encompasses all of the criteria that Kohl sets forth in order for a book to be deemed radical. Very few works do since seve ral of Kohls criteria, especially the valuing of a communitys growth over an i ndividuals growth and the rejection of happy 7 The two books that Kohl considers to be works of radical childrens literature are Geoffrey Treases Bows Against the Barons (1934), a retelling of Robin Hood as a co nscientious social reformer rather than an outlaw who only steals from the rich, and Treases Comrades for the Charter (1934), a story of two poor boys who, in 1839, join the Chartist movement designed to bring democracy to Europe (Kohl 68-75). Kohl also recommends Virginia Hamiltons The Planet of Junior Brown (1971) and Vera Williams trilogy, A Chair for My Mother (1982), Something Special for Me (1983), and Music, Music for Everyone (1984) as books that come close to being radical (75-82).
19 endings, rightly or wrongly go against t he standard practices inherent in Western childrens and young adult literature. Whereas Kohls definition of radical childr ens literature is high ly exclusionary, the definition of subversive literature that Alis on Lurie champions in Dont Tell the GrownUps: The Subversive Power of Childrens Literature (1990) is far less rigid. Lurie considers subversive books to be t hose that recommendedeven celebrated daydreaming, disobedience, answering back, running away from home, and concealing ones private thoughts and feelings from unsympat hetic grown-ups (x). In contrast to these books, Lurie declares that characte rs in books designed to instill values and proper decorum learned to depend on authority for help and advice. They also learned to be hardworking, responsible, and practical; to stay on the track and be content with their lot in life (x). Like Dresangs Radi cal Change literature, Lur ies categories of subversive and non-subversive books do not have the political element that the definitions of Kohl or even Zipes include, but many of the childrens books about the legal system incorporate aspects of both subversive and non-subversi ve literature. The protagonists are often disobedi ent and rebellious, or they dr eam of a life in which the criminal justice system does not intrude. Neve rtheless, some of the characters do seek help from adults, even within the legal syst em, and most of the books emphasize the importance of maturity and caretaking, which include hard work and responsible, pragmatic decision making. In the end, childrens books about the legal system as a whole cannot be uniformly categorized as conservative, liberal, radi cal, or subversive. There are too many variables among individual books and among definit ions of classifications. As Kimberley
20 Reynolds states in Radical Childrens Literature: Future Visions and Aesthetic Transformations in Juvenile Fiction (2007), [C]hildrens liter ature provides a curious and paradoxical cultural space: a space that is simultaneously highly regulated and overlooked, orthodox and radical, didactic and s ubversive (3). This ambiguity holds true for the books discussed in this project, as we ll as for the entire field of childrens and young adult literature. A dditionally, Reynolds recalls, It is not accidental that at decisive moments in social history children have been at the center of ideological activity or that writing for children has been put into the serv ice of those who are trying to disseminate new world views, values, and so cial models (2). Specifica lly regarding childrens works on the criminal justice system, in which few alte rnatives or alterations to the system are presented, the books may seem conservative or invested in maintaining the status quo of the system. But, even though very few books advocate for changes to the existing legal system, some of the books do raise qu estions about human factors, such as racism, sexism, classism, and outsider status in the community, which can taint legal and judicial outcomes. The majority of t he books also introduce sympathetic characters whose lives have been affected by the crimi nal justice system, either positively or negatively, and whom young readers may reme mber later when they are given the opportunity to make real world decisions about the legal system. Finding a Framework: Childrens Books a bout the Legal Sy stem as Multicultural Childrens Literature Though the ideologies of childrens boo ks about the legal system may vary considerably, these works can be considered as examples of multicultural childrens literature. As with other wo rks for children and teenagers that address sensitive issues, the need for multicultural childrens literat ure has been debated since its inception.
21 Different academic schools of thought about how multicultural childrens literature should be understood have emerged as well. Ea rly studies in this area examined only books about specific races and ethnicities whereas later scholars expanded the categories of multicultural ch ildrens literature to include other groups of people who face oppression stemming from issues of religion, gender, sex ual orientation, socioeconomic class, and physical and mental challenges. Still other scholars, rather than focusing on specific, often underrepres ented groups, contend that all individuals are multicultural in the sense that each person belongs to mult iple social groups, so all literature is theref ore multicultural. Considered the foundational ac ademic text on multicultu ral childrens literature, Rudine Simss8 Shadow and Substance: Afro-American Experience in Contemporary Childrens Fiction (1982) develops three categories to describe childrens books about African Americans publis hed between 1965 and 1979. The first category, Social Conscience Books, contains works in which the characters race creates problems that must be acknowledged and solved, typically by the development of a social conscience in other, usually white, characters (Sim s 17-31). The second category, Melting Pot Books, features characters who are as homogeneous as possible, portraying racial differences as only skin deep and denying the ex istence of cultural differences (Sims 33-46). The final category, Culturally Conscious Books, fully conveys and celebrates the cultural distinctions, experiences, and tradi tions of African Americans (or any other group) (Sims 49-73). Simss thr ee categories of multicultura l childrens literature have 8 Shortly after the publication of Shadow and Substance: Afro-Americ an Experience in Contemporary Childrens Fiction Rudine Sims married and took her husbands la st name, so all of her later work, most of which addresses multicultural childrens literat ure, appears under the name of Rudine Sims Bishop.
22 been adapted to fit childrens books about ot her minority groups, including Jewish Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americ ans. In the most recent adaptation of Sims three-tiered model, Michael Cart and Christine A. Jenkins document the development of GLBTQ young adult literature, renaming Si mss three categories as Homosexual Visibility, Gay Assimilation, and Queer Consciousness/Community (xix-xx). Simss categorization system has been integral to the study of multicultural childrens literature, and childrens boo ks about the legal system can easily be organized and discussed in terms of her ca tegories. But other developments in multicultural childrens literature, in which such clear-cut classification systems are deliberately avoided and greater emphasis is placed on the overall educational goals of the literature, are more relevant to this pr oject. It is undoubtedly important for childrens books to feature groups of people, like prisoners and their families, who have frequently been denied a voice by society, but it is equa lly, if not more, important, to question the power dynamics in society that contributed to these peoples marginalization. To promote this questioning, Maria Jos Bo telho and Masha Kabakow Rudman developed critical multicultural analysis, in which, T he critical in critical multicultural analysis means keeping the power relations of cla ss, race, and gender at the center of our investigations of childrens literature, thus connecting ou r reading to sociopolitical and economic justice. Multicultur al signals the diverse historic al and cultural experiences within these power relations (271). T hough Botelho and Rudman overstate the difference between their own critical multicultural analysis and other studies of multicultural childrens literature, the exploration of overlapping cultural identities and
23 power relations among the oppressed and the oppressors is central in examining the representations of people in the legal syst em in books for children and young adults. After all, individuals whose lives are clos ely affected by the criminal justice system constitute a distinct group of people who are frequently feared, ignor ed, or dismissed by mainstream society. Yet, wh ile individuals in this gr oup do share a common culture created by the legal system, as well as their own actions, they also come from a variety of other cultural groups, which influence the different experiences that they have within the legal or prison culture, as well as t he amount and type of rejection that they may receive from society. Also, within the legal and prison cultures themselves, the power dynamics between the oppressed and the oppr essors are affected by the power dynamics of other cultural factor s, such as race, class, and gender. Like other works of multicultural childre ns literature, childrens books about people involved in the legal system attempt to prov ide representations of a minority group in society, one that is particularly rife with pow er struggles, in ways that are both accurate and non-stereotypical. As Donna L. Gilton explains in Multicultural and Ethnic Childrens Literature in the United States (2007), The creators an d promoters of this [multicultural] literature have always had several goalsto tell t heir own stories, to share their cultures and histories with a variety of young people and more indirectly, to address and counteract cultural stereoty pes (28). Many of the child rens books about the criminal justice system seek to challenge readers assumptions about criminals and prison life, while asking readers to questions their notions of fairness as well. Most of these works also provide accurate, well-researched a ccounts of trials, pr ison conditions, and common obstacles facing those who have a parent in prison, those who have been
24 released from prison, and thos e who are on probation. Bec ause few of these works of fiction have been written by someone who has been on trial, served time, or had a parent in prison, however, the issue of cultural authenticity, at least in the sense of the authors need to belong to the gr oup that they are writing about in order for their work to be truly authentic, is not as central here as it is in works of multicultural childrens literature about other groups.9 Another important distinction between multicultural childrens literature about people whose lives are closely tied to t he legal system and about other groups of people is the tone in which the cultural di stinctions about the group are expressed. Gilton states, Multiculturalism is applied cultural diversity. At its best, it enables all to participate in the general U.S. public culture and to maintain their own cultural base.If done well, it also encourages people to be interested not only in themselves but in their neighbors as well (20). Writ ers of childrens books about the legal system certainly want to attract a wider audience of r eaders than children and teenagers whose lives are personally affected by the system, and most of the authors strive to increase readers awareness of the criminal justice system and its distinct cult ural base. But, while many 9 As Gilton explains, There are three sc hools of thought on cultural authenticity: Multicultural literature should be written by all The authors own background should not make a difference. Write what you know People not belonging to a culture sh ould not write on that culture. Only members of a culture should write their own story A writers background will determine how well he or she describes the culture under consideration. Background makes a definite difference as people write about a culture new or unknown to them Most of the time, works by members of cult ural groups are much more authentic than those from the outside. However, people not indigenous to a group can learn enough about a culture new to them to do a good job How much or what kind(s) of preparation necessary for this is open to much debate. Also, some cultural group members may not know their own culture that well and may make errors writing about or illustrating a story about their own culture or a related one (81-82; italics in original). Some of the fictional works discussed in this project were written by people with a relative in prison or by former teachers or counselors in pris ons and juvenile detention facilities, but most of the authors admit that they were not ov erly familiar with the legal system before beginning their novels. Also, while I could not find any childrens fiction about the le gal system written by inmates or former inmates, there are two works of childrens non-fiction about t he criminal justice system penned by people who are or have been incarcerated: Jack Gantoss Hole in My Life (2002) and Stanley Tookie Williamss Life in Prison (1998).
25 works of multicultural childrens literature celebrate a cultures uniqueness, childrens books about the legal system cannot do so as they do not want to want to glorify this culture. Instead, many of these books struggle with the dilemma of how to value the lives and dignity of prisoners without ei ther promoting a prison sentence as an acceptable part of life or dismissing inmates as irrelevant or irredeemable. Despite this difference from many other wo rks of multicultural childrens literature, childrens books about the legal system can still be productively understood through the framework of multicultural childrens literature. As Botelho and Rudman explain, The metaphors of mirrors and windows have often framed the scholarship of multicultural childrens literatur e. Children need to see themselves reflected so as to affirm who they and their communities are. They also require windows through which they ma y view a variety of differences. Books are one way they learn about the world. Once these foundations of story and society are internalized, literature can bec ome a conduita doorto engage children in social practices that function for social justice. (1) In organizing the diverse materials fo r my project, I hav e employed the multicultural metaphors of mi rrors, windows, and doors to address what appears to be the primary goal of each of the four groups of books I ex amine, with each group of books focusing on one of the four key concerns identified ear lier: child characters with an incarcerated parent, historical fiction about prisons, the juvenile justice system, and criminal trials. While I consider the use of the multicultural metaphors helpful in organizing my research and in identifying the main objectives of these books, I also confess that these metaphors have their limit ations. For example, though a particular book may serve as a mirror for a child with a par ent in prison, allowing that child to see a character like herself in a book, it may al so function as a window for another child, permitting him to learn about the criminal justice system and, hopefully, to empathize
26 with the books character and with real-life children in the same situation. I also like to think that any of these books could serv e as a door, encouraging child readers to apply what they have learned from the books to their own understandings of and actions in the world, both now as children and later as adults. But the books themselves often seem to prioritize one of these three met aphors (and its aims), and so I have structured my chapters accordingly. The idea of childrens literature as a mirro r is primarily exami ned in Chapter Two, On the Other Side of the Bars : Child Characters with a Pa rent in Prison, the only chapter that includes picture books, most of which appear to be written for children in similar circumstances as the characters in the stories. The novels for older readers also easily allow children whose parents are behind bars to i dentify with the characters, though, of course, all of these works canand shouldbe read by other children and teenagers. This chapter explores the ways in which these picture books and chapter books handle the challenges of accurately representing the inca rcerated population, particularly in terms of their portrayals of imprisoned parents gender, race, class, and criminal offense, while simultaneously avoidi ng the reinforcement of harmful stereotypes about the criminal population. Many of the books try to steer away from sensitive political issues by focusing their stories on individual child characters and their unique experiences and challenges in coping with t heir parents incarcerations, and all of the contemporary novels feature t he child characters friendships with other socially marginalized individuals as a way of reduc ing the stigma and the adversity of having a parent behind bars.
27 Chapters Three and Four are the principle window chapter s, in which the novels are designed to help child and teen reader s gain a greater awareness of the legal system, as well as an increased amount of com passion for those involved in it. Chapter Three, Marking Change, Continuity, and th e Passage of Time: Historical Fiction about Prisons, compares older novels that I found in the University of Floridas Baldwin Library of Historical Childrens Literature wit h contemporary works of historical fiction. All of these books introduce read ers to prisons, prison practi ces, and inmates in British and American settings between 1730 and 1969. The contemporary works describe the horrors of incarceration and its negative effe cts on individual lives much more vividly than do their older counterparts, but all of th e books take care to avoid criticizing the judicial system whenever possible. This chapter also explores the distancing effect of historical fiction, considering the ways in which historical fiction can be used to make connections between the past and the present, especially for younger readers. Finally, as part of the distancing effect, the cont emporary books recurrent use of England, especially during Victorian times, as a setti ng that allows Americ an readers to examine more closely issues of class and its impact on the criminal justice system is discussed. In Chapter Four, Losses and Gains: Po wer Dynamics among Fictional Juvenile Offenders and the Juvenile Justic e System, attention turns from criminal characters first written about or later set in historical times to contemporary juvenile offenders who are or have been in juvenile correctional fa cilities, halfway houses, or on probation. Issues of power are central to all of t hese young adult novels, in which protagonists struggle to retain a sense of personal power, even as they live under the social control of the juvenile justice system. This chapt er examines the power dynamics between the
28 youthful offenders and their friends and fa milies, authority figures, and the larger community, while also evaluating the cons iderations of personal responsibility and power, as well as mitigating factors that can affect the behaviors of both inmates and corrections officers. Lastly, t he fictional representations of the juvenile offenders and the system itself are examined, along with thei r power to influence how readers perceive their existing, real-world counterparts. Finally, Chapter Five, Trials and Their Tri bulations: Performances of (In)Justice, discusses books that encourage young readers to open the door applying what they have read about to similar situations in real li fe that they are likel y to encounter in the future. This chapter addresses the performa tivity of trials, heavily emphasizing the discrepancies between performative justice and actual justice, both in works of fantasy, especially J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter series, and works of realistic fiction. The performative elements of trials are highlighted through Rowlings use of the pensieve, a magical device that allows characters ( and readers) to enter ot her peoples memories, as well as through the realistic novels portr ayals of attorneys performance strategies, the use of different narrative formats, and the distancing effect of hist orical fiction. While these books teach children about judicial prac tices and courtroom procedure, they focus more on the injustices that can occur when individual and community prejudices take over a court of law, an instructive lesson to future voters and jurors.
29 CHAPTER 2 ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BARS: CHILD CHARACTERS WITH A PARENT IN PRISON In E. Nesbits The Railway Childr en (1961, 1905), one of the most well-known older novels about children with an incarcerat ed parent, Mother does not tell her three children about Fathers arrest and imprisonment. Instead, in regards to the fact that Father will be away for some time, Mother reports, I want you not to ask me any questions about this trouble; and not to a sk anybody else any questions (Nesbit 18). Approximately a century later, in Susan Patrons The Higher Power of Lucky (2006), winner of the 2007 John Newbery Medal, Lucky is shocked to overhear Mrs. Prender talking at a Smokers Anonymous meeting ab out having to take in her grandson while his mother is in prison. Lucky realizes that Mrs. Prender is ta lking about Miles, the little boy whose constant requests for cookies and read-alouds irritate her to no end, but Miless mother was supposed to be in Florida, nursing her sick friend (Patron 72-73). Miless mothers incarceration has been kept a secret from the to wns children, even from Miles himself, just as Nesbits Mother shielded her children from the truth of their fathers imprisonment ov er one hundred years earlier. Yet, the parallelism here is misleading. Out of the twenty-one books discussed in this chapter, The Railway Children and The Higher Power of Lucky are the only works in which children are not aware of their parents incarcerat ions from the novels onsets.1 While in the past, some research warned t hat children ought to be protected from the knowledge that their parents are incarcerated as a way of minimizing the trauma 1 Roberta, the oldest child in The Railway Children eventually learns about her fathers incarceration when she finds an old newspaper clipping about his trial and sentencing. Once she confronts her mother with the clipping, her mother tells her the entire story, but neither Roberta nor Mother ever tells Peter or Phyllis about their fathers imprisonment. In The Higher Power of Lucky Miles too learns of his mothers incarceration by the end of the novel afte r Lucky tells him in a moment of anger.
30 associated with the separation (B ecker and Margolin 1967), mo re recent studies argue that the unwillingness of family, friends, or caregivers to discuss parental incarceration exacerbates childrens emotional distre ss (Synder-Joy and Carlo 1998) (Parke and Clarke-Stewart 200). Given the trends in ch ild psychology towards open discussions of sensitive topics, as well as the increase in realism in childrens and young adult literature, it is hardly surprising that more books for children are addressing the topics of parental incarceration and the child protagonists awareness of and feelings about their parents situations.2 Though the majority of the works t hat tackle this issue are aimed at middle schoolers and one book is clearly in tended for young adults, children with parents in prison are also introduced to younger readers through picture books, making parental incarceration one of the first issues involving the criminal justice system that children may be exposed to in literature. Of course, the increasing number of childrens books about incarcerated parents also corresponds to the increasing number of Americans in prison. The exact number of American parents in prison, however, has been difficult to establish. In Loving Through Bars: Children with Parents in Prison (2005), Cynthia Martone states, More than 2.3 million children in the United States have a parent in pris on (1). The most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Parents in Pris on and Their Minor Children (August 2008; revised March 2010) declares, An estimated 809,800 prisoners of the 1,518,535 held in the nations prisons at midy ear 2007 were parents of minor children, or children under age 18. Parents held in t he nations prisons% of state inmates and 63% of federal inmatesreported having an estimated 1,706,600 minor children, 2 Of the twenty-one books that I found on this t opic, five were published between the 1860s and 1920, and the other sixteen were published in the 1990s and the 2000s.
31 accounting for 2.3% of the U.S. residents under age 18 (G laze and Maruschak 1). But the Bureau of Justices stat istics do not include childre n whose parents have already been released from prison or are on parole. As Jeremy Travis and Michelle Waul, editors of Prisoners Once Removed: The Impac t of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families, and Communities (2003), note, [I]f we include adults who have recently been released from prisons and jails and those adults on parole, the number of affected children more than doublesto an estimated 3.2 million in 2001 (Mumola 2002) (1), a number that has almost certainl y increased over the years as the American prison population has continued to grow.3 Regardless of the exact num ber of American children wit h an incarcerated parent, there are plenty of children in this situat ion, and books about this subject function as multicultural mirrors, allowing these childr en to see characters like themselves with whom they can easily identify. The importance of this identification, particularly for children in minority groupslike those with incarcerated parentswho do not often see themselves, their families, or their communities presented in books, is at the heart of multicultural childrens literature.4 Yet as vital as it is for ch ildren with parents in prison to see characters like themselves in childr ens books, it is also beneficial for other children to read about these characters as well, so that they may develop a better understanding of and empathy for ch ildren in this situation. 3 Though the Bureau of Justice statistics only track children whose parents are actually behind bars at a given time, the statistics still report, Children of incarcerated parents increased by 80% (761,000 children) during this period [1999 to midyear 2007] (Glaze and Maruschak 1). 4 In the introduction, I propose that people who are incarcerated or have family members incarcerated can be considered a minority group with a unique culture, even as this group is composed of individuals from a wide variety of other cultures.
32 As part of presenting the t opic of parental incarcerati on, a number of politically sensitive issues arise. Here, the mirror t hat encourages children to find themselves in these books becomes less reflective, often blocking out larger questions about the social factors that contribute to incarceration rates, as well as portrayals of crimes that may not be considered appropriate for children, like rape. Few, if any, of the works fully address social issues in their individua l stories, focusing instead on one child and his/her unique experience with a parents imprisonment. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, these books raise interesting ques tions about the dilemma of accurately representing harsh realities, like the overrepresentation of African Americans and the poor behind bars, while also avoiding the re inforcement of harmf ul stereotypes about the criminal population, a concern that is particularly pr essing in picture books, the works most likely to be read and viewed by the youngest readers. But many child and teen readers are likely unaware of the larger issues surround ing incarceration, so the representations that readers receive in thes e books may define their perceptions of this segment of the population, regardless of how accurately these books actually represent reality. While each books focus on individual child characters points of view may obscure larger social issues, the books focuses also allow readers to realize the myriad ways in which a parents incarceration can affect a childs life. Moreover the presentation of these child characters with imprisoned parents also raises questions about representations and realities. As Travis and Waul report, [A] few studies have found that childr en of incarcerated parents are more likely to exhibit low self-esteem, depression, emotional withdrawal from friends and family, and inappropriate or disruptive behavior at home and in school (Henriques 1982; Johnston 1995a; Jose-Kampf ner 1995; Stanton
33 1980). In addition, some evidence sugges ts that children of incarcerated parents are at high risk for future delinquency and/or criminal behavior (Johnston 1995a). (15) Given these studies, the childrens books about incarcerated parents walk a fine line between featuring young characters who su ffer from these negative consequences of their parents imprisonment and not pigeonholing their charac tersand real-life children with a parent in prisoninto certain expected (and usually negative) roles and behaviors. Though some, but not all, of t he characters presented do experience a sampling of these problems, a ll of the works, particularly the contemporary novels, show the ways in which childrens lives are complic ated by their parents incarcerations. Yet no matter how adversely a characters life is affected by a parents imprisonment, nearly all of the works emphasize the character s ability to overcome this adversity. Additionally, though many of t he characters in these works are stigmatized by having a parent in prison, all of the contemporary novels take steps to minimize the social marginality of the protagonist s situations, either through the inclusion of other young characters with incarcerated parents or through friendships with other social pariahs. Statistically Challenged or Challenging Statistics?: Portray als of Criminal Offenses, Gender, Class, and Race Each of these books addresses an individual childs struggle to come to terms with a parents incarceration and the strains that it places on his/her own life. Each also provides a representation of a parent behind bars, a parent of a particular race, gender, and class who has been incarcerated for a partic ular offense. Taken as a whole, these representations of imprisoned parents indicate the efforts made by individual authors and publishing houses to juggle the dual, some times competing, considerations of accurately reflecting the populations most a ffected by incarceration and avoiding the
34 stereotyping of criminals. Striking a balance between these considerations can be so difficult that many books, especially t he contemporary chapter books, attempt to minimize or eliminate references to ra ce and class. (The gender of the incarcerated parent appears to be less controversial and ce rtainly less avoidable.) By focusing primarily on their characters personal probl ems rather than on the larger issues of representation, these books are putting the concerns of the child characters first but sometimes skirting the social factors that impact rates of incarceration as well. In the five older works that include an incarcerated parent, all of the imprisoned parents are male and either European or European American.5 The main characters families in Eliza Weaver Bradburns Rosa, or, The Two Castles (1863?), Millicent Evisons Rainbow Gold (1920), and Nesbits The Railway Children vary from well-to-do to incredibly wealthy. Yet the aspect that mo st separates these older works from their contemporary counterparts is the high rate of unjust incarcerations involving the imprisoned fathers. Nesbits Father did not commit the act of treason for which he is convicted, and Evisons Mr. Hamilton is inno cent of speculation with his companys funds. As readers eventually learn, both me n were set up by jealous co-workers who hoped to profit from their dow nfalls, so their families unwavering belief in their innocence is justified. Similarly, while the unnamed father in A.L.O.E.s The Prisoner and the Peach (186?) and Sir Elbert in Bradburns Rosa, or the Two Castles are technically guilty of their respective cri mesreading a Bible out loud to neighbors and 5 E. Nesbits The Railway Children (1961; 1905) and Caroline Chesebros The Poachers Sons (1879) are set in England. A.L.O.E.s The Prisoner and the Peach (186?) takes place in Italy, and Eliza Weaver Bradburns Rosa, or The Two Castles (1863?) occurs in a fantastical setting. Millicent Evisons Rainbow Gold (1920) is the only older work discussed in this c hapter that is set in America, but all of the contemporary novels and picture books occur in the United States, except for Vivian Alcocks A Kind of Thief (1994), which takes place in England.
35 being granted a greater amount of respect from the Duke than Sir Envy receivesthe texts indicate the injustice of incarcerating people for such offenses. (Interestingly, while A.L.O.E. and Bradburn do point out the unfairness of the fathers prison sentences, they place more emphasis on the lessons that ca n be learned through such injustices, like patience, humility, and a willingness to subm it to Gods plan.) In fact, George Sandhurst, the father in Caroline Chesebros The Poachers Sons (1879?) is the only parent in the older works who is justifiabl y incarcerated for a legitimate legal (and violent) offense: shooting and wounding t he gamekeeper of the grounds on which he was poaching. In contrast, none of the more contempor ary works on the subj ect presents such unfair incarcerations. Kenny Kane, aka Killer Kane, from Rodman Philbricks Freak the Mighty (2001) is the only parent who insists on hi s innocence, telling his son, I know what they told you,  Its all a big lie, you understand? I never killed anybody, and thats the truth, so help me God ( Freak 101). But his truth turn s out to be untrue, as readers learn when Maxs repressed memories of his fathers murder of his mother come flooding back to him as he witnesses his father strangli ng another woman. Otherwise, even though several characters, like Elinor and Matthew in Vivian Alcocks A Kind of Thief (1994), Angel in Ka therine Patersons The Same Stuff as Stars (2002), and Deet in Kirkpatrick Hills Do Not Pass Go (2007), want to believe, however briefly, in their parents innocence, the characters ( and the readers) do not hold onto these illusions for long. The guilt of the in carcerated parent is made clear in each contemporary work, possibly as a way of uphol ding the integrity of the judicial system,
36 at least when parents are involved,6 and possibly because the authors do not want child readers with incarcerated parents to cling to ideas about their own parents innocence. The incarcerated parents in the contempor ary novels and picture books may all be guilty, but they are guilty of a wide variety of crimes. In t he ten novels for older children and teenagers, five parents are serving time for drug-related crimes (either possession or distribution). Two are in prison for mu rder, one for assault, one for armed robbery, one for embezzlement, one for property destruction, and one for throwing illegal parties, complete with gambling, alcohol, and prostitutes. In the picture books for younger readers, the crimes are a little gentler and mo stly consist of some form of theft. One parent simply steals, another steals money, and a third steals televisions. One father is convicted of forging checks. Two of the pi cture books do not specify what crime landed the parents in prison, and, unlik e in the contemporary novels, the offenses are not really important to the plots or char acter development of the pictur e books, so little, if any, information on the crimes is needed to advance the stories. Yet, in looking at all of the parental crimes committed in t he contemporary works, the vast majority of the crimes are non-violent. Travis and Waul state, Overall, t he majority of parents in state prisons were either serving time for violent offens es (44 percent) or drug offenses (24 percent) (4), but more of these boo ks feature parents who are inca rcerated for drugs than for violent crimes, a tempering sh ift that is hardly surprising in works for young readers. Travis and Waul also note, A significant nu mber of incarcerated parents struggle with substance abuse (6), a reality that is played out in the majority of the contemporary 6 Though all of the incarcerated parents in these cont emporary stories are guilty of the crimes for which they are imprisoned, young readers meet plenty of wr ongfully convicted characters in other works, some of which are discussed in Chapters Three, Four, and Five.
37 novels but in none of the picture books, further demonstrating that many of the crimes for which fictional parents are serving time have been written with their audiences ages in mind. Despite considerations of readers ages and the associated understandings of certain crimes, as well as their perceived levels of appropriateness for children, the gender representations of parent prisoners and their crimes are fairly accurate. The contemporary chapter books in clude four incarcerated mo thers and eight imprisoned fathers, and the picture books show two mo thers and four fathers behind bars. While a greater number of American men are still incarcerated, t he number of children under age 18 with a mother in prison more than doubled since 1991 (Glaze and Maruschak 2), a reality that thes e books reflect. Moreover, as Ross D. Parke and K. Alison ClarkeStewart explain, federal s entencing guidelines for drug offenses have especially contributed to increased incarceration rate s among women, who are more likely to be incarcerated for economic offenses and drug-re lated crimes (191). Indeed, all of the incarcerated mothers in the contemporary st ories whose crimes are told are serving time for drug offenses or grand larceny. And, while six fathers in these books are convicted on non-violent charges, fathers also commit all of the violent crimes in these stories, including two murder s of mothers, assault agains t a child, and armed robbery. Although inmate fathers were more likely t han mothers to be incarcerated for a violent offense (46 vs. 26 percent) (Travis and W aul 5), one has to wonder if the repeated association of imprisoned fathers and viol ence in books can lead to stereotypical images of real-life male inmates, many of whom are actually convicted of non-violent offenses.
38 Fathers may still assume all of the culpab ility for violent acts in these childrens books, but the portrayals of cl ass are more varied, even as these portrayals are often relegated to the background of the storie s. In actuality, [i]ncarceration disproportionately affects families living in poverty, and imprisonment of a parent contributes to the financial st rain among the families and caregivers left behind (Travis and Waul 19). This reality is clearly articulated in works like Coe Booths Tyrell (2007), Vera B. Williams Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart (2001), and Richard Pecks Strays Like Us (2000), which introduce characters in di re financial strait s. For example, after the father of Booths ti tle character violates his parole and returns to prison, Tyrell, his mother, and his little brother must exc hange their apartment in the projects for a room in Bennett, an old hotel that has been turned into an emergency shelter for the homeless. Similarly, in Williams picture book, Amber, Essie, and their mother are making do in a small apartment with mini mal food in the cupboards and without a telephone, while the girls father serves ti me for forging checks. And when Pecks Molly was staying with her mother prior to her hospitalization and incarceration, they constantly moved from one hotel or shel ter to another. Molly never had store-bought clothes until her great aunt, Fay, takes her shopping. Though Aunt Fay cannot afford any extras for Molly, she is able to prov ide her with a stable, lower middle class lifestylea lifestyle of necessi ties but few luxuriesthat many of the other characters in these works share,7 placing the books emphasis on middle class families with an 7 Many of these works do not draw significant attentio n to the financial situations of the main characters families, either before or during a parents incarc eration, but class indicators are presented through details, such as the characters homes, education, employment, and speech patterns. From these small clues, I concluded that the following works feature characters of the lower middle to middle classes: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron; Freak the Mighty and Max the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick; Harry Sue by Sue Stauffacher; The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson; Jakeman by Deborah Ellis; Do Not Pass Go by Kirkpatrick Hill; Flush by Carl Hiassen; Nine Candles by Maria Testa; Mama
39 imprisoned relative rather than on the poorer families who are actually more likely to watch a family member go to prison. Yet, when any family cannot afford luxuries or even all of the necessities, one of its members may be tempted to turn to crime to improve their financial situation. In Maria Testas picture book, Nine Candles (1996), seven year old Raymond explains that Mama is in prison for stealing money from the restaurant where she worked. He adds, Mama says she made a mistake. She says she was wrong to take that money, even though Dad was out of a j ob at the time (Testa np). Likewise, in Hills Do Not Pass Go, Charley takes methamphetamines, which the polic e find in his car, because he is trying to keep himself awake while he works two jobs, although Deet notes that his father has to work so much because his parents are irresponsible with money.8 But people who are poor or w ho are struggling to make ends meet are not the only people in prison, a fact that these books make clear. As Deet observes in his journal, I used to think people who had fancy houses, fancy cars, had these perfect lives. But they have to come visit people in prison too (Hill 218; italics in or iginal), though they have to do so less frequently than other cla sses of people. Readers meet several wellto-do families with incarcerated relatives in Hills novel, as well as in Alcocks A Kind of Loves Me from Away by Pat Brisson; When Andys Father Went to Prison by Martha Whitmore Hickman; A Visit to the Big House by Oliver Butterworth; and Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson. Portrayals of class in childrens literature and particularly in child rens books about the criminal justice system are discussed primarily in Chapter Three, although they are also mentioned in Chapters Four and Five as well. 8 Charley is actually Deets stepfather, but, since D eet has never met his biological father, he refers to Charley as Dad.
40 Thief Nesbits The Railway Children ,9 and Julius Lesters When Dad Killed Mom (2003). Though [a]bout half of parent s in state prison provi ded the primary financial support for their minor children (Glaze and Maruschak 5), the only child characters whose economic situations c hange drastically once a parent is incarcerated are those at the bottom or at the top of the financial spectrum. Of the poorest child characters, Booths Tyrell ends up in a homeless shel ter, and Williams Amber and Essie live without a phone or extra food for snacks, w hereas Pecks Molly acquires a stable home with new clothes and a stocked re frigerator. Of the wealthiest child characters, Alcocks Elinor, Matthew, and Judy are sent to live with resentful, less financially successful relatives and are enrolled in public schools after their father is arrested for embezzlement. And Nesbits Mother informs B obbie, Peter, and Phyllis that [w]eve got to play at being poor for a bit (21), alt hough they still hire Mrs. Viney to help around the house, so the family is clearly far from des titute. In addition, Lesters Jenna and Jeremy, children of a college psychologist and an ar tist, inherit their family home and their mothers assets and artwork after her murd er, but their daily lives are not greatly affected by these fiscal changes. Nor are most of the child characte rs from the middle classes financially hurt or helped by their parents imprisonment and their subsequent living situations. These books provide a bro ad continuum of financial situations and 9 Of the older works mentioned in this chapter, Bradburns Rosa, or The Two Castles and Evisons Rainbow Gold also showcase wealthy families with an incarcerated parent. Bradburns Rosa and her father lose all of their property when he is arrested, and Rosa becomes a servant, so that she can see her father on a regular basis. Once he is released from prison, however, his captor, Sir Envy, returns his land and his possessions. Unlike Rosa, Evisons three child protagonists do not even temporarily lose financial security. Instead, they are taken in by their very rich grandfather when their father is sent to prison, and the family remains together after Mr. Hamiltons rele ase. I do not include these books in my analysis of class portrayals because they have long been out of print and, therefore, are not likely to be read by many young readers today. Nesbits The Railway Children on the other hand, remains in print.
41 repercussions, but fiscal matters do not receiv e much attention in many of these books, allowing their child characters (and readers) to concentra te on issues of personal socialization rather than on issues of class and financial concerns. The issue of racial repres entation is also submerged or completely ignored in many of these works, particu larly the contemporary novels, both in spite of and because of the subjects many sensitive connections to incarceration and the composition of the prison population. The Bureau of Justice claims, Black children (6.7%) were seven and a half times more likely than white children (0.9%) to have a parent in prison. Hispanic children (2.4%) were more than two and a hal f times more likely than white children to have a parent in prison (Glaze and Marusc hak 2). Yet, of the contemporary chapter books that include incarcer ated parents, only Booths Tyrell and Deborah Ellis Jakeman (2007) have African American children as the main characters. The other eight books feature Caucasian children whose par ents are behind bars, although both Ellis Jakeman and Hills Do Not Pass Go present the inmates whom the child characters see in the prisons visiting rooms as being racially diverse. The practice of racism is also condemned in Sue Stauffachers Harry Sue (2007), where Harry Sues grandmother is portrayed as racist, as well as sadistic and cruel, and in Ellis Jakeman, where the racially diverse busload of foster children who are returning from visiting their mothers in prison, overhear the following co nversation in a roadside cafe: I hate them Mohawks, one of the men said. He was eating blueberry pie and had a dribble of blue spit on his chin. I hate Mexicans, his friend said. And we both hate They didnt say w hat they both hated, but they looked hard at Jake and the other black kids. Americans? Gitana finished for them. (Ellis 137)
42 Apart from these works, issues of race or racism are never m entioned in the chapter books, probably because many authors are uncertain about how to put their concerns about these issues into the creation of c haracters and plot elements that are both accurate and nonstereotypical. Indeed, even the contemporary picture books, which are more racially diverse than the novels, do not put racial c oncerns or representations into words. Instead, they follow the genre conventions that Maria Nikolajeva and Carole Scott illustrate in How Picturebooks Work (2001), namely, If we consider what images and words each do best, it is clear that physical description [o f characters] belongs in the realm of the illustrator, who can, in an instant, communicate information about appearance that would take many words and much reading ti me (83). So, while none of the picture books describes the races or ethnicities of child characters or the inmates whom the characters see, the illustra tions in Jacqueline Woodsons Visiting Day (2002),Testas Nine Candles and possibly Pat Brissons Mama Loves Me from Away (2004) introduce children of color who are visiting their parents in prison,10 whereas Martha Whitmore Hickmans When Andys Father Went to Prison (1990), Oliver Butterworths A Visit to the Big House (1993), and Williams Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart feature white children with incarcerated parents. Testas Nine Candles and Brissons Mama Loves Me from Away also both portray racially diverse inma tes in the prisoners visiting rooms, although all of the prison guards in Nine Candles are white. And all of the inmates and prison guards alike are white in Butterworths A Visit to the Big House and Hickmans 10 The unnamed narrator in Woodsons Visiting Day is African American. Raymond in Testas Nine Candles is possibly Latino, and Sugar in Brissons Mama Loves Me from Away may be Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
43 When Andys Father Went to Prison though one of the members of the parole board in Hickmans illustrations may be African-American. It is James Ransomes illustrations in Woodsons Visiting Day however, that have garnered the most critical attention, both because Ransome and Woodson are wellknown figures in the field of childrens lit erature and because of the political message contained within the books pictures. As Michelle H. Martin explains in Brown Gold: Milestones of African-American Childrens Pict ure Books, 1845-2002 (2004), Subtle though it is, this picture book [ Visiting Day ] visually represents a sad reality of the American penal system: in the illustration of the inside of the bus, all of the passengers going to vi sit the prison seem to be black. Likewise, when the girl and her grandm other finally get to see Daddy, everyone in jail, with the exception of the uniformed guard and perhaps one khaki-shirted prisoner, all also seem to be black. Given the high percentage of black males doing time in American jails and prisons, Ransome makes a statement in the illustrations on wh ich Woodsons text need not comment. (79) And it is a powerful, undoubtedly controvers ial statement, one that it is even more critical to examine since Visiting Day is the only picture book about an incarcerated parent that is still in print. While the book may reflect the actual raci al make-up of some prisons and jails,11 as well as referring to the overrepresentation of African Americans in the criminal justice system as a whole, such stark depictions of racial power structures within prisons can reinforce a st ereotype, as well as reflect a reality. Debra Van Ausdale and Joe R. Feagin state in The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism (2001), The constant media reiterati on of the differential repres entation of Black and Latino Americans in the criminal justice system, including prisons, undoubtedly feeds the 11 In the Authors Note and the Artists Note of Visiting Day both Woodson and Ransome recall visiting family members in prison, so Ransomes illustrations could be based on the peop le whom he saw in the prisons visiting room.
44 conviction among many whites, young and old, that average Black and Latino Americans are somehow much more criminal, violent, and dangerous than whites (204), an impression that many adults do not want children to receive from the books that they read. As Leslie Edmunds observes, Since children apparently begin to form racial attitudes and attain some racial identity in the preschool and early school years, it is important to look at the racial images pres ented to them then ( 32). Indeed, Dean Cristol and Belinda Gimbert report that childrens racial awareness begins around 3-4 years of age (202), so it is vital that childrens books, especially those aimed at the youngest audiences, find sensitive and balanced ways to present the races of those involved in the criminal justice system. But, because it is extremely difficu lt to accurately portray the incarcerated parents of many children of color and simultaneously avoid presenting racially stereotypical images of criminals, m any writers prefer to avoid or gloss over racial concerns by presenting all of the characters in their books as white. Such depictions may reduce realism and limit the vi sibility of people of color in works for children, but they also avoid the perpetuatio n of racial stereoty pes that lead Ausdale and Feagin to assert that children, especially white children, are likely to associate criminality, and violent crimi nality, with the people of colo r with whom they come in contact (204). I honestly do not know which concern is more important, but, in portraying the race, as well as the cla ss and gender of incarcerated parents, a wide array of representations assists young r eaders in understanding that many different people are incarcerated for many different reasons, while also increasing the likelihood
45 that the children who need to find characters like themselves in these books will be able to do so. Personal Realities and Representations: Dail y Life for Child Characters with Incarcerated Parents It is certainly important to examine how books about incarcerated parents address larger issues of representat ion, such as those involving race, class, gender, and the types of crimes committed. But it is equally important to consid er the portrayals of individual child characters, their lives, and their relationships with their incarcerated parents, particularly since these books place a greater emphasis on the concerns of the individual child. For while these works provide insights about how some childrens books handle sensitive sociological realities, they also show how child characters react to their parents imprisonment, and, thanks to literary utopianism, most of these characters fare far better than many psychol ogical studies suggest that they should. In fact, nearly all of the works, wit h the notable exception of Booths Tyrell, end with some degree of hope and confidence for the children s futures, a component of childrens literature that many au thors and scholars consider reassuringly necessary.12 Before considering the futures of the child characters, however an examination of their past and current realities is in order As Travis and Waul observe, A parents incarceration does not necessarily signal th e onset of family and child development needs, but rather in most cases adds to the burdens of a family already struggling to overcome lifes obstacles and setbacks. T he incarceration of a family member may further exacerbate an environment already char acterized by ongoing poverty, stress, or 12 Booths Tyrell is definitely a work of young adult fictio n, so its ambiguous, potentially unhappy ending for its main character is more acceptable within this narrower genres conventions.
46 trauma (1-2),13 which is certainly the case for most of these child characters, particularly in the contemporar y novels. While some of the picture books hint at financial strains in the families pasts, the families portrayed in the chapter books suffer from a wide variety of setbacks and stressors that precede a parents in carceration. For example, Pecks Molly and Patersons Angel and Bernie move constantly as their mothers are unable to settle down anywhere fo r long. Mollys mother shoots up, and Angel and Bernies mother drinks. The childrens mother dies in Alcocks A Kind of Thief and they acquire a young stepmother, fo llowed by a baby stepbrother. Booths Tyrell and his family sink further into financia l ruin each time Tyrells father returns to prison. In Carl Hiassens Flush (2005), Noah and Abbeys parent s are fighting, and, in Lesters When Dad Kills Mom Jenna and Jeremys parents are no longer living together, in part because their mother is c oncerned that their father is having an inappropriate relationship with Jenna. (H ugging her does cause him to have an erection.) And Stauffachers Harry Sues drun ken father is so angry about his wifes getting a restraining order against him that he throws Harry Sue, then five years old, out of a window, causing a severe case of bruising, a dislocated shoulder, and two broken ribs (15). So, clearly, many of these child characters ha ve endured challenges and pain even before they lose a parent to prison. Moreover, once they have a parent in pris on, many of their living situations change. In the picture books, Woodsons unnamed female narrator and Brissons Sugar live with their grandmothers after their parents incarcerations, whil e the other children 13 While this chapter focuses on books in which par ents are incarcerated, there are obviously children with other family members incarcerated as well. Jacqueline Woodsons After Tupac and D Foster (2008) includes an older brother who is behind bars.
47 remain at home with the non-incarcerated parent. In the chapter books, only Hiassens Noah, Hills Deet, and Booths Tyrell continue to stay with one parent and their siblings. Patrons Miles, Philbricks Max, Alcocks Elinor, Pecks Molly, and Stauffachers Harry Sue are taken in by other relatives.14 Lesters Jenna moves in with her fathers first wife, and Jeremy, after a brief time of living under his grandfathers care, is adopted by the family of a school friend. Patersons Angel and Bernie are shuffled among their mother, their great-grandmother, and t he foster care system, and Ellis Jake and Shoshona are wards of the state. Though Ellis Jake and Shoshona and Paters ons Angel and Bernie are the only characters who actually spend time in foster homes in these books, several other works also convey fear and deep suspicions about the government-run fost er care system, even though none of these books openly criticiz es the governments criminal justice system.15 For example, in Strays Like Us when Molly asks Aunt Fay if she might be taken to a foster home while her mother serves her prison sentence for selling dope, Aunt Fay replies, Over my dead body! (Peck 142). Aunt Fay is so anxious to keep Molly out of foster care t hat she recruits Mrs. Voorhees, Mollys maternal grandmother whom Molly has only known as one of Aunt Fays home health care patients, to vouch for Aunt Fays suitability as a guardian. Likewise, in The Same Stuff as Stars Angel 14 Patrons Miles and Stauffachers Harry Sue live with their grandmothers, and Ph ilbricks Max lives with both of his maternal grandparents. Alcocks Elinor is s ent to live with distant cousins, while her siblings are sent to live with other relatives, and Pe cks Molly is dropped off with her great-aunt. 15 According to Travis and Waul, Children are more likel y to be placed in foster care (10 percent) if their mother is sentenced to prison than if their father is incarcerated (2 percent) ( 18). Travis and Waul also note that many children are informally placed with other family members and do not enter the foster care system following the arrest of a parent (17). Such informal placements are seen in Alcocks A Kind of Thief and Lesters When Dad Killed Mom Readers are not told how Miles and Max ended up in the care of their grandparents in Patrons The Higher Power of Lucky and Philbricks Freak the Mighty and Max the Mighty.
48 asks Liza Irwin, the towns librarian, to info rm the child welfare worker that Angel is better off with her great-grandmother than she would be if she were returned to a foster home. Hills Do Not Pass Go also connects stays in foster care with subsequent stays in prison when Charley tells Deet about his fa vorite cellmate, Ronny, who was abandoned by his mother and raised in foster homes th ere [in California], one worse than the other. One jail sentence after another (116). Only in Stauffachers Harry Sue is there the unstated implication that a child may actually be better off in foster care than in the care of a relative, since Harry Sue ends up livi ng with her abusive paternal grandmother after both of her parents are incarcer ated, her father for assaulti ng her and her mother for making crystal methamphetamine in the kitchen. Yet, even in this case, the fact that Harry Sues grandmother not onl y rears her for six years but also operates a home day care in which small children are left alone, kept in bathtubs, drugged with cough syrup, and abused, shows that Social Services obviously does not always pay adequate attention to the individuals and facilities that it licenses to care for children. Like Stauffachers Harry Sue Patersons The Same Stuff as Stars portrays Child Welfare as not providing sufficient oversight of the people with whom it entrusts its young charges, whereas Ellis Jakeman suggests that the problem with the foster care system is actually too much uncompassionat e, bureaucratic scrutin y of the children themselves. In Patersons novel, Wayne, A ngel and Bernies father, thinks that Angel should return to foster care after her mother takes off with Bernie, leaving Angel alone with her great-grandmother. Yet Angel is terrified of returning to a foster home, remembering, Home, ha! More like a re formatory. Angel had gotten whacked every time shed turned around (Paterson 170). Even worse for Angel, she and Bernie had
49 been separated, and Angel thinks that Child Welf are ultimately returned them to their mothers custody because theyd made a mistake, putting her and Bernie into bad situations (Paterson 170).16 Ellis Jake and Shoshona also move from one bad situation to the next in New Yorks foster care system with six different pl acements in three years, while their mother serves time for cocaine possession. Jake, S hoshona, and the rest of the foster children with whom they visit the prison are accustomed to being treated shabbi ly by most of the adults they encounter in Social Services and the criminal justice system, but all of the children are infuriated after t hey read their personal, confidentia l files that Ms. Granite, a social worker, leaves on the bus when s he is hospitalized for food poisoning. After reading these permanent records that follo w them from one home and school to the next, all over the bus, the kids began to protes tquietly at first, but quickly gaining in strength as they realized how littl e of their real lives was found in those files (Ellis 162). Indeed, the clinical descriptions and prognosti cations in the files seem woefully inadequate in exploring the reasons behind some of the childrens b ehaviors and fears. Yet the worst thing about the childrens record s is how Social Services curtails the childrens prospects, becoming complicit in it s own limitations in providing its charges with a strong foundation for adult hood. As Jakes file states, Both Jacob and his sister have high dreams for the futureShoshona wants to be an opera singer and Jake wants to have something to do with art.17 Given their circumstances and Jakes poor 16 Paterson also shows the problems with foster care through her portrayal of Verna, Angel and Bernies mother. In thinking about her own experiences within the foster care system, Angel recalls, Verna had never lived with her real mother or father. Shed spent time in eight different foster homes and a group home before she ran away and married Daddy. She hadnt even finished hi gh school (Paterson 7). 17 The title of Ellis book, Jakeman is also the name of Jakes alter ego in the comic books that he draws, admittedly with pens that he shoplifted. As Jake explai ns, His name is Jakeman, the Barbed Wire Boy.
50 school performance, we would be serving t hem well to encourage them to lower their expectations. It will spare them disappointment and frustrati on down the line (Ellis 158). Unfortunately, too many children with incarc erated parents, regardle ss of whether they are in foster care or not, are told that they will not be able to achieve much with their lives, but the institutional placement of limitations on childrens potential seems particularly unfair. Even though a parents incarceration (or a ch ilds placement in foster care) should not prevent a child from being recognized as a person of multiple dimensions and potential, many children with incarcerated parents do suffer from a host of related problems, which should not be ignored or mi nimized. Eric Eckholm reports, Recent studies indicate that having an incarcerated parent  measur ably increases the likelihood of physically aggressive behavior, social isolation, depression and problems in schoolall portending dimmer prospects in adulthood (np). And some of the contemporary chapter books show child char acters struggling with severe emotional turmoil. Phibricks Max, an eighth grader wh en readers are introduced to him, has been traumatized since he witnessed his mothers murder when he was four years old, although he represses the memory of his father s strangling her for most of the story. Though he becomes a gentle giant, Max was also called Kicker in day care because he lashed out physically at both children and adults after his mothers death, and he remains wary of people until he meets Kevin, the boy next door who becomes his best He looks like a regular kid, but hes not. If hes gra bbed by bad guys, barbed wire comes out of his skin and the attackers get all bloody and sore. Hes got other superpowers, too, like legs that grow long when he needs to run and arms that grow strong when he n eeds to fight (Ellis 40). The connections between Jakemans barbed wire defenses and the barbed wire that Jake sees when he visits his mother in prison are clear.
51 friend.18 Similarly, Ellis Jake, who is eleven years old, still wets the bed and hides in closets and under the bed at night because he was so frightened when armed police officers woke him up on the night that they arrested his mother (Ellis 157-160). And Carolyn, a little girl on the prison bus with Jake, steals pets and refuses to speak because the police shot her cat when they t ook her mother into custody (Ellis 94). 19 These characters from Philbricks Freak the Mighty and Max the Mighty (1998) and Ellis Jakeman are the most severely traumatized children that we meet in these works, but other child characters experi ence other problems, especially in school. Booths Tyrell drops out of high school at age fifteen after his father goes back to prison, and his little brother, Troy, is in Special Educati on classes, although Tyrell thinks that his mother has Troy in Special Ed so t hat she can get additional welfare money. Philbricks Max has also been in special classes for the learning disabled, and he refuses to answer teachers questions, explai ning, getting up in the class and saying stuff is not something I do ( Freak 76). Additionally, Ellis Jakes schoolwork is substandard (158), and Patersons Bernie fails first grade. Bernie is also hyperactive and resistant to authority, two qualities that will probably make his fu ture time in school more difficult. Though none of the girls with imprisoned parent s experiences any academic setbacks, Stauffachers Harry S ue makes as much trouble at school as possible, and most of the characters, both males and females, are social pariahs who 18 Eckholm states, Among 5 year-old urban boys, 49 percent of those who h ad a father incarcerated within the previous 30 months exhi bited physically aggressive behavior s like hitting others or destroying objects, compared with 38 percent of those in otherw ise similar circumstances who did not have a father imprisoned, Dr. Wildeman found (np). 19 Though Ellis Jake and Carolyn are the child characte rs who are the most traumatized after seeing their mothers arrests, Patersons Angel and Alcocks Elinor are also afraid of the police after their fathers arrests.
52 prefer to be left alone by their peers.20 Yet while these books show some of the effects that a parents incarceration can have on a child s behavior, the boo ks also avoid boxing their young characters into preconceived or stereotypical expectations of a child with a parent behind bars, just as many of the stories try to avoid stereotyping the class, race, and gender of the incarcerated par ents. Perhaps a similar objection could be made that most of these young characters actually co pe with their parents incarcerations and other problems too well especially by the stories ends. Yet by endowing these characters with a great deal of resiliency, the stories enc ourage readers to believe that they too can triumph over t heir own realities (even if th e realities presented are not necessarily realistic). An important reality that the statistics do not discuss, but that a number of these books convey well, is the caretaking that children with incarcerated parents often undertake. Prior to Charleys imprisonment for possession of methamphetamines in Do Not Pass Go [s]ometimes Deet felt like he wa s the only grown-up in the house (Hill 12). But, while his father is in jail, Deet becomes like a grown-up, caring for his two younger sisters, cleaning the house, and preparing the meals, while his mother holds down a waitressing job to pay the bills. A ngel tooa fifth gradercleans, cooks, shops, and serves as the primary caregiver of her little brother in The Same Stuff as Stars observing, [T]he duty [of taki ng care of Bernie] had become like the sun in the solar system, the center around which all the other parts of her lif e revolved. Without it, she would likely fly to pieces (Paterson 103). And she nearly does fall apart when their 20 According to Parke and Clarke-Stewart, Boys ar e more likely to exhibit externalizing behavior problems (aggression, defiance, disobedience), while girls are more likely to display internalizing problems (depression, anxiety, withdrawal) (Cummings, Davies, and Campbell 2000) (204). With a few exceptions, like Stauffachers Ha rry Sue, most of the child characters conform to these gender expectations.
53 mother takes Bernie away from her, but then she feels obligated to take care of Grandma instead. Ellis Shoshona attempts to take her mo thers place with Jake as well, even crooning the same lullabies t hat their mother used to sing, and both Shoshona and Jake try to look out for their mo ther in prison by saving up to buy her the three care packages that she is allowed each year. Stauffachers Harry Sue would welcome the opportunity to take care of the mother whom she longs to join behind bars, but, until she can reunite with her mother, she watches out for the younger children who attend her grandmothers day ca re, protecting them from harm and even saving baby Moon Pies life. Alcocks Elinor and Booths Tyrell also pr ovide daily care and nurturing for their siblings and friends, but their parents also w ant them to assume financial responsibility for their families, even if th is means that they must commit some type of crime. As Elinors father is being arrested for embezzl ement, he tells Elinor that she is the strong one in the family, the sensible one, even as he slips a baggage receipt into the pocket of her bathrobe (Alcock 5). With this receipt, he gives her the respons ibility of fetching his suitcase, which contains stacks of cash as well as his passport, and he expects her to hand the contents of the suitcase over to Sophia, her stepmother. Angry at her father for turning her into his accomplicea kind of thief as the books title saysshe lies to Sophia about burning the re ceipt, intending to keep the money for herself and her siblings. Being responsible for the money and the future that it repr esents for her family gives Elinor nightmares, though, especially after learning that Mrs. Carter, one of the relatives with whom she is living, was cheated out of her life savings by George, Elinors father. After that, Elinor cannot find peace until she gives the m oney to Mrs. Carter,
54 who, in turn, delivers it to Mr. Brimly, the lawyer representing George. Likewise, Tyrells mother expects him to earn enough to get them out of th e emergency homeless shelter, even if it means that he has to sell marijuana to get the money. Tyrell refuses to deal in drugs, but he rakes in severa l thousand dollars by throwing an illegal party, complete with alcohol and prostitutes, the very cr ime that landed his father in prison. Tyrell thoroughly enjoys organizing his first party and is already planning improvements for the next one when the book ends, but both he and Patersons Angel resent being thrust into the role of caregi ver. As Tyrell tells his new friend, Jasmine, And now, cause of him [his incarcerated fat her], I gotta be the man. I gotta make the money to take care of my moms and brother. I gotta put my freedom on the line.  And whats sposed to happen when he get out in August? Im sposed to go back to being a kid again? Cause I dont think I could go back, you know what I mean? (Booth 224). Tyrell certainly does not go back to bei ng a kid, but, at least temporarily, he abandons his care giving role, leaving his mot her to move in with her new boyfriend and his younger brother in the custody of Child Services.21 At the end of the book, he is determined to look out for himself. Angel t oo has a moment in which she would like to be responsible only for herself, but she has been taking care of other people for so long that she would be lost without these duties. Nevertheless, s he feels that she is being cheated out of a childhood, so, when she visits Verna, her mother, in the hospital after Vernas new boyfriend causes a car accident that injures both Verna and Bernie, Angel informs her mother, Im not supposed to be the grown-up. Thats your job (Paterson 21 Troy, Tyrells little brother, is taken into the custody of Child Services only at the very end of the book, so readers do not see how he fares with Child Servic es, nor are they given a sense of whether or not Troys life might be improved if he were placed in the foster care system.
55 239). But, in the books final scene, she is st ill tending to Bernie and teaching him how to care for others, includi ng their imprisoned father. In fact, Angel sees visiting t heir father in prison as a signi ficant gesture of love, as well as a familial responsibility, feelings s hared by the other child characters who visit a parent behind bars. Parke and Clark e-Stewart claim, Some resi st the idea of visitation by children either because of the unplea sant and inhospitable visiting conditions (Hairston 1991) or because they believe visi tation will produce negative reactions in the children (Bloom and Steinhart 1993) (207) But, in the contemporary novels, approximately half of the young protagonists see their parents in prison, and, in the picture books, only Williams Amber and Essi e do not visit their incarcerated parent.22 The childrens motivations for visiting their par ents are largely similar, as they seek to assure their parents of their support and also receive reassurance that they too are loved, yet the portrayals of the emotional atmosphere of the prison visiting rooms and the personal visits vary in different books. In Patersons The Same Stuff as Stars and Brissons Mama Loves Me from Away the mood of the visits is sad and depressing When Bernie asks why they have to keep visiting their father, who has been imprisone d for armed robbery since Bernie was a baby, Angel replies, Cause hes our daddy, Be rnie. It would just break his heart not to see his family. Its the only thing keeps him going in a place like this. You gotta know someone cares about you, or you just give up (Paterson 19). If their father did give up, his defeat would correspond to that of many of the prisons visitors, whom Angel 22 In actual American prisons, Parke and Clarke-Stewart report, Investigat ions of the patterns of visitation reveal that approximately half of incarcerated parents do not receive any visits from their children (Snell 1994) (207).
56 describes as wearing the same, tired expres sion (Paterson 16). Bernie and Verna both hate going to the prison, and, even though Angel feels compelled to go, she too has little to chat about with her father, making their time together forced and awkward. Unlike Angel, Brissons Sugar has plenty of thi ngs to say to her mother, who is in prison for a long time for an unspecified reason (B risson np). In this book, the sorrow of the visit stems from it being too short and Sugar missing her mother so much, especially at story time. When Sugar is forc ed to leave her mother, Mama promises, Until I can be home with you again, Sugar, I will send you a st ory across the miles every night. It will be our special time (Brisson np). And the images of Sugars tears as she cuddles against her mother for a few final seconds, as well as the dark grays of the prison visiting room, add to the despair of their separation. Raymond in Testas Nine Candles and Jake in Ellis Jakeman also miss their mothers very much, but the prison atmosphere in these books invokes fear rather than sorrow. Like several of the other pictur e books about visiting an incarcerated parent, Testas Nine Candles shows an image of a watchtower inside the prison, but it is the only picture book that includes images of guards escorting dogs on leashes and carrying guns. Frightening prison officials are also a big part of Jakes prison visits. Actually, most of the pris on guards portrayed in the co ntemporary novels are cranky and rude, with the exception of the fri endly, helpful, and named guards in Hills Do Not Pass Go but the guards and the warden in Ellis Jakeman are uniformly sadistic, bullying and humiliating the young visitors whenever possible. Jake and the other experienced visitors school the first timers about the guards, both to relieve the boredom of waiting and to educate their new friends, saying,
57 I hope youre wearing new underwear because the guards might stripsearch you, and theyll laugh if its torn. They listen in on your conversations, so dont confess to any crimes. If you break even just one rule, t heyll throw you out. (Ellis 48) Of course, they enjoy teasing the newcomers but their observations about the guards willingness to embarrass, th reaten, or evict visitors are s pot-on. Additionally, on a more personal level, Jake notes, It was always scary, waiting to see if Mom remembered him (Ellis 49). While his mother does remember him, her visit with her two children is neither warm nor reassuring as she lashes ou t, blaming the children, as well as her exboyfriend, for landing her in prison. Rather than presenting prison visits as frightening or sad, Hiassens Flush, Butterworths A Visit to the Big House and Hickmans When Andys Father Went to Prison narrate their characters visits with their incarcerated parents very matter-offactly, keeping possible emotional responses to these visits well in check. For example, after Hiassens Noah returns hom e from visiting his father in the local jail, his mother confronts him right away. Noah understands, thinking, I knew she was worried that the jailh ouse visit had shaken me up, so I told her I was fine. She said, Im sure it wasnt easy seeing your father behind bars. They brought him to a private room, I said. He wasnt even wearing handcuffs. My mother frowned slightly. Still, it s not a happy picture. (Hiassen 6) But Noah is seemingly not bothered by any of his jailhouse visits with his father, who sunk a gambling boat that he believed was pol luting the ocean, even when his father is sporting handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. Likewise, Butterworths Willie and Hickmans Andy take their prison visits in stri de, although both of them are initially very upset about their fathers being arrested, and the black and white illustrations in these books are neither detailed nor bleak. Interestingl y too, Noah, Willie, and Andy each visit
58 their incarcerated fathers in a pr ivate room (or at a picnic t able in the prison yard) rather than in a large, crowded visiting room, which may prevent them (and readers) from being influenced by the feelings of other inmates visitors. In contrast, Deet in Hills Do Not Pass Go and the female narrator in Woodsons Visiting Day not only see their fathers in packed visi ting rooms, but they also socialize with the other visitors, actually making their prison visits enjoyable. Of course, both child characters miss their parents and would much rather have them at hom e, but their visits are usually filled with laughter rather than tears or anger. Th ough Deets mother initially forbids him to visit the jail, a terrible place, full of terrible people (Hill 68), she eventually allows him to see his father ev ery day after school since she works during visiting hours. Deet enters t he jail with trepidation, but he soon looks forward to his time there each day. During his first glimpse of the inmates in the visiting room, Deet searched their faces to see what could have brought them to jail, but they were so ordinary. Where were the per verts, the steely-eyed hoodlums, the disgusting underbelly of society? They were prisoners, in jail, but they looked like anybody else you might see in the streets (Hill 102). And this sense of ordinariness and normalcy is central to the image of the jail that Hill presents in her nov el. Deet quickly gets swept up in the stories of the other visitors and his fathers cellmat es, often shocked to remember that these people or their loved ones are in prison and that bad things, like fights, recidivism, and pain, often occur there. As his new fri end Sheena laments her brothers transfer to a prison farther from home, stressing how she will miss seeing the people whom she has come to know in the jails visiting room, Deet realizes, Maybe hed miss visiting too. And he was sure Mom would. Hard to belie ve how your attitude could change (Hill
59 220). The attitude of Woodsons young, fema le narrator never changes, at least not within the pages of the pict ure book. She is always excited about visiting her father because only on Visiting Day do I get to tell Daddy everything that has happened over the month, while I sit on his lap and he pulls on my braids, smiling his big me-andGrandma-have-been-gone-forever smile, l aughing his big laugh, showing me and Grandma off to his friends, pressing peppermints into my hand and kisses against Grandmas cheek (Woodson np). All of the ot her visitors and inmates in Ransomes pictures are smiling and laughin g too, showing how joyful t heir brief time together can be. However happy or sad such visits are, not all of the child characters see their parents in prison. Stauffachers Harry Sue is not even able to locate her incarcerated mother until the end of the novel becaus e her grandmother would not accept her mothers calls, so Harry Sue and her mother have had no contact for years.23 Alcocks Elinor is also desperate to see her father in prison, but he will not allow his children to see him behind bars, although it is unclear whet her this refusal is to protect them or himself. On the other hand, in Booths Tyrell and Lesters When Dad Killed Mom it is the children who refuse to visit their father s. Tyrell recalls taking the bus to see his father in prison when he was younger, but, as he says, I aint never going through that shit again. Im too old for that now. If my pops wanna see me he need to keep his ass home (Booth 113). Similarly, Lesters Jeremy is too angry with his father over the murder of his mother to want to see him any where, let alone in prison. His sister, Jenna, 23 Unlike Harry Sues mother, the Bureau of Justice St atistics states, More than three-quarters of state prison inmates who were parents of minor children repor ted that they had some contact with their children since admission (Glaze and Maruschak 6). This cont act may take the form of letters, phone calls, or visits. And Harry Sue and her mother do finally get to see each other at the end of the story.
60 takes her fathers side, at least initially, insi sting that he was justif ied in shooting their mother, and she does visit hi m a few times. But she stops going because he only wants to discuss the possibility of her testifying on hi s behalf at his trial, and she resents being manipulated. While the younger child characters in the picture books all simply miss their incarcerated parents, who ar e portrayed as loving and repentant, the older child characters in the contempor ary chapter books often have mixed feelings about their imprisoned parents, and thei r parents themselves are a mixed bag, some easily identified as good or bad and some more difficu lt to categorize. Yet, in presenting a variety of child-parent relationships, with all of the accompanying emotions of love, guilt, blame, anger, sadness, compassion, and understanding, as well as an array of individual children in different living situat ions and with different challenges, these books do a much better job addressing the specif ic problems facing children with imprisoned parents than they do at addressing the social ills that contribut ed to the incarcerations of their parents in the first place. Indeed, t hese books concentrate on showing the ways in which their young characters survive their parents mistakes, with some making greater efforts to preserve and protect their frac tured families than other s, but with each child somehow greatly affected by his/her parents incarceration. The suffering of these child characters, not to mention their parents, is often significant, but none of these books blames the legal system for the separation of parent and child, which is somewhat surprising given the willingne ss of several books to criticize the foster care system, another government institution. In fact, most of these books tactfully avoid laying blame upon anyone, although the mother in Ellis Jakeman complains that her childrens needs
61 and her boyfriends habit involved her in drugs and Stauffachers Harry Sue feels responsible for her mothers incarceration and her fathers death in prison. Focusing on survival rather than blame, mo st of these child characters make efforts to heal or at least maintain their families, while also seeking friends and surrogate family members who will help them. These actions allow t hem to overcome, at least partially, the adversity and the stigmatization attached to having a parent in prison. Stigmatizing and Normalizing: Perceptions of Children w ith Parents in Prison These friends and surrogate family mem bers are especially important in the contemporary chapter books. Whereas all of the picture books, save Hickmans When Andys Father Went to Prison spotlight only the child charac ters and their families, all of the chapter books show their central protagonists interacting with other children and adults, often in situations where they are st igmatized for having parents in prison. This stigmatization takes various forms, includi ng taunting, shunning, false sympathy, and suspicions about the child characters ow n criminal futures. Yet even as these characters are stigmatized by their parents incarcerations, they are also normalized through their friendships with other social outcasts, although their normalization is limited and certainly does not usher them into mainstream society. Indeed, by associating closely with other marginalized individuals, the social stigma of having an incarcerated parent may actually be reinforc ed or even increased for child readers, but their friendships with other disadvantaged people certainly ben efit the child characters, giving them a sense of belonging, as well as shared suffering and strength. Rather than expose children to possible ridicu le or social isolation, some adults caution children not to share information abo ut their parents incarceration with people outside of the family. In Williams Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart Mommy says
62 not to tell anyone (22), and in Hills Do Not Pass Go Deet counsels his younger sisters, Jam and P.J., to avoid talking about Dad in school, although he felt bad giving them that warning, because he knew that by doing so hed given them the idea that there was something to be ashamed of (Hill 79). A sense of shame, as well as a desire to protect her children from the ugliness of the truth of their fathers wrongful conviction, motivates the mother in Nesbits The Railway Children to sever all of her ties with the people she used to know before she came to live at Thr ee Chimneys (Nesbit 92), the familys new, smaller residence. Shame and embarrassment may also explain the fath ers reaction to Roses news that she wrote a school pap er about her family in Butterworths A Visit to the Big House Upon hearing about Roses assignment, [h]er daddy didnt look happy at that. Did you say where I was? No, Rose said. I just said you were away. I see, Daddy said, and looked at Mother. (Butterworth 34) Though it is unclear whether Roses vaguene ss about her fathers whereabouts is selfinitiated or guided by her par ents, the mother acquiesces to Willys request to take the picture that he drew of Daddy behind bars to school, even though neither of them knows how Willys classmates will respond to this new information. Willy is seemingly unconcerned about revealing his fathers current home to his classmates, but many of the characters in the chapter books worry about how their peers will react to the news of their parents incarcerations, anticipating both ridicule and rejection. Alcocks Elinor and Patersons An gel are sent to new schools, where they face unknown classmates. Consequently, on the morning of her first day, Elinor remains in bed until the last possible moment, thinki ng, Soon it would be time to get up and go to a new school, where everyone knew about her father. She didnt want to think about
63 that (Alcock 112). Denial is harder to come by for Angel, who has started afresh at multiple grade schools and, therefore, knows fr om experience how she is likely to be talked about and stared at by the other ch ildren. But knowledge about what she is facing does not actually make the first day any easier. Unlike Elinor and Angel, Lesters Jenna and Jeremy and Hills Deet return to the schools that they had attended before their fathers arrests, al though Jeremy refuses to leave the art room and attend his regular classes for several months after lo sing his mother. Jenna too initially wants nothing to do with school, reflecting, Im never going back to that place and have people stare at me like Im some freak on The Jerry Springer Show : CHILDREN ALONE: ONE PARENT DEAD, ONE IN JAIL (Lester 14). Deet, while also specifically concerned about the reactions of his classmates and his teachers, lashes out against the entire to wn in his anger, shame, and fear, seeing their community in a new light. As he observe s, Every car they passed, every person on the street, looked like an enemy, some one who would turn against Dad, against them. The respectable people, the thoughtless people, who wouldnt ask questions, how and why and what sort of person Dad was. T heyd just condemn him. A dark town they were living in, full of hard people. Deet w ondered why he hadnt seen it before (Hill 78). And he probably will not see it again as Deet s friends and neighbors rally around him and his family, offering the greatest level of s upport given in any of the books. In fact, no one ever says a negative word to Deet about his father, although his grandfather is furious about the arrest, and none of the shameful or social ly isolating repercussions that Deet had imagine d come to fruition.
64 Unfortunately, all of the other child charac ters who anticipate social stigmatization from their peers and communities receive it, sometimes in even greater abundance than they had expected. For example, in Hiassens Flush, Noah is relieved that his fathers arrest occurs during the summe r, which meant that Abbey and I didnt have to face all the other kids at once. Its a pretty sma ll town and news gets around fast, so by now it was no secret that our father was in the slammer for sink ing Dusty Mulemans casino boat. Everybody would be talking about it (Hiassen 12). Noah is prepared for the gossip, but he is not anticipat ing the bullying from Muleman s son and his friends or the fight into which he is forced. Toni in Evisons Rainbow Gold is also taken aback by her classmates cruelty, which includes plac ing newspaper articles about convicts and prisons in her desk (278). And, in Hickmans When Andys Father Went to Prison the only picture book in which a child is ostracized for having an incarcerated parent, Andy is devastated when Donald informs him, I ju st cant [come over to play],  My mother wont let me. She said your fat her is a no-good criminal (Hickman np). While such humiliations are new to Andy and Toni, whose parents have been imprisoned only recently, similar experiences are commonplac e to Patersons Angel and Philbricks Max, both of whose parents have been behind bars for years. On the day that Megan Armstrong, a popular girl, confronts Angel about her fathers crime, causing all of the students to stare and whisper, Angel reminds herself, It wasnt as if it hadnt happened before. She ought to be used to it by now, s houldnt she? (Paterson 154). Max too tries to shut out the voices that he hears around him, calling, Max i Pad! Maxi Pad! Ask him quick about his dad! Killer Kane! Killer Kane! Had a kid who got no brain ( Freak 76).
65 Difficult as these open displays of dis dain and condescension are to bear, other child characters struggle to stomach displays of concern and false sympathy, recognizing them as ill-concealed bids for information. Alcocks Elinor perceives the curiosity oozing from [p]eople whod never bo thered to return her smile, [and who] now stopped and asked, How are you, dear. It must have been terri ble for you all (Alcock 86). Similarly, in Hills Do Not Pass Go Sheena, Deets new friend from the prison visiting room, complains that her friends act differently towards her now that her brother is in jail. They [t]hrow little looks at each other, talk in this fakey-sweet voice. They enjoy peoples troubles (Hill 186; italics in origin al), and neither Sheena nor Elinor takes pleasure in providing other people with enjoyment at the expense of themselves and their family members. Yet being seen as a criminal oneself is even worse than being mistreated for having a family member who is a criminal. T he stigmatization of criminality is often passed down in families, and the children of inmates may be viewed as future felons by the police, the community, their families, and even themselves. Boys behavior seems to be especially at risk of being perceived as criminal, probably because of stereotypes about males, the greater num ber of men in American prisons, and boys greater tendency to externalize their feelings and frustrations. In Ellis Jakeman the prison authorities and the social workers alike label several of the boys who are visiting their incarcer ated mothers as future criminals. When Harlan, a teenage boy, shows a guard a picture of his mot her, whom he believes was killed by the prisons refusal to provide her with medical treatment when she said that she was ill, the guard threat ens him, telling his laughing co -workers, This ones a crime
66 waiting to happen (Ellis 55). Another guard notices the non-confrontational Jake scooting away from the fence because he is afraid of the barbed wire falling and cutting him and says, Dont you like barbed wire, boy?  Better get used to it. Youll probably spend your whole life looking thro ugh it (Ellis 50). Warden Scofield also makes a point of telling Jake and Shoshona that she keeps the prison visiting room as bleak and inhospitable as possible, lest the child visitors begin to feel at home (Ellis 76), and, according to their Social Services files, Jake and especially Harlan are likely to find a future home behind bars. While hearing such dire predictions about their futures cannot help Jakes and Harlans self-images, no character appears to be more terrifiedor certainof his violently criminal future than Philbricks Max, who is a dead ringer for his father, both in looks and in size. As Max remarks, Looking lik e your father is okay unless dear old Dad happens to be Killer Kane and hes in prison fo r murdering your mother. Which means people look at me and think maybe Ill grow up to be just like him, or worse ( Max 15). Even Maxs guardians, his grandpar ents, take years to see Max as himself, not as the son of the man who killed thei r daughter. Because of his par entage, his large stature, and other peoples distrust of him, Max does not trust himself, and he sees himself as someone whom people should fear. For example, when Mrs. Addison, the school principal, informs Max that his father has an upcoming parole hearing and would like to see him, Max shuts down. Then, a fter regaining his calm, he realizes, Its like I blanked out or something, and the nurse is giving me this cup of water, and the weird thing is shes crying. Im sorry, I say. I didnt mean to hurt you. You didnt, she says. I cry easy, dont you worry about it. I do worry about it, though, because if s hes crying, I must have hit her and I dont remember it. Which, if you think about it, is really scary.
67 Who knows what I might do and then not remember it? ( Freak 85-86; italics in original) Even after he befriends Kevin and assi sts him in quests to help people in Freak the Mighty and rescues Worm from her abusive stepfather in the subsequent Max the Mighty Max only begins to trust himself at t he end of the second novel, largely because the people around him show that they trust hi m. Finally, Max accepts that he may not turn out to be another accident of nature ( Freak 139), like his father. If being an accident of nature means being a criminal, however, there is nothing that Stauffachers Harry Sue would like to bec ome more, at least for most of the story. She introduces herself to r eaders as someone who intends on following in the family tradition: a career of incarc eration. As soon as I was old enough, I was headed for the joint. First I had to have the required fourt een to sixteen years of rotten childhood. So far, I had only served eleven years and change (Stauffacher 3). Besides her rotten childhood, Harry Sues other qualifications for being a future connette24 including having both of her parents incarcerated at o ne point (her father is now deceased, having died in prison) and liv ing with a grandmother who, as her friend, Homer, says, trained her father to use violence to deal with his problems (Stauffacher 12). Harry Sue exploits the fact that her background pr edisposes her to a life of crime because she thinks that being incarcerated is her only c hance of being reunited with her mother. The only female character with an imprisoned parent to act out rather than internalize her problems, Harry Sue is a mast er at staring down her teac hers, destroying art supplies, electrocuting a boy with a ri gged brassiere, coating black board erasers with extra chalk 24 A connette is a female convict. Stauffachers Harry Sue includes a glossary of Conglish, the English slang spoken by American convicts. Similarly, the historical novel, The Pickpockets Tale by Karen Schwabach (2008), discussed in Chapter 3, contains a glossary of flash-cant, expressions used by London criminals in the 1730s.
68 dust so that she can get prissy Violet as dirty as possible, and engaging in any other behaviors she can think of that may prove th at she is irredeemable. Yet Harry Sue also stands up for younger children, dries Homers t ears, shares her food, and saves Violets life when the extra chalk dust on the erasers triggers an asthma attack.25 Disgusted by her inability to behave like a crim inaladmittedly, she has a very stereotypical idea of how criminals behaveHarry Sue eventually deci des to make a home for herself on the outside in a community of friends rather t han to continue working towards her own cell behind bars. Though Harry Sue probably overemphasizes the calculated personal choice involved in deciding on a life of crime or not, statistics do show that the adolescent children of incarcerated parents are anywhere fr om one-half to three times as likely to be arrested as their peers (Eddy and Reid 237) While this reality does not justify the prison officials and social workers labeli ng of Jake and Harlan or help soothe Maxs anxieties, it does show that t he cycle of incarceration that characters such as Patersons Angel and Grandma and Booths Tyrell worry about is a valid concern. Interestingly, neither Angel nor Grandma appea rs anxious about Angels possi ble criminal career, but both of them are concerned about seven-year-o ld Bernies future. When Bernie refuses to obey once too often, Angel cries, Im tr ying to keep you outta jail, Bernie Morgan. I dont want you to grow up to be a criminal and leave your wif e and b-b-break your childrens hearts (Paterson 100). Obviously, A ngel is projecting their fathers life onto Bernie, but Grandma has seen both of her sons, as well as her grandson (Angel and 25 Harry Sue constantly berates hers elf for these acts of kindness since she thinks that she must be without a heart, like the Tin Man in her favorite book, The Wizard of Oz in order to survive in prison. Obsessed with The Wizard of Oz which her mother read to her, Harr y Sue also compares herself to Dorothy, asking, Why couldnt I be more like Dorothy? She wastes two witches without even trying and doesnt lose sleep over it. I couldnt even do an accident right (Stauffacher 100-101).
69 Bernies father), go to prison.26 She fears that she may so mehow be responsible for all of their incarcerations, but she also seems to regard such imprisonments as commonplace, hoping, I just pray to G od I dont live long enough to see that boy [Bernie] go to jail (Paterson 210). Tyrell is also apprehensive about following hi s fathers footsteps straight into a prison cell, at least at the beginning of Booths novel. His friend, Cal, who also has an incarcerated father, is the first person to tell you, he gonna end up in jail. Soon. Thats just how he livin (Booth 59). Unlike Cal, Tyrell is largely leading a life of inactivity when the story starts, but, feeling pressured to support his mother and his little brother, Tyrell throws his first illegal party at a school bus depot. By the partys end, they have wrecked and vandalized the depot, but Tyrell conclude s, [W]e aint got caught, everybody had fun, and I got rent money. Far as Im concerned, thats all that count (Booth 292). Tyrell no longer seems afraid to risk a prison sent ence as he plans his career as a DJ and party organizer and moves in with Cal and his br others, all of whom are drug dealers. Undoubtedly, Tyrell is the character who is most at risk of ending up behind bars at the novels conclusion. To be sure, the fu tures of many of the other characters are also uncertain, but, unlike Tyrell, these characters have established supportive communities of friends, adopted relatives, and biological relatives who attempt to keep them out of trouble. As Parke and Clarke-Stewart remark, Yet another predictor of how well children adjust to parental incarceration is likely to be the quality of relationships 26 Readers do not learn why Waynes father went to pr ison, but readers do learn that Waynes uncle, Ray, whom Angel knows as the star man, stole to supp ort his drug habit. After his death, Angel and Miss Liza talk about Ray Morgan, about how hed longed to go to college and become an astronomer, but went, instead, to war and in that short time lived through so much killing he drugged himself for years afterward, trying to dull the pain of all that horror (Paterson 223). Ray is an excellent example of a good person who went to prison.
70 within their extended families and their nonfamily informal social networks (205). While the picture book characters seek comfort and consolation almo st exclusively within their biological families, the characters in the c ontemporary novels, including Booths Tyrell, find support within the larger community, al beit always from people who have also been excluded from mainstream society. The reasons why these other and otheredcharacters ex ist on the outskirts of mainstream society vary. Pecks Molly befriends Will, the boy next door, whose father is supposedly in jail, but he is actually dying of AIDS in an upstairs bedroom.27 Like Mollys mother, Wills father is a dr ug addict too. Stauffachers Ha rry Sue is best friends with a quadriplegic who was injured in a diving acci dent and now lives in a tree house, furious at the world. And the people who become Harry Sues legal guardians after her grandmother goes to prison are a lost boy from Sudan (now grown up) and a confrontational home health care worker who was severely ill as a child and who lost her first husband, another quadriplegic. Afte r Philbricks Max befriends Kevin, a boy genius who eventually dies of a congenital bi rth defect that also prevented his physical growth, Max takes Worm, an abused child with a deceased father, under his wing. In addition to her Uncle Ray, a former drug user and an ex-con whom she calls the star man because of his love of astronomy, A ngel also bonds with Miss Liza, a librarian with a spinal deformity that has drastically affected her size and posture. Lesters Jenna dates Gregory, whose father committed su icide and whose mother has been in a mental institution since his fathers death, whereas Jeremy attaches himsel f to his art teacher, 27 Wills parents told the neighbors that their son was in jail because, as Will says, If youve got somebody in jail, people dont ask (Peck 110). But AIDS is obviously horribly stigmatized in this small town if Wills grandparents are more comfortable telli ng people that their son is in prison. And, indeed, after Wills father dies and people learn what he died fr om, they treat Will differently, making fun of him, wearing gloves to treat his skinned knee, and encouraging him to stay out of school.
71 who also lost her mother as a child. Hia ssens Noah seeks help from several of the towns oddballs in proving that Dusty Mule man really is contaminating the ocean, and his grandfather, who had faked his own death years earlier to extricate himself from legal difficulties, returns to hel p Noah and his family. In Patrons The Higher Power of Lucky, the only novel that further normalizes ch ildren with parents in prison by making one of them a supporting character rather t han the chief protagonist, Miles, the child with an incarcerated mother, is presented alongside Lucky, whose mother died, in a trailer park community filled with all kinds of recovering addicts. At her new home, Alcocks Elinor lives with Timon, Mrs. Cart ers adopted son, a former thief who resided in a childrens home because his stepfather hit him. At her new school, Elinor is also paired up with Janet, the daughter of a police officer, who is both teased and avoided because of her fathers profession. Though the majority of child characte rs with incarcerated parents in the contemporary chapter books are normalized or at least have their marginality minimizedby their friendships with other people who are also social outsiders, other child characters are normalized by their a ssociation with other children who have a parent in prison (which, of course, renders them socially stigmatized as well). Ellis Jake and Shoshona visit their mother in prison in the company of other foster children who are all visiting their incarcerated female relatives, and Hills Deet befriends numerous people whom he meets in the prison visiting room including Sheena, a girl in his class. (Dennis Slater, a popular athlet e at school, also turns out to have a big brother in jail with Deets father, but no one at school knows about Dennis brother. Nor is Dennis allowed to visit his brother, so, while he f eels separated from his peers, he is not treated
72 as an outcast). Deets mother has a simila r experience, in which people share stories about their own run-ins with the law with her. As she tells Deet, But you couldnt believe how many people ask me about Dad right aw ay, not even embarrassed, and start telling me about their boyfriend or brother or even t hemselves getting in trouble. Like I just joined some kind of club ( Hill 88). Whereas Deet and his mother are shocked to find out that so many ordinary people in t heir community have been on the wrong side of the law, Tyrell and his friends regard a parents imprisonment as a standard, well-known occurrence. Yet, perhaps because of the comm onality and the visibility of incarceration in his neighborhood, which almost erases the social stigma of having a parent in prison, many of his friends and even his mother advocate Tyrells involvement with illegal activities, regarding the possible legal consequences as a necessary risk. This recurrent pattern of connecting ch ild characters who have a parent behind bars with other marginalized characters, bot h adults and children, serves two divergent purposes. On the one hand, it reinforces th e assumption that having an incarcerated parent is indeed a social stigma, one t hat may even be comparable to having a disfiguring disease, a dec eased parent, or an abusive relative. These comparisons make the predicaments of children with incarc erated parents seem more dire, especially for real-life children in the sa me situation, and, for other young readers, they cement the outsider status of children with imprisoned parents, even as they suggest that these children merit the same sympathy as other disadvantaged people. On the other hand, by presenting these child characters as people with a specific loss or problem, like so many other people who are also suffering from a particular loss, problem, or disadvantage, the marginalization of all of these characters is lessened. They may not
73 be fully normalized, but they are no longer is olated in their own pain. Lesters Jenna especially recognizes the importance of uniting with other people who have survived similar losses, and she creates The Haven, an online community for children who have lost a parent.28 Likewise, in Hills Do Not Pass Go Sheena would like to establish meetings, like Al-Anon,29 for kids with someone in jail. So theyd have someone to talk to too (Hill 186). For many of these characters, it is enough to spend time with other people who have suffered and survived some tr agedy or setback. They do not have to share the same misfortune because these characters recognize and respect the emotional strength and life lessons that ar e gained through suffering, and they realize how their endurance of certain situations and conditions sets them apart. As Lesters Jeremy observes when he finally returns to his classroom after hi s mothers death and his fathers sentencing, Everything that had happened at the trial, what I did and all, was in the papers and on television and the other kids seem like they look up to me now, like I know things they dont. And I do (Lester 188).30 So do the other child characters with incarcerated parents. 28 Jenna comes up with the plan for The Haven after l earning about the AIDS quilt, where family members contribute squares of messages and pictures about t he person they lost to AIDS. She wonders, What if I started a website where kids could put pictures of the parent who died and write about them? It would be like this incredible quilt, except you wouldnt have to make a trip someplace to see it. No matter where you were, it would be there. Maybe kids from places like Kosovo or Northern Ireland whove lost parents killed in wars would write stuff, and it wouldnt matte r if you couldnt read the language they were writing in because youd know, youd just know, what they were saying (Lester 161). I find it really interesting too that Jenna and Jeremy identify themselves more as children who have lost a parent than as children with a parent in prison. 29 Al-Anon is a twelve-step support group for friends and family members of alcoholics. 30 Jeremy tells the judge at his fathers trial about hi s mothers diary, which he has kept hidden since he found it in her art studio after her death. The judg e reads the diary, and Jennas and Jeremys fathers defense of suffering from battered spouse syndrome is disproved. Chapter Five discusses books with trials in them, but I did not include this book in t hat chapter since the trial begins but is abruptly recessed when their fathers lies are discovered. He conf esses to his children and the court in the judges chambers, and he accepts a plea bargain rather than resume the trial.
74 Because of the knowledge and support that the characters have acquired from other social outcasts in their communities and/ or from their own fam ilies, most of these books suggest that their child protagonists will overcome the adversity of having a parent in prison and will ultimately be all right. This reassuring message is important because all of these boo ks, except Booths Tyrell, are for young readers in elementary or middle school, probably making the issue of parental incarceration one of the first legal subjects that child readers discover in books. Moreover, these books, especially the picture books, are clearly intended to serve as mirrors t hat provide opportunities for real-life children with incarc erated parents to find characte rs like themselves in the stories that they read. Of c ourse, these books also allow other children to learn about the subculture of children with parents behind bars, encouraging them to develop empathy for these children and, hopefully, reducing the stigmatization of having a parent in prison. Yet as vital as it is to have books that focus on individual representations of children with a parent in prison, especially for child readers in this situation, the relegation of the larger social issues surrounding imprisonment, like race and class, to the background in these books, prevents child readers from seeing issues of incarceration as societal problems t hat they can question and perhaps address when they are older. Subsequent chapters will also consider the tendency of childrens books about the criminal justice syst em to emphasize the behaviors of individuals within the legal institution rather t han the institution itself.
75 CHAPTER 3 MARKING CHANGE, CONTINUITY, AND TH E PASSAGE OF TIM E: HISTORICAL FICTION ABOUT PRISONS Bells resounded regularly throughout prisons in Victorian England. They woke the prisoners in the morning, recorded the passage of time throughout the day, alerted visitors of the need to leave before the gates were locked, and announced the executions of inmates. Today, the drone and cry of buzzers and alarms have replaced the ringing of bells in prisons, but all of t hese sounds mark both changes and continuity in the prisoners isolated world, just as works of historical fiction attempt to mark the changes and continuity that their authors perceive in the world around them. Of course, as a genre, historical fiction1 is intended to transport readers to a new and unfamiliar albeit past and historically a ccuratetime and place. So hist orical novels that include prisons, their practices, and their effect s on those confined wit hin them serve as excellent multicultural win dows that can educate young readers about prison conditions in the past and promote empat hy for past prisoners and, ideally, present and future ones as well.2 1 The genre of historical fiction has been classifi ed and defined in numerous ways. As Joanne Brown and Nancy St. Clair state in The Distant Mirror: Reflections on Young Adult Historical Fiction (2006), Amy J. Elias has offered a definition [of hist orical fiction] that is both concise and sufficiently encompassing. In Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction she lists three primary characteristics that mark the genre: 1. specific historical detail, featured prominently, is crucial to plot or character development or some experimental representation of these narrative attributes; 2. a sense of history informs all facets of the fict ional construct (from authorial perspective to character development to selection of place); 3. this sense of history emerges from and is co nstructed by the text itself. (11; italics in original) For the purpose of this project, I am using Elias definition of historical fiction. 2 Works of historical fiction about tr ials are discussed in Chapter Five.
76 Two related samples of childrens boo ks about prisons are addressed in this chapter. The first section explores works fo und in the Baldwin Library of Historical Childrens Literature at the University of Florida, a special collection of volumes that were loved and read by children and so or dinary that no one else [besides Ruth Baldwin] collected them (Smith 300). The books about prisons that I located in this archive are a mixture of c lassic and obscure texts and have publication dates ranging from the 1850s to 1920. The second section exam ines contemporary works of historical fiction that include prisons. While the public ation dates of these books are far more recent, their stories are set between 1730 and 1969 with the majority of the books set in the mid-1800s. These contemporary historical novels were always intended to be works of historical fiction, but t he books from the Baldwin Library, once works of contemporary fiction, can now be read as part of the hist orical literary record, one that has influenced the writing and publication of the contemporary historical novels. As Joanne Brown and Nancy St. Clair explain in The Distant Mirror: Reflections on Young Adult Historical Fiction (2006), Certainly, there is a distinction between fiction that fr om its inception is set in the past and fiction whose publicat ion is contemporaneous with its readers; however, with the passage of time the latter in volves readers in a historical period and imparts knowledge of it just as fiction does that is deliberately set in the past (11). Yet, even though both samples of books provide important knowledge a bout the past, the contemporary works frequently o ffer more graphic descriptions of prisons and prison life than their earlier counterparts, as well as a more complex assessment of prison practices and the negative effects of incarc eration, reflecting, obviously, more contemporary attitudes and concerns.
77 In addition to being sorted by their publicatio n dates, most of these novels can also be categorized as either Americ an or British, focusing on the books settings rather than on their authors nationalities. Among the books found in the Ba ldwin Library, four are set in England, four are set in America, and three are set elsewhere. Among the contemporary works of historical fiction, seven of the books (or at least the delivery of their legal verdicts and sentences) take pl ace in England, and two take place in America. In total, eleven of the works conduct legal business in British courts of law and prisons, predominantly around the time of the Victorian era.3 This recurrent use of Vict orian England as the books setting, especially in the contemporary historical novels, raises in teresting questions bot h about the cultural fascination with this particular setting and about the larger connection between contemporary historical fiction an d the historical literary reco rd (as well as what we now know as historical fact). Indeed, contemporary historical fiction about prisons builds upon the literary record of earlier childrens b ooks on this subject, as well as on the much admired and often imitated works of C harles Dickens. The literary influence of Dickens, as well as the absence of a cohesiv e American penal system (either in reality or in print), and the rigid social class hierarchy of this era in England all contribute to the 3 Of the books found in the Baldwin Library, Mrs. Edwin Sheppards Hester Powers Girlhood (1867), Charlotte Mary Yonges The Trial: More Links of the Daisy Chain (1868), Caroline Chesebros The Poachers Sons (1879?), and E. Nesbits The Railway Children (1905) are set in England; Clara F. Guernseys The Silver Cup (1865), It Wont Hurt You (1868), Mark Twains The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and Millicent Evisons Rainbow Gold (1920) are set in America; A.L.O.Es The Prisoner and the Peach (186?) is set in Italy; Eliza Weaver Bradburns Rosa, or, The Two Castles (1863?) is set in Happy Castle and Captive Castle; and the setting of The Eye of God Every-where (185?) is unspecified. Of the contemporary works of histor ical fiction, only M.P. Barkers A Difficult Boy (2008) and Chris Carlton Browns Hoppergrass (2009) take place exclusively in America, while Paul Bajorias The Printers Devil (2005), Eleanor Updales Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? (2005), and Avis The Traitors Gate (2007) are set entirely in England. In Ian Lawrences The Convicts (2005), The Cannibals: The Curse of the Jolly Stone TrilogyBook II (2007), and The Castaways: The Curse of the Jolly StoneBook III (2007) and Karen Schwabachs The Pickpockets Tale (2008), the prisoners are tried, sentenced, and confined within British prisons before being transp orted to Australia and America, respectively.
78 repeated use of Victorian England as a setti ng for these childrens books about prisons. But, even as the contemporary historical novel s return to earlier settings, like Victorian England, they also reflect more contemporar y values and views, both about childrens literature and about the legal system. Nevertheless, as comparisons between the older works and the contemporary historical novel s demonstrate, the very expectation that historical fiction should raise readers awarene ss about prisons is historical and part of the effect of the literary tradition. Additionally, the use of Victorian Englan d as a setting in contemporary works of historical fiction enhances t he distancing effect, particularly for American readers, by locating the stories events not only in the past but also in another country.4 The distancing effect, in which readers are able to view social injustices in other times and places that are simultaneously alien and famili ar to them, is a hallmark of historical fiction more broadly (as well as of fantasy fiction). Such removal or distance from sensitive subject matter, like prisons and questi ons about the political and social factors that influence who ends up in them, can certainly make these topics safer and easier to approach, especially with young readers. For example, num erous contemporary historical novels about prisons take place in Victorian Englandor even earlier in the case of The Pickpockets Tale where the distance of both time and/or geography more readily permits authors and readers to examine the ways in which prisoners and the prison system itself are influenced by issues of socioeconomic class, a factor that many Americans tend to dismiss or deny. Of cour se, there is a danger that the distance that 4 All of the contemporary works of historical fiction have been pu blished by American publishers and marketed to American children and teens, so, while at least two of the books by British authors were also published in England, Im concentrating more on the ways in which these books can be seen by American readers.
79 historical fiction provides can allow readers and even authors to overlook the relevance of the problems of the past or to feel merely congratulatory about how much our current prison system has evolved. But, at the same time, historical fiction, by the very nature of this distance, opens up topics that may otherwise be unaddressed or at least underaddressed, particularly in childrens and y oung adult literature, and learning about the conditions and practices of past penal systems may encourage some readers to become more aware of the system in the present. Becoming Historical: Books from th e Baldw in Library about Prisons Over 15 million people passed through En glish and Welsh prisons between 1837 and 1901 (Priestly 52). As the police, the pol iticians, and the public struggled to cope with this large number of inmates and with the rapidly growing prison system that housed them, prison reform became a central, recurring debate in Victorian England. Government officials and citizens argued about individual elements of the prison system, like debtors prisons, transportati on, capital punishment, and the separate system (a form of solitary confinement), as well as about the larger issue of the proper roles of rehabilitation and punishment within a prisons walls. Yet, while views on the system were varied, Englands penal system itself was well unified, having been established over 200 years earlier. In the younger United States, however, The new apparatus [a police force, prisons, and juvenile institutions] emerged slowly, institution by institution, in an ad hoc fashion.  Individual reforme rs focused on particular solutions to immediate problems: the police as a response to urban disorder; the prison as an alternative to corporal punishments. Building the system took a hundred years and was not complete until about 1920 (Walker 50). Indeed, while debates in Victorian England raged over
80 competing prison reform movements, the emerging American prison system was this countrys reform. No wonder then that, whil e prison reformers in general are mentioned, the American prison reform movement during th is time does not receive the kind of scholarly attention and documentation giv en to the reform mo vements in England. Moreover, as Lawrence M. Friedman explains in Crime and Punishment in American History (1993), the reforms that did occur in the United States affec ted, on the whole, the great northern penitentiari es and certain special categories of offendersnotably, children. But they left virtually untouc hed the huge squalid mass of county and local prisons: the end of the line for thousands of men and women who were picked up for drunkenness or vagrancy, as well as brawle rs, petty thieves, and countless others (166). This slow and geographically erratic emergence of a penal system also prevents scholars from accurately estimating how many people were incarcerated in American prisons and jails during this time. Despite the different developmental stages of the separate criminal justice systems in America and England, many of the childrens books about prisons written in both countries during this era provide only g eneralized descriptions of prisons for their young readers. For example, in the books set in England, dreariness, lack of light, and cramped or underground spaces emerge as recurring aspects of prison, though the descriptions vary in detail and inte nsity. In Eliza Weaver Bradburns Rosa, or the Two Castles (186?), as the Porter and Rosa descend to the dungeon through long, dimlylighted passages, the Porter informs Rosa that it is a long time since they [the prisoners cells] were swept, implying that the worst thing about prison may be its dust (53). Charlotte Mary Yonges The Trial: More Lin ks of the Daisy Chain (1868), which
81 offers the most historically accurate and detailed account of the Vict orian English prison system of any of the older wor ks, describes the physical stru cture of the prisons and the cells in a calm, factual manner. As she explains, a cell is [j]ust twice as wide as a coffin  t hough, happily, there is more liberality of height [.] There was a ground glass window opposite to the door, and a shelf, holding a Bible, Prayer and hymn book, and two others, one religious, and one secular, from the library. A rust-colored jacket, with a black patch marked with white numbers, and a tarpaulin hat, crossed with two lines of red paint on the crown, hung on the wall. (Yonge 309)5 Finally, in The Eye of God Every-where (185?), the portrayal of the jailers ever present scrutiny through one small open ing, large enough for an eye to look through (5) and the inmates consequent madness suggests that prison should perhaps be seen as an intimidating, if not terrifying, environment. With less variation in tone, the prisons fr om the childrens books set in America are also described in vague generalities, acco mpanied by a seeming intention of not frightening young readers. The modern American prison, wh ich first emerged in the 1820s, attracted a great deal of attention from European countries, especially France and Great Britain, even though prisons appeared initially in England in the 1500s (Walker 80-81). Yet the American prisons do not appear to any advantage over the English ones in the literary record; both c ountries penal institutions shared the same focuses on work, religion, limited human cont act, and punishment. The descriptions of prisons in American works for children, ho wever, greatly soften the actual physical conditions found in many cells. For example, in It Wont Hurt You (1868), a story about the evils of alcohol, life in a prison is de scribed as being closed in by stone walls and 5 Yonges descriptions of prisons and prison practice s coincide almost perfectly with those detailed by Philip Priestley in Victorian Prison Lives: English Prison Biography 1830-1914 (1985), right down to the reading materials found in the white-washed cells. As part of her research for The Trial, she visited Portland Prison (Hayter 40).
82 iron bars (60), and the little used jail in Tom Sa wyers St. Petersburg is a trifling little brick den that stood in a marsh at the edge of the village without any guards ( Tom Sawyer 78). In Millicent Evisons Rainbow Gold (1920), Mr. Hamilton refuses to let his children see him in prison (28), but the narrator depicts Mr. Hamilton at Christmas as sitting alone in his cell, gazing through t he high window which formed a frame for a square of starry sky. On a small shelf-lik e table beside him were a few books, some sprays of holly, and some open letters (198). While most of the descriptions of the pr isons physical characteristics in books set in both England and America consist of non-th reatening generalities, several of the British books, most notably Yonges The Trial: More Links of the Daisy Chain address issues specific to Englands prison system of the era in ways that the American books do not, quite possibly because of the lack of uni formity in the American criminal justice system. The Trial divides its pages between the continui ng chronicles of the May family, first introduced in The Daisy Chain or Aspirations: A Family Chronicle (1856), and the sufferings and triumphs of Leonard Ward, a fa mily friend who is wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the murder of his uncle.6 This work is also the only childrens novel that I found in the Baldwin Library that refuses either to di sengage itself from the penal practices of its time or merely to validate them. Even so, the judici al process, which is only partially described, never actually fa lls under scrutiny, fo r even Dr. May, the staunchest supporter of the innocent prisoner Leonard Ward, concedes that everyone who merely saw the newspaper report in bla ck and white, without coming into personal 6 The Trial: More Links of the Daisy Chain is a sequel to The Daisy Chain or Aspirations: A Family Chronicle which Yonge describes as a domestic record of home events, large and small, during those years of early life when the character is chiefly formedan endeavor to trace the effects of those aspirations which are a part of ev ery youthful nature (Hayter 6). The Daisy Chain describes the comingof-age of the May children, most of whom have reached adulthood before the opening of The Trial
83 contact with the prisoner, coul d not understand how the slightest question of the justice of the verdict could arise (Yonge 226-227). Th rough such observations, the integrity of Englands judicial system is repeatedly and loyally defended. As June Sturrock remarks, [D]espite its presentation of the rela tion between family hierarchy and family violence, and the reliance of its plot on a failure of the justice system, The Trial overtly argues for traditional power rela tions both in social institutions and in the family.  Leonard, his sister s, and the May family all come to regard the murder and its consequences in part as a lesson in the necessity for being submissive and yielding ( 237) to patriarchal figures (111), as well as to God. In fact, the only i ndividuals associated with the trial whom Yonge describes with indignity and scorn are the courtroom gossips and sightseers who flock in droves to Vintry Mill, the murder site destroying furniture and ripping wallpaper to collect memorials of the murderer, Ward (Yonge 227). Though Yonge criticizes these i ndividuals who cling to the fringes of the judicial system that she defends, she still champions the individuals central to the functioning of the prison system, even as she subjects the penal system itself to critique. While the novels characters never fail to describe t he prison officials as fair and full of all consideration (Yonge 231), t he descriptions and, more importantly, the effects of certain practices, such as the separate syst em at existing, contemporary prisons like Pentonville and Millbank, where the fict ional Leonard is housed, concern and alarm many of the storys characte rs. Moreover, since the novel portrays Leonard Ward both before and after, as well as during, his thre e and a half years of in carceration, readers receive a much more detailed impression of the devastating effects of institutionalization than they do from any of the ot her works referenced. In parti cular, the novel effectively conveys the long-term results of living under continual isolation and constant scrutiny,
84 two elements that were essential to Englands use of t he separate system and panopticism. This continual isolation occurs in most of the fictional prison works set in England, just as it occurred historically under the penal practice called the separate system. This practice of solitary confinem ent appears at the forefront of prison development at the beginning of the Victorian era and serves as the disciplinary model on which first Pentonville and then numerous other English prisons were constructed (Priestley 3637). Captain Joshua Jebb, the designer of th e revolutionary Pentonville, praised the separate system, claiming that in depriving a prisoner of the contaminating influences arising from being associated with his fe llow prisoners, all the good influences which can be brought to bear upon his character are subs tituted for them (Pri estley 36). Like Captain Jebb, many people lauded the reformative aspects of the separate system, which supposedly provided inmates with t he solitude needed to pray and to repent (Priestley 37). Others more highly prized t he punitive dimension of the system, which condemned convicts to extended periods of enforced isolation with no companions except their own bitter thoughts (Priestley 37). The British childrens stories present the punitive, not the reforma tive, view of the separate system. For exam ple, in A.L.O.E.s The Prisoner and the Peach (186?), Marco Colletti sits in his solitary cell for weeks on end until he begins to feel as if all the world had forgotten him, and like many others when in long trouble he was tempted to feel as if God had forgotten him too (13). Similarly, even the steadfast Sir Elbert in Rosa, or The Two Castles wearies under his prison conditions, and, in The Trial prison solitude is pronounced terrible even by Ethel May, a character who greatly values reflection
85 and repentance (Yonge 292). In fact, this ext ended period of isolation plays such havoc with Leonards thoughts that he can no longer be confident that he did not commit the murder for which he is impr isoned, and he is forced to a sk Dr. May about his guilt even after receiving his official pardon and rel ease papers. Leonard explains his uncertainty to Dr. May, reflecting, At Millbank [an existing prison employ ing the separate system], I generally thought I remembered it [the murder] just as they de scribed it in court, and that it was some miserable ruinous delusion that hindered my confessing; but the odd thing was, that the moment any one opened my door, I forgot all about itresolutions and all, and was myself again. Then surely surely you left that horror with the solitude? Yes, till lately; but when it did come back, I could not be sure what was recollection of fact, and what was of my own fancy. (Yonge 365) Swayed, perhaps by fictional accounts su ch as this, in which a man comes to doubt his own innocence, as well as by other documented cases of mental disturbances and breakdowns in prisoners, the public gra dually withdrew its s upport of the separate system. The period of solitary confinement sl owly decreased from 18 months to 28 days under the 1877 Prison Act (Priestley 39). Nevertheless, when The Trial was first published in 1864, the typical period of isolati on lasted for nine months (Priestley 39), a length of time that Yonge obvi ously considered far too long. A particular aspect of the separate system that appealed to many reformers was the fact that, as Captain J ebb boasts, scarcely an hour in the day will pass without his [the prisoners] seeing one or other of the prison officers (Priestley 36). Conversely, scarcely a second of the day passed in which the prison officers were not able to see the prisoners. This incessant observation is the key characteristic of the Panopticon, a prison structure designed by Jeremy Bentham in 1785. Since the prisoners can never be certain who is watching them or when this observation is occurring, they are forced
86 to be on their guard against violating the rules constantly, lest they be caught and punished. As Foucault explains, Hence the majo r effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and perm anent visibility that a ssures the automatic functioning of power (201). In fa ct, this visibility often ex tends beyond the walls of the institution, sometimes thr ough the prisoners internalizat ion of the institutions watchfulness and sometimes through the far-reachi ng eyes of other institutional officials or concerned citizens. Some released convicts continue to perceive the visibility of t he law and its power in their own minds and act acco rdingly. For example, in The Eye of God Every-where soldiers constantly observe Marcus, a traito r who joined a conspiracy to assassinate the king, through a small hole in his cells wall until he is driven insane by the constant, staring presence of an eye. As the narrato r reports, How he tried to escape that vengeful eye!moved to every corner of hi s denhid his face in the straw, the only thing it contained; even then he seem[ed] to feel it was watching him ( Eye 6; italics in original). This feeling continues to terrori ze him after his release, and only the loving glance of his sister can suppress it, even temporarily. Likewise, in The Trial Leonard retains his sanity, but the combination of the constant supervision and the isolation renders him thoroughly passive and obedient, almost without a mind of his own. He cannot eat, read, or write a letter until someo ne bids him to do so. As Dr. May observes, If one told him to chop off his finger, he would do it, and never show whether he liked it  I never saw spirit so quenched (Yonge 372). Thus, in showing the radical change that has come over Leonard, former ly an unusually strong-minded and stubborn
87 individual, after only three and half years in pr ison, Yonge forces readers to consider the damaging effects of panoptic ism and the separate system. Several other authors also poi nt out the negative effects of incarceration, though they do not critique or c ondemn any particular prison pr actice. For example, when Father waits in the garden to rejoin his fam ily after he is exoner ated and released from prison in E. Nesbits The Railway Children (1961), first published in 1905, the narrator observes, I see Father walking in the gardenwaiting. He is looking at the flowers, and each flower is a miracle to eyes that a ll these months of spring and summer have seen only flagstones and gravel and a little grudging grass (222). While this indirect acknowledgement of what Fat her has suffered in his mont hs of captivity may seem small, it is actually quite significant in a book in which two of Fathers children never learn of his imprisonment. Furthermo re, in Evisons more forthright Rainbow Gold, when the innocent Mr. Hamilton is re leased from prison, his face had a peculiar yellow pallor, due to close confinement (358). Likewise, in Caroline Chesebros The Poachers Sons (1879?), the narrator states, At t he expiration of his term [t hree years imprisonment for shooting the games keeper], George Sandhurst was released from prison; but the confinement and the restraints of prison-lif e had so told upon his health, that he did not live many months after his release (91-92) Chesebro provides no details about what these restraints of prison-life (91) ar e, but both she and Evison acknowledge that incarceration produces physical consequences. Clara F. Guernseys The Silver Cup (1865), a novel about two boys who are wrongfully convicted of stealing a silver cup, and Mrs. Edwin Sheppards Hester Powers Girlhood (1867), a story about a teenage girl wrongfully imprisoned for stealing
88 four pieces of jewelry, make this point even more explicitly. The Silver Cup also emphasizes the almost complete freedom th at each American warden and jailer has over his own institution, thereby rendering the treatment under each man unique.7 As Friedman states, Despite all these inst itutional changes [for childrenhouses of refuge, reform schools, private industrial schools], children could still be arrested, detained, tried, and sent to pr isons in many states (165).8 Thus, Lucian Martin and Bunny experience an adult prison for, [a]t t hat time there was no House of Refuge or juvenile prison in the state.  They were al lowed to walk in the jail-yard for two hours a day, but were kept locked up the rest of the time in a tiny whitewashed room with a grated window, where the only furniture was a bed, two chairs and a table (Guernsey 222). While Mr. Bruce, the jailer, is descr ibed as very kind (Guernsey 228) and is portrayed as lenient in his tr eatment of the two boys, St ephens, the under-jailer, beats Bunny, a lame, very young child,9 with a horsewhip for refusing to pick up his basketwork before turning the lash on Lucian for attempting to protect the younger Bunny (Guernsey 247-251). Bunny never fully recovers from this attack and dies shortly after the boys exoneration and release from prison. 7 As Walker explains in Popular Justice: A History of American Criminal Justice, 2nd edition (1998), Politics dominated prison administration, just as it did the police.  Like police officers, prison guards got their jobs through political patronage and received no formal training. Only a few wardens had any advanced education. Turnover was extremely high. (90) 8 America is currently returning to this judicial strategy as more juveniles today are sentenced as adults and sent to adult prisons. 9 Guernsey gives no definite age for either Bunny or Lucian. Bunny, however, is still young enough to hold peoples hands and sit in their laps, and Lucian is old enough to attend school and help his father in the mill. Accepting the notion that seven is the age of reason, which Friedman suggests existed in American courts of laws (163), as well as in religious comm unities, I am assuming that Bunny is probably at least seven years old but not much older.
89 Despite her depiction of this beating, how ever, Guernsey takes care to avoid condemning the burgeoning pe nal system, instead identif ying Stephens as one bad employee whom Mr. Bruce fire s and whom the narrator identif ies as cruel (Guernsey 249) and totally unfit for the place (G uernsey 248). Moreover the narrator never addresses Stephens as mister, the title that the other male authority figures in the book receive, further suggesting that Guernsey does not consider him an official part of the legal community. Yet Guernsey also ta kes an additional step to uphold the authority of the law. When Will, Bunny s older brother, asks how t he innocent boys could have been convicted, Mr. Clifton, the minister, replies, They [p resumably the jurors] could only judge by the evidence before them, and t hey did not know the children as we do (Guernsey 233). This response squarely pl aces the burden of t he judgment on the evidence and not on an imperfect system that makes mistakes. Whereas Guernsey struggles to uphold the in tegrity of the courts and the prisons, Sheppard intimates that legal justice may be purchased. In Hester Powers Girlhood, which takes place in England, Isabella Fa lkstone, the victim of Hesters alleged burglaries and Hesters former best friend, seeks to buy Hester out of prison,10 suggesting that money can infl uence the legal system, even in very direct ways. Sir Huston, Isabellas father, refuses his daughters request, not because he finds it immoral or unethical, but becaus e he truly believes that Hester is guilty and, therefore, deserves to be incarcerated. (Isabella also be lieves that her friend is guilty, but she still wishes that Hester was not in prison, particu larly since Hester is deathly ill.) Sir Huston 10 Hester is apparently sixteen or seventeen years old at the time of her arrest and incarceration. Though her story takes place in England rather than America, she, like Guernseys Bunny and Lucian, is confined within a general prison, not an institution for juveniles.
90 tells his daughter, She is in the hands of the law, and it must take its course. She may be suffering, even ill; but it is only proper th at she should suffer (175). Hester dies in prison before her trial can occur and before her innocence is established, and, though Sheppard offers contradictory messages ab out justice and mercy throughout her novel, both Lady Falkstone and the rector absolve Isabella of guilt in the wrongful arrest and resultant death of her friend bec ause Hester did appear to be truly guilty at the time of Isabellas accusations. In a similar, though more lighthearted vein, Evisons Rainbow Gold also considers the flaws in the American legal system. For ex ample, when Mr. Hastings declares that it is enough that the jury found Mr Hamilton, his son-in-law, guilty of speculation with company funds, Ma responds, Mr. Hastings we all know that innocent men are often punished for crimes they never committed. Why may it not be so in this case? (Evison 217; italics in original). As Ma persuades Mr. Hastings that it is worth his while to investigate Mr. Hamiltons caseif only to win the love of his grandchildren, particularly Tonihe capitulates, agreeing, As you say, money can set the machinery of the law in motion (Evison 220). Using his vast resources, Mr. Hastings is able to hire an excellentand expensiveattorney who finds proof of Mr. Hamilt ons innocence and secures his release from prison. By so clear ly linking Mr. Hamiltons exoneration with Mr. Hastings financial support, Evison highligh ts the relationship between actual justice and money, also refusing to offer, as G uernsey, Sheppard, and Yonge do, extenuating circumstances that attempt to exonerate the legal system of blame in these cases of wrongful conviction.
91 In fact, in The Trial, the book that most clearly calls for an element of prison reform, even as it steadfastly defends t he integrity of the c ourts, the Mays and Leonard himself recognize his incarceration as a miscarriage of human justice, but this critique is tempered by their more fervent belief in his imprisonment as evidence of warranted divine justice, if not retr ibution. After all, Leonards te mper and his stubborn pride led him to Vintry Mills, the site of the murder and other corruptions. He had refused to live under the dominion of Henry, his older brother, and he had even hurled a rock at Henry once in a fit of rage. As Leonard tells Dr. Ma y in a discussion about his continued faith after his conviction, If I have not [lost fait h], it is her [Ethels] doing. In those happy days when we read Marmion, and could not belie ve that God would not always show the right, she showed me how we only see bi ts and scraps of His justice here, and it works round in the end! Nay, if I had only not done that thing to Henry, I should not be here now! It is right! It is right (Yonge 224). Thus, while Leonard is innocent of the mu rder for which he has been imprisoned, he clearly believes that, because of his other sins, especially his act of violence against his brother, his sentence is just. Dr. May and his oldest daughter Ethel support this belief, even as they suffer in spirit with Leonard, defend his character from others, and work to free him. They admire the strong and repentant man that this ordeal has made him. Before the trial, Dr. May declares triu mphantly, If it be so [if Leonard is convicted], it will be right; one will try to believe it good for him. Nay, theres pr oof enough in what it has done for him already. If you could only see him (Yonge 193). Moreover, the Mays, especially Ethel, harbor a belie f that Leonards suffering is preparing him for something greater, a belief which is vindicated when Leonard seeks to become a foreign
92 missionary after his release from prison, an occupation that Etheland Yonge consider to be the highest calling.11 Despite the happy ending for Leonard Ward, the prison systems in these works for children, regardless of t he stories settings, are clearly detrimental and damaging to many of the characters that they house, as well as to the characters families. Yonges Leonard, Evisons Mr. Hamilton, Twains Muff Potter, Nesbits Father, Guernseys Bunny and Lucian, and Sheppards He ster are all innocent of the crimes for which they are imprisoned. Two of the th ree incarcerated juveniles, Bunny and Hester, die as a result of their treatment in prison. The Eye of God Every-wheres Marcus is driven insane, and Evisons Mr. Hamilton and Ches ebros George Sandhurst are physically changed by their prison experience. Y onges Leonard Ward also appears to be a broken man when he leaves prison. Taken as a whole then, this collection of books from the Baldwin Library leaves little doubt about the horrors of incarceration and the injustices of the legal system. Yet in the ma jority of the works discussed, the sufferings of the characters are simply acknowledged and accepted, even embraced, as most of the authors find ways to uphold the status quo of the criminal justice system, shifting blame to individuals, circumstances, or the appearance of ev idence rather than critiquing the system t hat imparts the suffering that t he books so frequently and calmly present to readers. Intentionally Historic: Contemporary Wor ks of Historical Fiction about Prisons Though the desire of the authors of the cont emporary works of hi storical fiction either to uphold or to challenge the status quo is debatable, their characters sufferings 11 In fact, as Alethea Hayter reports in her biography Charlotte Yonge most of her [Yonges] profits from her books went to support missionary work, which to her was the essence of chivalry and romance ( 23).
93 behind bars or under sentence of transportati on are described much more fully than the sufferings of their counterparts in the books found in the Baldwin Library. The verdicts handed down in these contemporary novels are also more accurate, however harsh the sentences may seem. Only two characters are innocent of the crimes for which they are arrested: Daniel Linnehan in M.P. Barkers A Difficult Boy (2008) and Tom Tin, the protagonist of Ian Lawrences trilogy, The Convicts (2005), The Cannibals: The Curse of the Jolly Stone TrilogyBook II (2007), and The Castaways: The Curse of the Jolly Stone TrilogyBook III (2007). While the works discussed in this section focus less on the wrongfully convicted, they do address i ssues of juvenile crime more frequently. Daniel and Tom are both teenager s when they are arrested. The boys in Chris Carlton Browns Hoppergrass (2009) are also adolescents, and Molly in Karen Schwabachs A Pickpockets Tale (2008) is only ten years old.12 This greater focus on young protagonists not only complies with the current trend in publishing that argues that child and adolescent readers are most interested in reading abou t characters who are near their own ages, but it may also draw readers more fully into considerat ions of the prison conditions if they can more readily imagi ne themselves in the characters places. Whether the incarcerated characters introduced in these novels are adults, children, or adolescents, the books examine prison practices, like the separate system, from more varied perspective s than do the older works. T hey also describe several different types of penal institutions as we ll, including debtors prisons, the hulks, transportation ships, and juvenile facilities. Moreover, some of the books also explore a wider array of the negative effects of incarceration, whereas ot hers demonstrate the 12 Barkers Daniel and Schwabachs Molly are confined with a general population of inmates of all ages. Lawrences Tom and Browns Bowser are hel d within prisons that house only boys.
94 ways in which the prison system helps the convicts to establish better lives. Either way, none of the works of contemporar y historical fiction minimi zes the wretchedness of the prison experience. Certainly, the images of t he prisons that these books o ffer to young readers are far more frightening and menacing than the descriptions offered in their older counteparts. For example, in 1820s Englan d, when Lawrences Tom is e scorted into Newgate Prison at night to await his murder trial, he observes that the prison rang with the clank of iron and the shrieks of the insane. But it was even worse in daylight, when the putrid fog oozed through windows and air shafts. In the ex ercise yard the convicts trudged round and round. A man walked the long treadmill, his back bent as he stumbled forever uphill ( Convicts 58). Similarly, in Schwabachs The Pickpockets Tale which opens in England in 1730, Molly Abraham, another inmate of Newgate Prison, notes that the stench of rot and failure were as much a part of the prison walls as the stones themselves (13). And Inspector Copper field (aka Mr. Nottingham) from Avis The Traitors Gate (2007) succinctly describes most of the possible horrors awaiting an English criminal in 1849, declaring, Jail them. Set them to the treadmill.13 Put them in the hulks. Transport them. If nece ssary, hang them (96). Even Browns Hoppergrass, which takes place in the relative safety of the Belmont School for Boys in Virginia in 1969, a minimum security facility with screen mesh, dorm rooms, and house fathers, as 13 The treadmill, mentioned by both Avi and Lawrence, wa s a big, iron frame of steps around a revolving cylinder. Prisoners, both male and female in the early [nineteenth] century, tr udged up the steps in their own separate compartments on the wheel for up to six hours a day. It was like climbing a mountain for nothing (Duckworth 69). Though sometimes the labor of the treadmill was used for productive purposes, like pumping water or grinding wheat, its most common use was purely punitive (Priestly 125). Another routine, punitive practice that is mentioned by Avi is the crank, which was a wheel with a counting device fitted into a box of gravel which the prisoner had to turn for a given number of rotations; it was another useless activity which did nothing but move gravel in a box (Duckworth 69-70). Interestingly, while these prison activities are referenced in the no vels, they are never actually described.
95 well as isolation cells, offers a far scarier picture of Lorton, a ma ximum security facility for boys. At Lorton, [i]t was like animal cagesjust concrete and bars and barbed wire. Dark, too. They didnt waste much electricity on light (Brown 145). As bleak as these descriptions of the penal institutions are, t he images of debtors prisons, the hulks, and transportation seem in tended to horrify modern readers further, while also classifying these punishments as both more exotic and more contemptible through assurances that such practices no longer exist. Of course, debtors prisons were far safer than the hul ks or the cells and ships where people being transported were held since they did not house actual law breakers. Indeed, when Avis John Huffam first enters Whitecross Street Prison to visit his father, whose massive debts have driven his family from their home and led to the sale of all of their belongings, as well as to public ridicule, John notes, It was not what I expected. Here was a large, spacious courtyard in which perhaps seventy peoplemen, women, and childrenwere milling about in what appeared to be an aimless fash ion. It could have been a public London promenade. There were fair numbers of patently poor people, but there were others quite well dressed, including one or two gentlemen in top hats. People were sauntering alone or in groups, sitting, chatting, reading. At the far back wallwhere there were no windowsa few men were even hitting a ball against the brick with small racquets. Among all these peopleI presumed them to be prisonersa number of guards mingled. ( Traitors 203) Yet as tolerable as this scene in the prison courtyard seems, particularly in comparison to scenes depicted in other prison environmen ts, John adds, It was oddly calm, a world unto itself. And yet, as I looked further, there was barely a smile to be seen. Rather, a sullen gloom prevailed, an aimless mood th at suggested not so much boredom as stagnation ( Traitors 206). This sense of quiet despair can also ensnare the debtors family members, particularly those who resi de within the prisons alongside the debtors,
96 like Johns mother and sist er, but other family mem bers as well, like John and Lawrences Tom, who choose to live out side of the prison gates and who must desperately search for funds to free their families. As hopelessly grim as the debtor s situation appears in both The Traitors Gate and The Convicts, the hulks, with their more stru ctured prison regime and their outbreaks of violence, are portrayed in Lawrences The Convicts and The Castaways as far more threatening places. After Tom is wrongfully convicted of murderhis twin brother, from whom he was s eparated at birth, actually committed the crimeand is sentenced to be transported to Australia for seven years, he is sent to the Lachesis ,14 a prison ship for boys, to awai t transportation. But, as Jean nie Duckworth explains in Fagins Children: Criminal Ch ildren in Victorian England (2002), the hulks were intended for prisoners awaiting tr ansportation, or those unfit to go; but many of those sentenced never proceeded any further. When Australia wa s opened up as a transport destination, due to the immens e administration difficulties fleets could only be organised about once a year, so prisoners had to wait, some times for years, for a suitable ship, if they went at all (82). And the hulks were not desirable plac es to remain indefinitely. Upon approaching the hulk for the first time, Tom says, A heavy chain appeared, then others, wit h no beginnings or endings to any of them. They arched thr ough the fog like strands of gigantic cobwebs, as though their only purpose was to lash the mist in place. Then a shape formed ahead, a great woode n wall. For a foot above the water it was plastered with mussels and barnacles, with weeds that trailed in the river like eels swimming by. Plank upon plank it rose, foreve r, it seemed, to a top that I couldnt see. There were tiny square windows, closely barred, each 14 In The Convicts Authors Note, Lawrence reports, I combined three hulks [ Euryalus Bellerophon and Defence ] into one [the fictional Lachesis ], hoping to find at least a fair representation of conditions for convict boys (194). Since many of the details ab out the hulks that he includes are also mentioned in Jeannie Duckworths Fagins Children: Criminal Children in Victorian England (2002), his representation appears both fair and accurate.
97 fitted with a wooden lid hinged at the top. A face was at one, and it scared me to see it. A ghost could have been no whiter. From each window came sounds of creaks and groans and coughs. From each poured a foul stench, a feeling of sadness and despair. The guard beside me covered his face with his hand, and for a moment there was pity in his eyes. ( Convicts 76) Once aboard the prison ship, Tom finds lif e on the hulk to be as miserable as his first glimpse of it intimated. The impr isoned boys are weighed down with twelve pound chains on both ankles and with additi onal chains around their waists (Convicts 78-79) while they walk in circles on the deck, sleep in hammocks, and are frequently beaten and caned. They spend hours at menial manual labor, either stitching shirts or wash[ing] the same bit of wood over and over ( Convicts 88). And, when the days mind-numbing horrors are over the nightly terrorizations of younger and weaker boys by older and stronger boys begins. Not surp risingly, Tom is desperate to escape the hulk, but his failed escape attempt only earns him and his accomplices guaranteed spots on the next ship heading to Austra lia, a sentence deemed even harsher than serving out ones time in the hulks. Indeed, transportation, a British p unishment from the 1600s to 1857 ( Convicts 194), was perceived as even worse than a deat h sentence by many criminals. As Duckworth reports, In an effort to cont rol the rampant crime rate, the British government elected to transport its felons o ut of sight and out of mind to the new colony on the other side of the world from wh ich few would ever return (113). The new colony to which Duckworth was referring wa s, of course, Australia, where Lawrences Tom and the father of Avis Sary the Sneak ar e sent, but earlier it could also have been the British holdings in North America.15 In Schwabachs The Pickpockets Tale, Molly is 15 Schwabach reports in How Much of This Story Is True? that [a] bout fifty thousand English criminals came to the American colonies as unwilling immigrants. (Thats almost five hundred times the number of
98 sentenced to seven years transportation in Virg inia after she is convicted of stealing a handkerchief. (Instead of going to Virginia, she is sold as an indentured servant in New York and is then forced to remain in serv ice until she is twenty-one years of agefour years longer than her original sentence of transportati on). Mollys journey to the American colonies in 1730 on a ship with other convicted men, women, and children, as well as a few voluntary indentured servants, is far more pleasan t than her time in Newgate Prison, for even though she is forc ed to sleep in the hold of the ship, the women and girls werent chained, and were allowed up on deck whenev er they wanted (Schwabach 23-24). For Toms journey to New South Wales, Australia, approximately a century later, however, the sh ip was still a traveling prison, steaming hot or cold as frost. It stank of sweat and waste, and s eethed with a simmering violence, like a cage overfilled with wild beasts ( Cannibals 14). Yet regardless of thei r traveling conditions, both Molly and Tom face danger on their ships because [s]ome English convict ships were probably as deadly as slave ships. Al though nobody knows the exact numbers, its estimated that starvation and disease killed as many as 30 percent of the convicts on the ships (Schwabach 216). Perhaps even wors e, Molly and Tom know that they must confront the unknown once they reach their respective dest inations, the factor that made the sentence of transpor tation truly terrifying. For many of the criminal characters in England who are not transportedor at least are awaiting transportationthe s eparate system appears to be enforced far less frequently and far less rigidly in the works of c ontemporary historical fiction than it is in passengers on the Mayflower .) (216). Duckworth also notes, Dur ing the eighty-year period of convict transport around 160,000 men, women and children were shipped in bondage to Australia, although, due to gaps in the records, the exact number will never be known (114).
99 the older books, if it is enf orced at all. This softening of the separate system, both in describing its practices and it s effects, suggests that the authors (and presumably the public) of the Victorian era were more consumed than m odern writers and readers are with this particular prison reform, probably because its use prompted such spirited public debates at the time Admittedly, in Avis The Traitors Gate when Sary the Sneak informs John of the fate that aw aits her in prison if she is arrested as a traitor, she tells him that the officials will [s]ay I cant talk to anyone. Anyone (338; italics in original). Yet, in all of the other works, the prisoners talk, socialize, and interact much of the time as long as they are in the general population. When Montmorency, the title character of Eleanor Updales Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? (2005) is in an English prison in the 1870s,16 the separate system is preserved in the chapel, where each man sat in a tiny cubicle of his own, making it impossible for the prisoners to talk to eac h other (35), but Mont morency shares his celland much conversationwith two other inmates. Of course, as the narrator reveals, the authorities had orig inally intended that convicts should be kept apart at all times, so that they could not corrupt one another further, but crim e was rising faster than new prisons could be built, and soon ther e were two, and then three, to a cell (Updale 17). Indeed, because of the rising crime rates and t he great expense of building a prison designed in accordance with the m odel of the separate system and its many individual cells, the silence system em erged, in which prisoners lived and worked together but communication by word, gesture or sign was prohibited (Duckworth 65). 16 Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? is the first book in a series. The other three books in the series (so far) are Montmorency on the Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer? (2006), Montmorency and the Assassins (2007), and Montmorencys Revenge (2008). In these later works, Montmorencys criminal skills are put to good use, and Montmorency does not return to prison, although lawbreakers frequently appear and other characters are incarcerated.
100 The prison officials and guards on the hulk in Lawrences The Convicts and The Castaways attempt to enforce the silence sy stem, but, not surprisingly, the boys manage to communicate frequently, either be hind the guards backs or at night when they are left largely unsupervised.17 Yet the separate system remains in place as an additional and extreme punishment for those who break the prisons most important rules (not unlike solitary confinement in contemporary prisons). For example, after Tom and his accomplices are returned to the hulk following t heir failed escape attempt, they are sent to the black hole, where Tom recalls, I could neither stretch out on the floor nor st and beneath the ceiling. I had to curl like a bug, or crook myself agai nst the curve of the wall. There was no day and no night, nothing but an ever-ending darkne ss. Even the quaver of the ships bell didnt reach me down ther e. Time meant nothing ( Convicts 157), although it later turns out that the boys were kept in the dark hole (separately) fo r eleven days. Similarly, in Browns Hoppergrass, which takes place over a centur y later in America, Bowser and Nose are both put in lockdown after they def y prison authorities. As Bowser explains, Lockdown was where they put you if you s houldnt or couldnt be around the other boys for any reason. Sometimes a hardrock woul d end up there on his way to Lorton, the maximum security facility. Sometimes theyd put a boy with the flu in there (Brown 111). Because lockdown functioned as a sick room as well as a site for punishment, it does not seem nearly as intimidating as t he black hole, but, after spending several days there, Bowser laments, I was sick of being in a cage. I could feel confinement in my 17 Duckworth comments on the use of the silence syst em aboard the hulks: The authorities declared that in these messes [on the hulks] only rational conversation was permitted, but it was clear that forty to fifty men could not be crammed into one side of a ships deck and swing elbow to elbow in hammocks at night without finding ample opportunity for free conversation (82).
101 chest like a hand that could squeeze my heart until it burst (Brown 198). Thus, while several books from the Baldwin Library focus on the ghastliness of the separate system, the contemporary historical novels minimize both its use and its effects when it is used, usually as an added punishment. Yet interestingly enough, some of the modern books portrayals of the convicts socialization would have provid ed Victorian reformers who we re in favor of the separate system with strong examples of the dangers of prisoner interaction. For example, as Mr. Mendez and Mr. Lopez talk with Molly in Newgate Prison, Molly noted with interest that Mrs. Wilkes was going through the two gentle mens pockets (Schwabach 11), stealing in prison just as she steals in New York after she is transported. Also in Newgate Prison, Tom is housed with boys who spent hours arranged in a circle, picking each others pockets, applauding the quickest hands ( Convicts 58). Clearly, it is no wonder that James Greenwood, a Britis h investigative journalist in the second half of the 1800s, wrote that the more they [children] are imprisoned the more is their dishonesty strengthened (Duckworth 21). Likewise, Up dales Montmorency, an adult who has spent his entire life as a thief, hatches his lar gest criminal scheme in prison, the one that is intendedand ultimately doestransform him into a gentleman. Reflecting upon the numerous difficulties of his complicated plan to enter the homes of the wealthy via Londons underground sewage system and burg le them, Montmorency concludes, Between them, the thieves, fraudsters, and degenerates with whom he shared his days should have all the information he needed to carry out his new enterprise. They werent all masters of their artafter all, theyd all been caughtbut some of them were very experienced and it would be a shame to let t heir talents go to waste (Updale 16). Such
102 sharing of criminal expertise and exposure to new types of illegal behavior were primary reasons that the Victorian supporters of the separate system cited when advocating for this system of isolation. But the panopticism that, along with isolat ion, was an inveterate part of the separate system does not appear in the prisons of the contemporary works of historical fiction at all. The criminals in Paul Bajorias The Printers Devil (2005) invoke the threat of panopticism in the notes that they leave for one another as they all try to figure out who among them is hiding a pr iceless treasure. In the bosun s note to two rival thieves, he writes, The law is watching the 3 frends [a pub] & I [drawing of an eyeball] am wachin yu (Bajoria 67). In tu rn, he receives a note, info rming him that eys ar watchin you evry niht. Eys ar watchin you now (B ajoria 116), and Mog does find a hole in the wall through which the bosuns every move is being observed. While these criminals, some of whom may have experienced element s of the Panopticon in English prisons, turn this punitive strategy to their own advantage, John mo st clearly internalizes the scrutiny of the law in Avis The Traitors Gate Though he is innocent of any wrongdoing, John realizes, Police stations had been of little consequence to mepreviously. Given my new world of worries, including my talk with Inspector Copperfield, the sight [of a police station] made me uneasy. It was al most as if, even as I looked at it, it was looking at me and with none too favorable an eye ( Traitors 129; italics in original). John may now feel that he is under the constant surve illance of the law, but none of the inmates in the contemporary historical novels shares his concerns, particularly since most of them are able to escape the notice of the law, as represented by the prison guards, whenever necessary.
103 Though the inmates may have escaped the dire feelings invoked by panopticism, they certainly do not escape many other negative effects of incarceration, which the contemporary works of historic al fiction delve into with c onsiderable detail. Like the older texts, Lawrences The Convicts and The Castaways and Barkers A Difficult Boy focus on the ill effects of prison life on t he convicts physical and mental health. When Lawrences Tom and the other boys with whom he was transported return to England illegally following their escape from the ship that took them to Australia and are subsequently returned to the hulk, one of their company, Boggis, begins to decline in captivity, although he had endured the chains, ill treatment, and prison regime on the hulk in the past. Tom explains why Boggis is more readily def eated by his current stint in prison, saying, Boggis had seen the wide world [during their transportation, escape, and return]. He was like Oten Acres and all the farm boys whowithout their huge horizonswere always the first to waste away in the hulk ( Castaways 185). And Oten Acres, along with other boys from rural Engl and and a few lads from the cities, pass away in The Convicts, seemingly as much from the di sheartening effects of confinement as from the lack of food and physical maltreatment. Similarly, when Barkers Dani el returns from a few days in the jail of Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1839, his eyes were red and teary. He rubbed his face with his sleeve and shook his head. Its the sun. It hurts me eyes. It was so awful dark in that cell, he said in an unsteady voice (Barker 258). Ethan, Daniels younger friend and fellow indentured servant, expects Daniel to be overjoyed at havi ng been exonerated of the crime of robbing Mr. Lyman, their cruel master who routinely cheats his fellow townspeople, and at the prospec t of Mr. Lymans illegal a ccounting activities being
104 exposed. But Daniel, too broken to rejoice in his change of fortune, is initially wary of the attempts of Ethans father and Silas Lyman to help him. As the narrator points out, Daniel looked sad and weary and old, as though hed been gone for years instead of days. Though the bruises Mr. Lyman had given him were beginning to fade to green,18 he seemed to have one or two new ones, and his face looked a sickly gray where it wasnt bruised. When they reached the house, he needed Silass help to get out of the carriage (Barker 283). While Barker and Lawrence both describe the physical and psychological damage that imprisonment can cause, other harmful consequences of incarceration are also depicted in the works of contem porary historical fiction, consequences that are rarely addressed in the older works. One such c onsequence is institutionalization, in which inmates become so acclimated to the routine of prison life and their places within the prison society that they cannot adjust to life on the other side of the prison walls, at least not without a struggle. Even Updales Montmorency, who had a fully formed, albeit illegal, plan for his post-prison life, discovers that he was suddenly unc ertain of what to do when the prison doors thundered shut behind him, and the routines of his life were taken away (44). Montmorency overcomes his feelings of disorientation at life on the outside, but Weedle, one of Toms adolescent prison mates who accompanies him across the Pacific Ocean twice, decides that he does not even want to try leaving the hulk again. When Tom informs him that he has successfully obtained pardons for four of the boys, including Weedle and himself, Weed le declares, Tom, I dont want no 18 Mr. Lyman beats Daniel severely before Daniel is taken into custody, and the constable who arrests Daniel does not dispute Mr. Lymans claim that he and Daniel fought, resulting in the bruises and blood on Daniels body, even if the constable does not fully believe it (Barker 258).
105 pardon,  Im a proper nob [prison bully] now.19 If they send me to Australia, Ill be a holy terror there. I think I was meant to be a nob, Tom, like you was meant to be a sailor. Promise youll stop my pardon if you can ( Castaways 183). Tom eventually tears up Weedles pardon, so that Weedle can devot e himself to a life of terrorizing other inmates, showing how the prison environmen t designed to punish Weedle for his petty crimes actually leads him to realize that the hulk is a place in which he can achieve position and power. And, if Weedle, a boy who triumphs over cannibals, shipwrecks, and snakes, feels like he cannot find a more appealing future outside of prison rather than in it, how many of the other convicts can? Besides fighting against the institutionaliz ing effects of prison, many released inmates have to contend with others prejudice and fear too. As Schwabachs Molly tries to settle into her life as an indentured servant in New York, Mrs. Grip constantly needles her, criticizing her and the Bells, the people who purchased Molly, and gossiping loudly about them at every turn. Even in the synagogue, Mrs. Grip tells an attentive group, I cant understand why the Bells would do ittake in a common criminal from the London streets, a convict whos done who-knows-wh at nasty crimes, and bring her into the house to mingle with their own children (Sch wabach 93). She also gripes about the practice of transportation itself, saying, I think its a wicked shame that those judges keep dumping the scum of the London streets on His Majestys law-abiding subjects in America (Schwabach 61). Many of Molly s neighbors listen to Mrs. Grip and, consequently, keep their distance from Molly, but the Bells attempt to protect Molly from 19 According to Duckworth, [T]he more spirited lads [on the hulks] turned their attention to bullying their colleagues. It appears that bullying was incessant and organised; directed and encouraged by a group of boys who were known as the Nobs (85).
106 Mrs. Grips influence, at least inside their own home. Unlike Molly, Updales Montmorency quickly escapes the public label of criminal by hiding his former identity. But, as he leaves the prison, the guards, who have singled him out for extra abuse throughout his prison term because they resent the attention that he has received as Dr. Fawcetts medical test subject, confiscate the few coins and the letter that Dr. Fawcett left for him, so determined are they to pr event him from having any advantages when he leaves prison. Just as Montmorencys farewell package is ripped from his hands by a few cruel guards, other instances of legal officials cruelty and corruption can been witnessed in the works of contemporary historical fiction. In Bajorias The Printers Devil the customs officer overlooks thievery on the London do cks when he is bribed to do so, and Mr. Glibstaff, an employee of the City Magistrates, uses his position in the courts to his own financial advantage. Mog, the printers devil (or apprentice), takes care to avoid Mr. Glibstaff whenever possible since [p]eople w ho didnt do as he told themor, more usually, didnt pay him whatever money he f ancied charging in return for leaving them alonetended to find themselves summoned before the Magistrates and accused of some dreamt-up offense, for which they usually ended up paying out even more money in fines (Bajoria 186). Captain Mattock, the captain of the ship that transports Molly to America in The Pickpockets Tale, is also willing to overlook a few legal technicalities in exchange for a greater profit on his human car go, lying to potential customers about the ships passengers being convicts and neglecting to inform the prisoners that they can refuse two people who propose to buy their labor (Schwabach 44-45). And Tom learns that the wheels of justice can be greased by influence, as well as money, in The
107 Castaways when he blackmails Mr. Goodfellow, a corrupt yet influential man whom he holds responsible for his familys misfort unes, into getting four pardons for himself and his friends from the prime mi nister. Mr. Goodfellow agrees, acknowledging, Yes, I can pull strings, Tom. Very well, youll get your pardons ( Castaways 152). Each of the works mentioned in the previous paragraph highlights the corruption of an individual employed by or connected with the legal system, but Browns Hoppergrass offers the largest example of corruption within a prison. The conspiracy of silence and self-protection that shrouds Virginias Be lmont School for Boys is first revealed when one of the guards, Shorty Nub, hits No se, an inmate, with a baseball bat and knocks him unconscious, and Mr. Ball, the warden, backs the Nubs untrue account of having first been attacked by Nose, even though Mr. Ball witnessed the entire incident himself (Brown 73-74). Shorty Nub then sets up Nose to take the fall for the death of another inmate, one who died as a result of the Nubs negligence in overseeing the boys work crew. Nose is placed in lockdown to await transfer to Lorton, t he maximum security juvenile prison. Bowser tries to convince numerous prison employees of the truth, but many of the adults refuse to listen to Bo wsers version of w hat happened. Finally, with a little help from the schools custodian and librarian, Bowser is able to uncover Shorty Nubs whereabouts at the time of the boys death, also exposi ng the fact that Shorty Nub and two other prison employees we re drugging, kidnapping, raping, and photographing female inmates from the nearby Barnet School for Girls. After these atrocious crimes come to light, Mr. Ball th reatens Bowser and still refuses to return Nose to the general population, all in an a ttempt to cover up his knowledge of Shorty Nubs illegal activities.
108 Clearly, the corruption runs to the very highest offices of the Belmont School for Boys, suggesting that the instit ution itself is crooked, but other legal officials with even more authority than Mr. Ball ultimately restore order, thereby preserving the larger integrity of the crim inal justice system. Mr. Wineburg, the Commonwealth of Virginias Attorney, acting on the advice of a local poli ce officer, Deputy Sa sser, intervenes at Belmont, sending Nose and Bowser to the Ju venile Diagnostic Center to obtain their statements and to protect t hem. Mr. Wineburg also grants Deputy Sasser permission to question Mr. Ball about his running of Belmon t, an action that will presumably land him in prison along with the other employees who were charged in the sex ring scandal. While the misconduct of Mr. Ball and other employees at the Belmont School for Boys shows that the exercise of the law can be gro ssly distorted, A Difficult Boy addresses the limitations, rather than the corruptions, of the law. After Ethan and Daniel uncover Mr. Lymans falsified le dgers, which were used to cheat Daniel out of his family land, force both Daniel and Ethan into i ndentured servitude, and swindle countless others, Mr. Lymans son, S ilas, and Ethans father, Mr. R oot, discuss the actions that they should take against Mr. Lyman. Mr. Root wants to see Mr. Lyman publicly tried and imprisoned, but Silas disagrees, arguing, The law may see him locked up, perhaps impoverished as well, but it probably won't see anybody paid back,  If hes prosecuted, hell fight until he exhausts his appeals. Court co sts and lawyers fees will whittle away his fortune until theres hardly anything left to repay the people hes cheated. [.] If you let me handle things myself, I can use the income from the store and the farm, sell some l and, perhaps, or even the house, to return what hes taken. It will take some time, but I swear to you Ill go over every page of those books and see that every pennys repaid, with interest and damages. The law cant promise you that. Which would you prefer, Mr. Root, to see him jailed or to see restitution paid to his victims? He spread his hands wide. The law may not have room for both. (Barker 285-286)
109 At first glance, it may appear that Silas would merely like to protect his father from public disgrace and prison, but, as there is no love lost between father and son, Silass concern about his fathers victims and thei r best interests is genuine. Even Daniel, the person who suffered the most from Mr. Lymans deceptions, agrees that he would rather have compensation from Mr. Lymans bank accounts than retribution from the law. Though Mr. Lyman escapes the formal notice of the law, the courts and prisons exact harsh retribution from many of t he characters discussed in this section, particularly those who are innocent or who are convicted of petty crimes. But, like Yonges older work, The Trial: More Links of the Daisy Chain Lawrences trilogy and Schwabachs The Pickpockets Tale insist that their main characters lives are actually improved by their prison sentences. Tom too, mistakenly believing that he killed a blind man near the river, is convin ced that his wrongful conviction for murdering a different man is ultimately just ( Convicts 64) and that the time that he spends in captivity transforms him into a better per son, a person who could make his father proud. Indeed, when he is reunited with his father, the capt ain of the ship that transports him to Australia, he is frustrated because his father only notices the physical consequences of Toms imprisonment, not the fact that he is stronger on the inside because of it ( Cannibals 1). Later, after his return to England, Tom articulates the changes that he sees in himself more clearly, specifying, Benevolence was exactly what Id learned in my travels. Gone was the selfish, coddled boy, and in his place was one who truly cared for the welfare of others ( Castaways 202).
110 Transportation also teaches Molly that she cared [cares] about other people (Schwabach 210), something that she is not able to do in London[i]n Mollys London anyway[which was] an all-out fight for survival in which you couldnt be bothered to think about other people (Schwabach 210). Unlike Tom, Molly initially resents her time in prison and her sentence of transportation, but she slowly a cclimates to her new life as the Bells indentured servant in New York, eventually becoming ashamed of having been a thief and having spent time in prison. She realizes that [o]f course David [Bell] and everybody else knew shed been in Newgate, but she didnt feel like talking about it when they were all looking at her (Schwaba ch 152). Instead of looking for opportunities to steal or to stow away to London, she begins to welcome the stab ility of her new life away from the slums, the crim e, and the poverty until [i]t o ccurred [occurs] to Molly that she was [is] actually freer than she had been before she belonged to the Bells (Schwabach 212). Such a statement implies that her punishmenttransportation across the ocean for petty theftis not only fa ir but actually m agnanimous, but, though transportation works out well for the fictional Mo lly, not all real transported convicts were so fortunate. Indeed, most of the fictional convicts in t he works of contemporar y historical fiction are not so fortunate. These historical nov els provide much more nuanced accounts of the prisoners sufferings, as well as more instances of corrupti on, than do the older historical works from the Bald win Library. Yet, while the novels discussed in this section make fewer direct statements absolving the legal system of guilt than the Baldwin books do, all of the historical novels tend to plac e the blame on corrupt individuals within the system rather than upon defects in t he system itself. Even in Browns Hoppergrass the
111 only novel that explores a widespread case of prison corruption, other officials more highly placed within the legal syst em restore the integr ity of the institut ion. Likewise, the false arrest of Daniel in A Difficult Boy and the wrongful conviction of Tom in The Convicts can be attributed to strong circumstantial evid ence rather than to faulty judicial proceedings. Daniel did break into Mr. Lyma ns desk to search for evidence of Mr. Lymans fraud, and the murder t hat Tom was convicted of was actually perpetrated by his identical twin brother, of whose ve ry existence Tom was unaware. Though the contemporary historical novels join their olde r counterparts in their general refusal to implicate the legal system as a whole in any wrongdoing, these modern novels differ from several of the older ones, most notably Yonges The Trial by not advocating for any specific prison reform at all. Instead, t he contemporary works of historical fiction focus chiefly on the seeming injustices and brut alities of a bygone era, but their use of a distant time and/or place allows their stor ies to be viewed as either progressive or conservative, depending on how the genre of historical fiction is understood. Reaching Back to Go Beyond: Can Hist orical Fiction Promote Contemporar y Prison Reform? As previously noted, Victorian Englan d is a popular setting for childrens books about prisons, both for older and especially for more contemporary works of historical fiction, because its prison system was mo re evolved and more uniform than the American penal system of this era, leading to more active public debates about prison conditions and reforms and to more scholarly and historical writings. Additionally, many of the contemporary childrens historical novels discussed in this chapter appear to have been greatly influenced by the works of Charles Dickens, the great author of Victorian England who often explored issues of legal justice in his writing. Avis The Traitors Gate
112 is an acknowledged homage to Dickens, with Avis story occurring in 1849, the same year in which Dickenss David Copperfield appeared in serialized installations. Not only are many of Avis characters reading the se rials throughout the novel, but several of the characters names are drawn from Dickenss works, like Inspector Copperfield and Mr. Magwitch, or from Dickens himself, w hose two middle names, John Huffam, become the name of Avis protagonist. The other cont emporary authors who set their stories in Victorian England do not tie t heir works so tightly to Dickens, but they nevertheless preserve a Dickensian influence in their use of eccentric c haracters, remarkable coincidences that unite characters and plot s, and motifs of a helpless child pitted against a cold and indifferent world, not to mention prison settings.20 The shadow of one of Dickenss most well known characters, Fagin, the den leader of a pack of child thieves in Oliver Twist (1838),21 also stretches across Lawrences The Convicts and Schwabachs The Pickpockets Tale where, respectively, the Darkey and Mink oversee gangs of child thieves and pickpockets. Important as are Dickenss literary in fluence and access to more historical sources, the choice of so many contemporary writers of historical fiction to locate the legal action of their stories in Victorian England can probably be attributed to the greater distance of this setting from todays readers, particularly Am erican readers. Of course, the use of distance when introdu cing sensitive subjects to young readers is hardly new, 20 Nowadays, we are accustomed to prisons being depict ed in books, films, television shows, music, and video games, but, as Duckworth points out, Dickenss visits to prisons gave him a rare insight into the conditions and affairs of the criminal classes, of which the middle-class reading public of the time would have had very little knowledge. The only people who would have known about crime and punishment were those who were involved in itthe legal clas ses and the lower classes (58-59). Dickenss novels helped pave the way for the multitudes of media port rayals of the legal system that we have today. 21 Interestingly, [t]he character of Fagin, in Oliver Twist was probably based on the famous Jewish fence, Isaac (Ikey) Solomon, whose methods of employing and training boy pickpockets were the standard practice and remained so for several decades (Duckworth 25).
113 nor is the practice confined to the genre of historical fiction. Indeed, The Prisoner and the Peach, Rosa, or the Two Castles and The Eye of God Every-where, stories from the Baldwin Library that can now be read as historical fiction but were once contemporary tales, are respectively set in Italy, an imaginary kingdom, and an unspecified location. And other older works, though written by Am erican authors and/or produced by American publishers, are set in England, as are most of the contemporary works discussed. Yet despite the recurrent use of the distancing effect across time and genres, its presence in works w here sensitive and potentially vola tile topics, like prisons, class, and race, are included can lead readers, especially young readers, to consider these issues, however interesting, as part of a remote past that has little relevance to todays world, and many readers revel in this seeming disconnection from modern life. As Margaret Atwood observes, Some may say that the past is safer.With the past, at least we know what happenedThe Titanic may be sinking, but were not on it. Watching it subside, we are diverted for a short time from the leaking lifeboat we are actually in right now (qtd in Brown and S t. Clair 52). Because of their very distance from the readers own time and/ or place, works of historical fiction can seem much safer, even escapist. But this removal also allows the writers to tackle issues that are too controversial to address easily in contemporary settings, particularly when confronted with a child or adol escent audience and, worse, the adults who monitor childrens reading materials. Despite or perhaps because of their fo cus on the past, historical novels can disclose important information about contempor ary times as well. Brown and St. Clair point out that, as much as readers might lear n about the past from historical fiction, the
114 genre also tells us much about the period in which the fiction was written, revealing writers concerns about and attitudes towards t he cultural tensions of their own times (14).22 This idea of this two-pronged revelati on may offer another reason for why so many contemporary historical novels about prisons are set in Victorian England, a time, not unlike our own, in which the pris on population has grown exponentially and concerns about prison conditions, corrupti on, and criminal justice reform have become widespread and often divisive. Addressing thes e issues in a remote setting draws far less ire, permitting readers to approach the issues with more emotional, as well as historical, distance, even as the authors ma y hope that learning about prison conditions and reforms in the past may moti vate their readers to take an interest in these topics both in the present and in the future. In addition to suggesting similarities betw een the challenges facing the criminal justice system in Victorian England and cont emporary America, the setting of Victorian England also allows for a greater focus on the ways in which socioeconomic class influences the criminal justice system and the resultant treatment that different individuals may receive within it. In Amer ican works about the legal system, both those set in the past and in the present, the issue of class is often secondary to the issue of race (or gender). Indeed, iss ues of class, though often present, are rarely discussed in 22 The notion that historical fiction can tell readers as much, if not more, about the era in which it was written rather than the period in which it was set has become a sensitive issue in the study of childrens historical fiction. In her well-known essay, Writing Backward: Modern Models in Historical Fiction, Anne Scott MacLeod criticizes the current tendency of many historical childrens novels to endorse contemporary values, particularly about gender roles, rather than the values that would be more in keeping with the novels time perio ds. She states, [M]any narratives play to modern sensibilities. Their protagonists experience thei r own societies as though they were time-travelers, noting racism, sexism, religious bigotry, and outmoded beliefs as outsides, not as people of and in their own cultures (MacLeod np). While MacLeod finds these insertions of modern attitudes in historical works both offensive and untruthful, Brown and St. Clair appear to accept that hi storical fiction writers inevitably insert into their narratives contemporary concerns that may resonate widely for their readers but were mostly ignored during the era of the narrative (121).
115 childrens and young adult literature as a whole or in scholarly criticism of the field. As Ian Wojcik-Andrews remarks, The absence of class analysis [in childrens literature] has nothing to do with class being a settled i ssue. Quite the contrary. Perhaps it is too unsettling (120; italics in original). In c ontemporary historical novels set in Victorian England, however, class distinctions are more readily and obviously drawn, both because of the remote setting itself and bec ause of the perceived minimum of racial diversity in this setting. England, as Vale rie Krips points out, has a culture peculiarly formed by ideas of class, modern and ancie nt. The English, unlike many of their European cousins, have retained their monarchy and, along with it, a substantial hierarchical class system supported by institutional frameworks (196). On the other hand, [o]ne of the United States most cherished myths is that we live in a classless society (Brown and St. Clair 105), so class issues are presented more strongly in the historical novels that occur in England rather than America. As a whole, the older historical novels c ontain more explicit references to class than do their contemporary counterparts. Hester Powers Girlhood which takes place in England, is by far the most classist work wit h multiple warnings given to both Hester and Isabella about keep[ing] in their proper places (Sheppard 17) and with an implication that Hester, the daughter of laborers, would nev er have fallen afoul of the law if she had not erred (Sheppard 55) in making a wealthy and nobly born friend. But other older works, even those set in Americ a, contain elements of class bias too, including Twains The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Guernseys The Silver Cup and Evisons Rainbow Gold ( The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Silver Cup are also the only two older books discussed that include non-white characters, and their
116 portrayals of Injun Joe, Bunny, and Will, all Native Americans, contain racial stereotypesat least by current standards). In the contemporary works of historical fiction, class remains a much more central issue in the novels set in England, although cl assism lurks in the two novels that take place entirely in America too. But a great er emphasis is placed on racial and ethnic differences in these two works. Because America is hardly as free fr om class strictures as it frequently purports to be, authors and audiences alike may find it easier to consider class distinctions in historical works se t in England, particularly when the books are about institutions, like prisons, that have politic ally and socially sensitive connections to class, as well as to race and gender.23 Class differences in the contemporary novels set in Victorian England are announced in the usual waystitles, speech patte rns and dialects, education, specific knowledge bases, deportment, material possessions, property, and servantsbut money is the most important indicator of class within prisons. Indeed, because there tended to be one law for the rich and another for the poor (D uckworth 42), readers do not meet any wealthy English convicts. Moreover, Avis Mr. Huffam and Updales Montmorency are the only pris oners who are concerned with maintaining or attaining a certain class status (one that is backed by considerable financial resources but that also encompasses the mannerisms and cultural background of a gentlem an). Most of the other convicts commit crimes solely in order to survive, and all of the inmates, including Mr. Huffam and Montmorency, are destitute at the time of t heir incarceration. 23 Gender frequently plays a role in the criminal justice system and especially in peoples images of criminals, but it does not strike me as a significant factor in the works of historical fiction about prisons since both male and female criminals and prisoners ar e featured in these storie s. Gender representation among inmates are discussed in more detail in Chapters Two and Four.
117 Nevertheless, several of the prisoners are charged fo r the privilege of being incarcerated or are offered ex tra privileges for a fee. As the bailiff explains before Mr. Huffam enters debtors prison, The costs enc umbered by Mr. Huffam in prison shall be four shillings a week. That is, of course, on the paupers side. Mr. Huffam has the option of paying for a great variety of genteel comf ortslodging, food, et cetera, et cetera, as set forth by the warden ( Traitors 190). Though Mr. Huffam is unconcerned about these additional expenses and is anxious to estab lish himself as genteel, his son, John, is greatly troubled about accumulating more debts. Approximately a century before the Victorian era, Schwabachs Molly also worries about the expenses that she may incur in Newgate Prison, where she awaits first her trial and then transportation. Molly passes out at her sentencing and awakes inside th e prison, where she realizes, [s]omeone must have carried her here. A pr isoner or a bailiff? Would s he have to pay them for it? You had to pay for everything in Newgate: y our food, your cell, everything. Even your chainsif you could pay to have your chains removed, the turnkeys took them off. Otherwise they left them on (Schwabach 8) Prisoners aboard Mollys convict ship have the option of buying additional rations and better accommodations as well. In far less direct ways, class plays a role in Barkers A Difficult Boy and Browns Hoppergrass the two contemporary wor ks of historical fiction set in America, but concerns about racial and ethnic prejudices overshadow class concerns in these stories.24 Barkers Ethan and Daniel are both poor indentured servants, but Daniel is Irish, so, while Ethan receives gentler treat ment and is permitted to play with the other 24 Racial concerns are also central to the most well known series of historical fiction about the legal system, Mildred D. Taylors Logan Family saga. Ev en though multiple characters in this series are arrested (and one is tried and executed), Taylor never ta kes readers farther into a prison than the sheriffs office, so I did not include her works in this chapter though some of the books are discussed in Chapters Five and Six.
118 boys in town, Daniel only receives many antiIrish slurs, jokes, and insults. Because of the general sentiment against hi s ethnic heritage, the towns people are quick to assume that Daniel is guilty when Mr. Lyman has him arrested, and they are so slow to recognize his innocence when he is released that he decides to move west rather than continue to live under the stigma of guilt. The racial lines are drawn even more clearly in Hoppergrass where the boys, by their own choosin g, sit, work, and recreate only with members of their own race, though class diffe rences are still ment ioned. For example, Bowser readily admits, Since I came from a good home, they [the authorities] thought I had to be nuts to have done what I did [participated in the robbery of a drug store in which his accomplice was shot]. I went along wit h that because I didnt want to get stuck in Belmont. Plus, I thought maybe I was nuts (B rown 31). In contrast to Bowser, [m]ost of the boys there came from poor families. Many of them had been abandoned by their families or even mistreated (Brown 34). Bows ers higher class status changes how the prison officials perceive him, but the books t ensions rest on clashes of race, not class, as Shorty Nub pits the African Amer icans and the European Americans against one another after his negligence causes a boys deat h. Shorty Nub blames Nose, an African American, for the accident, and the white boys, with the exception of Bowser, back up the Nubs version of events. Race relations in the juvenile facility deteriorate, moving from self-enforced segregation to intimidat ion and physical fights. Unfortunately, while Nose and Bowser become the be st of friends, the racial ani mosity among the rest of the boys is never resolved. This American tendency to focus on issues of race and ethnicity rather than class will be discussed further in the next chapt er, which examines American juvenile
119 delinquents in contemporary, realistic novels. Yet the trend to set historical novels about prisons in England, especially Vi ctorian England, as a way to delve into issues of class (and perhaps avoid having to confront issues of race) provides readers with new insights into a factor that can influence inca rceration in modern Amer ica, as well as in historic England, even as the distancing effe ct allows readers to approach the topic at their own pace. Certainly, all of these historical works, whet her they are set in England, America, or elsewhere, permit readers to se e different aspects of prison life, and the individual books vary in the tones and image s that they convey about prisons and the people who live within them. Regardless of thei r differences, each historical novel opens a window through which readers can squarely see accounts of the past and, hopefully, glimpse the pasts connections to the present and the future.
120 CHAPTER 4 LOSSES AND GAINS: POWER DYNAMICS AMONG FICTIONAL JUVENILE OFFENDERS AND THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM Because of its changing legal definiti ons and social conno tations, juvenile delinquency can be difficult to define, though, as with pornography, art, and truth, many people claim that they know it when they s ee it. Indeed, many characters in childrens and especially young adult literature can be unoffi cially labeled as juvenile delinquents, either for their transgressions or their attitudes, but the characters discussed in this chapter all formally appear within the juvenile justice system as suspects, criminals, or convicts. Moreover, once these characters enter the system, most of them find it extremely difficult to extricate themselves. While there are still relatively few books abo ut contemporary juvenile delinquents who are actually involved in the legal system, there is no shortage of real-life teenagers who run afoul of the police. According to t he Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, In 2008, law enforcement agencies in the United States made an estimated 2.11 million arrests of persons younger than age 18 (Puzzancher a 1). Yet, [n]ationally, fewer than 93,000 juvenile offenders were hel d in residential placement facilities on February 22, 2006 (OJJDP np). Despite the two year difference in which these statistics were gathered, it is still re markableand fortunatehow few arrested juveniles end up behind bars, particularly when seven of the eleven main characters featured in the novels about youthful offenders are serving time in some sort of juvenile residential placement facility. Of course, incarcerated juveniles ar e not a new phenomenon, not even in childrens literature. Clara F. Guernseys The Silver Cup (1865) and Mrs. Edwin Sheppards Hester Powers Girlhood (1867) introduce three young characters who are
121 behind bars in adult prisons, even though Hester, the oldest of these three characters, is only sixteen or seventeen years old. (All of these characters are al so innocent of the crimes for which they have been arrest ed.) Similarly, Walter Dean Myers Monster (2001), one of the better known recent wor ks for teenagers about the legal system, sets the story of sixteen year old Steve Harmon in an adult prison,1 and Arjay Moran, one of the three main characters in Gordan Kormans The Juvie Three (2008), spends time in a medium-security adult prison before he is transferred into Douglas Healys halfway house with two other ju venile offenders. Despite the fact that real -life juvenile prisoners ar e increasingly tried and housed within the adult criminal just ice system, the novels that ar e explored in this chapter concentrate on youths who are within the conf ines of the juvenile justice system. Laurie Halse Andersons Twisted (2007) and Alex Sanchezs Bait (2009) feature characters who are both on probation (though Sanchezs Diego also spends a few days in a juvenile correctional facility), and Kormans The Juvie Three showcases the effort needed to start a new halfway house within t he juvenile justice system. Meanwhile, Louis Sachars Holes (2001), Carol Plum-Uccis The Body of Christopher Creed (2001), E.L. Konigsburgs Silent to the Bone (2002), Walter Dean Myers Lockdown (2010), and Paul Volponis Rikers High (2010) all have characters in juvenile detention facilities, and Louis Sachars Small Steps (2006) continues the story of a teenage boy who has been released from such an institution. Intimidating as these juvenile instituti ons are shown to be, and all of these books make a special effort to highlight the des pair, violence, and is olation that their 1 Myers Monster particularly its performative aspects, is discussed in Chapter Five.
122 characters experience while locked up, each of the books in which a character is in juvie also makes it clear that far greater horro rs can be found in other, stricter juvenile detention centers or in adult prisons. Plum-U ccis Bo Richardson, a longtime, petty juvenile offender, is threatened with adult pris on when he refuses to confess to placing a harassing phone call. Chief Bowen informs Bo Look, forget Egg Harbor, forget the juvenile delinquent slumber party up there. You want to go to Jamesburg [the adult prison], Richardson? You got one foot in r eal jail, mister. You have pushed us and pushed us for years (Plum-Ucci 128; italics in original). Other characters, like Myers Reese, Vo lponis Martin, Sachars Stanley and Theodore, and Kormans Gecko, Ar jay, and Terence, are in special programs within the juvenile justice system that supposedly prov ide them with greater opportunities for rehabilitation and keep them from enc ountering hardened and dang erous inmates, although some of the prisoners that they do meet are menacing enough. For example, Volponis Martin is transferred to Sprung #3, a high school program for teenagers inside Rikers Island, a New York jail t hat houses both adults and adolescents,2 and Myers Reese participates in a work-release program in which he spends ten days a month cleaning and assisting residents at a nursi ng home. Sachars labor-intensive Camp Green Lake Juvenile Correctional Facility is cons idered an alternative to jail, at least by the judge who sentences Stanley ( Holes 5), and the halfway house that Kormans Healy sets up for three boys is an experimental, hi ghly structured program. As Healy explains to Gecko, Heres how it works: you live with me and two other boys in an apartment. 2 As Martin says, Rikers is a jail, not a prison. Most everybody here is waiting for an outcome to their case. Anybody getting sentenced to more than a year goes upstate to do his time. And there are no adolescents up there, no kiddy playtime. Its all man-on-man (Volponi 72).
123 You go to school; you go into counseling; you do community service. To be blunt, you work your butt off and keep your nose cl ean (Korman 11-12). Ho wever unbearable all of these boys consider their current homes in the juvenile justice system, they also know that there are far worse places where they may find themselves if they do not manage to follow the rules of their present facilities or special programs. In fact, the always bleak, sometimes brutal depictions of daily life even within these special programs, not to mention the threats of harsher, more violent prison environments, form an important component of the window that these books offer to young readers. While most multicultura l windows are designed to educate and to promote empathy for the books characters and the real-lif e people these characters represent, the view that these novels offer re aders into the world of the juvenile justice system is one laced with warnings and forebodings. Certainly, the books educate their readers about the American juvenile justice syst em, and they do promote some feelings of empathy for their main characters, all of whom are portrayed, at worst, as decent people who have made a few very bad choices. But, unlike the historical novels about criminal justice systems, the tones of the contem porary novels frequently favor fear over empathy as they attempt to instill in t heir readers a deep desire to avoid entering the juvenile justice system themselves.3 Because of their frightening tones and matu re subject matter, as well as the centrality of the prison experience in these contemporary novelsa c entrality that is not softened by a child character mediating bet ween the incarcerated individual and the 3 It is possible that these books are read by real-life juvenile delinquents who are searching for characters like themselves to identify with, but the tones of the books indicate that they are intended to educate and entertain a general audience of young readers (windows), not provide consolation or identification with readers in the same situations as the main characters (mirrors). Therefore, under the multicultural rubric of mirrors, windows, and doors, I classified these books as windows rather than mirrors.
124 reader, by historical or fant astical distancing, or by performative elementsmost of these books are considered to be young adult novels, aimed at an adolescent audience. And, as Roberta Seelinger Trites maintains in Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature (2000), The chief characteri stic that distinguishes adolescent literature from child rens literature is the iss ue of how social power is deployed during the course of the narrative (2).4 Obviously, issues of social power are extremely important to charac ters living within the confi nes of the juvenile justice systeman institution that is all about the enforcem ent of social powe r, often through the restriction of personal powerand power is a recurri ng theme in all of these contemporary young adult novels. The first three sections of this chapt er explore the power dynamics between the young protagonists in the juvenile justic e system and their families and communities, authority figures, and other juvenile offenders. Though these characters are always at the mercy of the system (and society as a w hole), most of the pow er struggles within the system are portrayed at the level of the individual. In particular, the individual justice system employees use of pow er within the system, for good or for ill, is most closely examined in these works, even as power hier archies within the system are also used to maintain order, both by the guards and by the prisoners. Lastly, the final section considers the power of representation, ques tioning the images of gender, race, class, youthful offenders, and the juvenile justice system itself that are portrayed in these 4 The terms young adult (YA) literature and adolesc ent literature are frequent ly used interchangeably. Also, as I mention in the introduction, I consider yo ung adult literature to be a field under the umbrella of childrens literature, so, when I refer to childrens lit erature in other chapters, I am including young adult literature within this larger field, though Trites, for the purposes of her argument, distinguishes between young adult literature for teenagers and childrens literature for younger readers. In this chapter, I will refer to young adult literature more specifically too.
125 works and that can consequently affect how readers perceive the r eal-life juvenile justice system and the adolescents within it. Before Encountering the System: Individual Losses and Surrenders of Power In elaborating on the distinction between childrens liter ature and young adult literature, Trites argues, Child rens literature often affirms t he childs sense of Self and her or his personal power. But in the adol escent novel, protagonists must learn about the social forces that made t hem what they are. They lear n to negotiate the levels of power that exist in the myriad social institutions within whic h they must function (3). Long before they encounter the ju venile justice system then, the characters in these novels are shaped by numerous institutions, in cluding their families, their schools, and their communities. Moreover, as severa l of these books suggest, these social institutions can contribute to t he characters participation in t he activities that lead to the involvement of yet another institutionthe juvenile justice systemin their lives, particularly when these social institutions strip the characters of their sense of individual power. Other characters also deprive themse lves of a sense of empowerment through their beliefs in fate, destiny, or the inevitabili ty of their incarceration. Yet, while some of these books allow their characters loss of per sonal power to be a mitigating factor in their subsequent involvement with the legal system, other books emphasize the personal choice that their characters hav e in deciding to commit a criminal act, suggesting that they surrendered their right to any remainin g personal power when they became part of the system. Not surprisingly, families are the first institution that children must learn to negotiate, and, as several of these novels demonstrate, familial env ironments in which parents override the childs exercise of power through abuse can lead to criminal
126 behavior in their children, who are seeking a way to regain the personal power that the parent has taken from them. For example, in The Juvie Three Terence desperately wants to join a gang because his father, w hile shouting, smacking, and cursing the dreams out of Terence (Korman 18), has also deprived Terence of a sense of belonging, a feeling that he th inks he can recoup in a gang. Myers Reese also endures a physically abusive father, and Andersons Tyler has a verbally abusive father, although neither Myers nor Anderson directly ties the abuse at home with their characters crimes. In Sanchezs Bait however, the sexual abuse of Di ego by his stepfather, Mac, is closely connected with Diegos two assault charges. Unwilling to admit to anyone that his stepfather molested and raped him as a sm all boy, Diego, now sixteen years old, cuts himself, punches the wall, suffers fl ashbacks, and has nightmares about sharks. (Not only is he ashamed and angry about what happened to him as a child, he also holds himself responsible for Macs suicide since Mac killed himself the day after Diego threatened him with a gun, lest Mac begin to abuse Diegos younger stepbrother, Eddie, as well.) Fearful that he brought his sexu al abuse upon himself by being gay or that being raped by a man will make him gay (which he mistakenly conflates with being a pedophile),5 Diego cannot stand to be around gay m en or even to be touched by men. His first assault conviction occurs because F abio, a gay classmate, smiles at him, and his second assault conviction results from Guerreros calling him a faggot. These physical responses to perceived threats on his heterosexual masculinity are triggered 5 Alex Sanchez, a popular author of LGBTQ books for teens and tweens, does not allow Diegos misperception of gay men as pedophiles to stand. He is very careful to draw distinctions between being gay and being a pedophile, as well as between being gay and being the victim of same-sex abuse.
127 by his need to reassert the pow er that Macs molestation took away from him, although, clearly, there are better techniques for addr essing his feelings of helplessness, techniques that Mr. Vidas, hi s gay probation officer and a fellow sexual abuse survivor, shares with him. Like Diego, thirteen-year-old Branwell in Konigsburgs Silent to the Bone is sexually abused within his hom e, but, in his case, the per petrator is twenty-year-old Vivian Shawcurt, the British au pair whom his father and stepmother hired to take care of his new baby stepsister, Nikki. Konigsbur gs novel is the only contemporary work discussed in this chapter that is not told from the point(s) of view of the character(s) who is (are) in trouble with the legal system. Instead, Silent to the Bone is narrated by Connor, Branwells best friend, who visits hi m every day in the Clarion County Juvenile Behavioral Center. There, Br anwell is awaiting possible charges of aggravated assault, manslaughter, or second degree murder of his baby stepsister, depending on her recovery from the injuries that she suffered after being s haken. Branwell has not spoken since he dialed 9-1-1 the afternoon of Nikkis attack, and, after a month in detention, Connor is the first to hear him speak. He spoke to me because even before I knew the details, I believed in him. I knew that Branwell did not hu rt that baby (Konigsburg 9). Connor is correct; Vivian is the guilty party. But Connors older stepsister, Margaret, is also correct when she says that Branwell was struck dumb because he has a terrible secret of which he dare not speak (Konigsburg 138). Branwells secret is that Vivian purposely allowed him to see her in the bat hroom several times, even asking him to wash her back, and causing him to have his fi rst erection. Vivian notices the erection, which she intentionally elicited, and blackm ails Branwell with this information, getting
128 him to take care of Nikki and not to tell hi s father or his stepmot her about her having sex with her boyfriend while she is supposed to be working. Though Branwell is innocent of deliberately injuring Nikki, he knows that he is complicit in the circumstances that allowed her to be hurt, and, overwhelmed with guilt, shame, and the power that Vivian has over him, he loses his ability to s peak. As Margaret expl ains to Connor, He [Branwell] could not accept the way he felt about Vivian, and she knew it, and she used it (Konigsburg 254). And neither of Br anwells parents noticed until Nikki was assaulted.6 Influential as the home environment is in contributing to at least two of the characters involvement in the juvenile ju stice system, particularly when their sense of personal power is taken from them through abuse, Andersons Twisted also suggests that the school community plays a part in motivating Tylers property crime. Bullied at school, as well as at home, for as long as he can remember, Tyler is sick of being a nobody whose lunch money is stolen and whose fa ce is shoved into a toilet. In a desire to assert himself and earn some social capital, Tyler spra y paints the high school with words that proclaimed the superiority of the junior class and a couple crude remarks about the manhood of Principal Hughes ( Twisted 10).7 His bid for attention succeeds, at least for a time with a ce rtain population of the high school but it holds the attention 6 Branwells father and stepmother do not notice t he change in Branwell because they are both overly preoccupied with their work, their new ma rriage, and their new baby. In Sanchezs Bait Diegos mother chooses not to acknowledge her suspicions about her sons abuse at the hands of her husband because she does not want to lose him and the comfortable life in America that he is offering her and Diego, native Mexicans. 7 Clearly, Tylers behavior is not uncommon. It is noted in Juvenile Justice: A Guide to Theory, Policy, and Practice, 6th edition (2008) that [p]eer recognition for ma le middle-class youth may be a reason for senseless acts of destruction of property (Cox 57).
129 of the law much longer, resulting in far wo rse losses of power and privilege than Tyler ever imagined. Tylers act of vandalism has very specific motivations, but other characters commit crimes simply because they live in nei ghborhoods and families in which they are surrounded by so many temptations to break the law that the commission of crimes and the possibly resultant prison s entences appear almost inevit able. These characters are so resigned to the loss of personal power to poverty, their neighborhoods, and their criminal relatives that they are fatalistic about their own involvement in the juvenile justice system. Volponis Martin and Myers Reese both have fathers who have done time. Reeses older brother has also been in prison, as have t he older brothers of Sachars Theodore and Kormans Gecko. Gecko s brother even begins grooming him at the age of nine to become a getaway driver. On the streets on his way to school, Sachars Theodore is offered a chance to sell drugs. And Myers Reese cannot wait to get out of juvenile det ention, but he is afraid that he will immediately return to prison after his release. He explains his fears, sayi ng, I knew the streets were waiting to mess with me. All my homies hanging out and dealing w hatever they had were waiting, all the suckers leaning against the rail on the corner and looking to see who was weak were waiting, and all the gangbanger s with nothing to do but cook up some mad were waiting. Yeah, home ( Lockdown 82-83). Given their home lives and their neighborhoods, many people woul d not be surprised by these boys involvement with the juvenile justice system, and the boys t hemselves seem uncertain if, having gotten caught up in the legal system once, they ca n overcome their environmental influences and avoid more illegal acti vities in the future.
130 Like these characters who bel ieve that the ability to av oid illegal activities and further involvement in the juvenile justic e system may be out of their own control, Sachars Stanley and Sanchezs Diego also relinquish some sense of personal power through their beliefs in fate and destiny. As Pat Pinsent notes, Even though Holes could be regarded as falling entirely within th e mode of realism, in that none of its events actually transcends possibility, it seems to me that it is mo re illuminating to describe the book as a fairy tale, partly becaus e it possesses so many elements of the genre, but also since, like many fairy tales, it conveys a sense that Fate and Fortune are at work in ensuring the happy ending (207).8 But before the happy ending can occur, Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake for stealing the sneakers that baseball legend Clyde Livingston had donated to an auction to raise money for a homeless shelter, a crime that he did not commit. In searching for an explanat ion for this miscarriage of justice, Stanley decides, It wasnt desti ny  It was his no-good-dirty-rotten-pigstealing-great-gr eat-grandfather ( Holes 25). By blaming his misfortunes on his familys curse, one that his ancestor began when he left for America without fu lfilling his promise to carry Madame Zeroni over the mountain and sing a spec ific song to her, Stanley becomes less responsible for the events, both good and bad, in his life. Similarly, after he is arrested for the second time, Diego thinks, Maybe this was his destiny: to be locked up in a real jail cell, where at leas t he couldnt hurt anyone, not even himself (Sanchez 114). With this perspective, he is abl e to avoid shouldering all of the blame for 8 Regarding the genre classification of Holes Annette Wannamaker also observes, The novel does not easily fit into any one genre: while it is often classified as contemporary realism, it could also fit into the categories of fantasy or magical realism (16). For the purposes of this project, I am more interested in the storys realistic aspects.
131 his quick temper and fists or even assigning blame to Mac, whose abusive actions he prefers to ignore. A number of the books offer mitigating factor s to explain, at least partially, their protagonists run-ins with the juvenile justice syst em, whether it is destiny, family curses, crime-ridden neighborhoods, incarcerated relative s, bullying, or abuse. Yet the system places the responsibility for t hese characters actions (or alleged actions in the cases of Sachers Stanley and Konigsburgs Branwell) on the characters themselves. In Myers Lockdown, Mr. Cintron, a prison administrator, te lls Reese, a fourteen-year-old serving time for stealing a doctors prescription pads and selling them to a drug dealer, Youre in here with boys who can steal, who can shoot each other, who can kill. Thats the kind of life you chose, and thats the life you got. And youre one of them (47). Though this attitude does not allow for much differentiation among individual juvenile offenders and the reasons and motivations behind their offenses, it does remind the charactersand the readersthat committing a crime is usually a choice. It may also give thoughtful readers an opportunity to consider questions of personal responsibility, especially in relation to environmental and familial consider ations and pressures. But, whether the books place more blame on the individual juvenile offenders, on unfortunate circumstances, or even on fate for landing their characters in the legal system, none of the novels holds the juvenile justice system itself responsible for any of its seeming failures, like wrongful incarcerations, inmate s who are injured in its custody, or the inability of the system to rehabili tate many juvenile offenders. Accepting Your Place: Power St ructures w ithin the System Though the juvenile justice system itself is never portrayed as failing or as an institution in need of change, specific i ndividuals within the system are shown as
132 corrupted by the power that they hold, especially when they abuse itor when they abuse the juvenile offenders. Likewise, ju st as any abuses within the system are attributed to individuals, any successes, lik e the rehabilitation of a juvenile delinquent, can be traced back to a particular individual within the system. Despite this focus on individual employees, both good and bad, in the juvenile justice system, definite power hierarchies within the system are also revealed in the books that take place in juvenile detention facilities, and the inmates mimic and adapt the power structures that they observe among the prison officials for thei r own purposes. Furthermore, the inmates also bully and tear each other down, just as the corrections officers often intimidate and harass them, all in an effort to increase or retain their own sense of personal poweror at least the illusion of it within the institution. While the inmates vie with each other for status within their own hierarchies of power, the prison officials are determined to make sure that the inmates realize and accept their comparatively powerless positio ns as convicted felons, both within the juvenile correctional institutions and within the larger society.9 In Sachars Holes the Warden forces the boys to dig holes every day for what she hopes will be her own monetary gain, and officers, like Mr. Sir and Mr. Pendanski, belittle the boys, especially 9 Though this section addresses the abuses and corruptions of power by prison officials in juvenile institutions, the police also abuse their positions of authority in Plum-Uccis The Body of Christopher Creed and Sachers Small Steps In Plum-Uccis novel, Chief Bowen im plies that Torey and his friend, Ali, should implicate Bo in placing a harassing phone call even if one of them committed the crime, because he would rather arrest Bo than his childrens friends. Also, when Bo tells Chief Bowen that his children know about his affair with Alis mo ther, Chief Bowen hits Bo six times, giving him two black eyes. After this assault, Chief Bowen resigns, but Mrs. Adams te lls Torey that the other two officers present would have kept the dirty little secret (Plum-Ucci 257). In Sachars Small Steps when Theodore unknowingly uses two counterfeit tickets at a rock concert, the polic e use excessive force in evicting him from his seat, especially after Ginny, his friend, begins having a se izure that the police think Theodore induced through drugs. Theodore is lying on the ground in handcuffs being beaten with a night stick when the mayor intervenes and demands that Theodore be released, alte ring the power dynamics at play with her threat to demote any officer who does not let Theodore go. She also questions whether the polices actions were racially motivated.
133 Zero, the smallest inmate whom Mr. Penda nski in particular deems to be worthless. Even worse, in Volponis Rikers High and Myers Lockdown the corrections officers humiliate and demean the inmate s both through verbal insu lts and physical assaults. The boys are routinely told that they are nothing, and they are slapped, hit, and manhandled on a regular basis. Upon entering the special school program at Rikers after he is sliced across the face with a ra zor by another inmate, leaving a cut that requires fifty-three stitches, Volponis Mart in is immediately made aware of his new houses power dynamics when Officer Johnson pu lls him over for a chat before they even enter the house.10 Martin describes the little area outside of the jails doors, saying, We were in his private jail now, a ten-foot s pace where he made all the rules and kept them with his fists (Volponi 30; italics in original). All of the guards in Volponi and Myers novels enforce the rules with their fists. The only time that a corrections officer backs down or apologizes for a use of excessive force is when a female guard sprays an inmate with a fire extinguisher in Rikers High She subsequently admits that she was wrong and brings him Chinese food fo r lunch, lest he report her and place her job in jeopardy. Apart from this one incident, the correcti ons officers seem confident in their unchallenged ability to maintain power and c ontrol over the inmates. As Volponis Martin, a seventeen year old who is waitin g to plead guilty for steering (directing an undercover police officer to a marij uana dealer in his neighborhood), observes, 10 In the Authors Note in the front matter of Rikers High Volponi reports, The overwhelming majority of incidents that occur in this book really happened. I witnessed them firsthand during the six years I worked as a teacher on Rikers Island. The fiction here is the creation of a protagonist who represents the actual experiences of several student-inmates (np).
134 But the COs [corrections officers] insi de arent scared, because they stick up for each other. That uniform connects them like one big gang. Only theyre more dangerous than any gang I know, because they have badges and the courts to back them up. Inmates have COs outnumbered, maybe th irty to one. But theyre all apart, fighting over every little thing, and t he COs are too much together. Even if some COs dont like each other, they hate inmates even worse. The only time a CO has to worry is if a bunch of inmates jump him all at once. And every CO has a personal al arm clipped to his shirt. When he hits the button, a signal goes off in a contro l room up at the front of the jail. The riot squad comes running on the double. And those animals will hit anything that moves, including kids with thei r hands up in the air. (Volponi 33) Because the corrections officers are so unit ed in the preservation of their power, very few inmates will openly cross them. For example, in Rikers High Officer Arrigo hits Jessup, an inmate who had raised a fist against him, so hard that Jessup has to be sent to the clinic, where a report will be filed. In or der to justify his atta ck on Jessup, Officer Arrigo punches himself in the eye and claims t hat Jessup assaulted him. Not only do his fellow COs back up his story, but a number of the inmate s write witness statements, corroborating Officer Arrigos version of event s, because they are told to do so, though they also hope to gain favors or preferentia l treatment (Volponi 181-193). Similarly, when Mr. Pugh, a guard in Myers Lockdown, realizes that a physical altercation is about to break out between Reese and Cabo, he leaves the room, letting the fight occur. Later, when Reese is called to Mr. Cintrons office about the fight, he concedes, I wasnt going to rat Mr. Pugh out because I knew he could do a lot more to me than I could to him (Lockdown 51).11 The despicable behavior of these prison office rs stems from their confidence in the power granted them by the in stitution and its prot ection, as well as their ability to 11 Excessive and cruel as the actions of the corrections officers ma y seem to readers, the books characters never appear surprised by the guards acti ons, perhaps because they witness so much cruelty among themselves, as well as from the guards.
135 exercise this power as they see fit, usua lly in ways that disem power and demoralize the inmates. But other individuals within the syst em use their authority to empower the boys in their care to believe in themse lves and their futures. In Sanchezs Bait for example, Mr. Vidas, Diegos probation officer, gets Diego to open up about his past abuse, and he shows Diego how to express his feelings in non-violent ways. Though Diego initially feels betrayed when he learns that Mr. Vidas is gay, Mr. Vidas still becomes a father figure to him, and he is even reluctant to end his probation because, [t]o him, Vidas had become more than a PO [probation officer]: a friend. More than a friend (Sanchez 236; italics in original). Douglas Healy in Kormans The Juvie Three also becomes an integral and trusted figure in the lives of the thr ee boys in his custody, even defending their decision not to report the accident in whic h he suffered a head injury and resultant temporary amnesia to the authorities.12 At the end of the nov el, all three of his chargesboys who were convicted of driv ing a getaway car during a robbery, of manslaughter,13 and of orchestrating a gang heistagr ee that they had made mistakes and suffered misfortunes. But the best thing thats happened to any of them is Douglas Healy (Korman 246), who gives each of them a chance to turn his life around. Though more detached than Kormans Healy or Sanchezs Mr. Vidas, the guards at the juvenile behavioral center in Konigsburgs Silent to the Bone and some of the teachers in Volponis Rikers High exercise their power benevolently and appear 12 Douglas Healy is a former juvenile offender who was convicted of assault after he got into a fight while selling fireworks with his cousin. He served thirty-two months in a juvenile correctional facility, which motivated his desire to open the halfway house and offe r other juvenile offenders a better chance at rehabilitation. 13 Arjay pushed a football player who was ganging up on him, and the boy fell, hit his head on a statue, and died. It was an accident or possibly even self-defense, so Healy believes, Arjays the rarest thing in the systema genuine innocent man. He just ran in to a DA up for reelection in a bad year for youth crime (Korman 24).
136 genuinely interested in and concerned about the boys in their facilities. The guards report on Branwells condition to Connor, get notebooks so that Connor can record the letters and words that Branwe ll is supplying him through blinks and nods at flashcards, and do not share Branwell and Connors syst em of nonverbal communication with Branwells adult visitors. Teachers like Mrs. Daniels, Miss Archer, and Demarco Costa are also likely to side with the boys rather than with other adults, like the corrections officers, and they try to defend the boys from the officers attacks whenever possible. Martin especially likes Demarco, who calls the boys by their names rather than their prison numbers and encourages t hem to think positively about themselves. When Demarco hands out their report cards at the end of a term, he informs the boys, These grades are probably the most important ones y oull ever receive. They prove that no matter how tough things get in your life you can still concentrate on school and move ahead. You should be really proud of these repor t cards. I want you to know that Im proud to hand them out (Volponi 187). As Martin remarks, Dudes couldnt help but feel better about themselves after a speech like that (Volponi 187), and this validation is especially valuable since t hese boys are not given many opportunities to feel good about themselves.14 Despite the fact that some of the teachers in Volponis Rikers High strive to improve the inmates self-esteem, or perhaps because of it, there are constant power struggles among the good teachers the principal, and the corre ctions officers assigned 14 In Myers Lockdown Reese admits that Mr.Cintron is the on ly one at Progress who I believed most of the time (11), and Mr. Cintron does allow Reese to remain in the work-release program despite his three fights. But he also demeans Reese regularly, and he has his ownadmittedly positiveagenda in demonstrating the effectiveness of the work-release program, his own pet project. So, it is unclear throughout the novel whether he is actually trying to help Reese with tough love or if he simply needs Reeses record to be as clean as possible in order to make the work-release program look better.
137 to the jails special school program over the comparative im portance of genuine learning, the outward appearance of the program, and the security of the facility. These tensions come to a head when Mr. Murray, an indifferent teacher, loses his metal chalk holder, and the corrections officers must find it before it can be transformed into a weapon. They ransack the school, strip search all the boys, and call the Turtles (guards in riot gear) to search the dormitories, but all of their efforts turn up naught because Mr. Murray had found the chalk holde r at the bottom of his bag earlier. But neither he nor Ms. Jackson, the principal, thinks to report this discovery to the prison officials. A furious Captain Montenez fires Mr. Murray on the spot, despite Ms. Jacksons objections, suggesting that prison officials ultimately have control over the schools staff, even though Demarco tells the boys th at the now absent Murray is really awaiting an evaluation and probable transfer fr om the Board of Education. This unresolved struggle for the upper hand in the school reemerges several days later when Mrs. Daniels, the science teacher, refuses to participate in t he cover-up of Officer Arrigos assault on Jessup. She files a report with Internal Affa irs, prompting an inve stigation that may portend trouble for Officer Arrigo and his co-w orkers, but she also has to leave the school after filing her report, so the book suggests that no clear victor is likely to emerge soon in this contentious power skirmish. Yet the presentation of these competing factions within the jail enhances and heightens the focus on individual employees as the problem rather than th e institution itself. While the corrections officers in Volponis Rikers High may battle the teachers and the principal for power in the jails school, their own groups power dynamics are clearly established in their official hierarchy. The guards may have the most direct contact and
138 immediate power over the inmates, but their superiors are the captains, who wear white shirts to stand out from the COs, who dress in blue and report to them (Volponi 86). The captains occasional appearances in the school, the dormitory, or the halls motivate the corrections o fficers to respond even more quickly and harshly to any infractions, and the boys too understand the need to be on their best behavior in the presence of higher authorities. So, on the rare occasion in which they glimpse a deputy warden, the boys just froze and only their eyes turned sidew ays to see, because that deputy warden had probably ten times the power of a captain (Volponi 175). At the principals request, the deputy warden has come to investigate her complaints about students being allowed to sleep in classanot her power play in the confrontation among teachers, the prin cipal, and the corrections office rs. Captain Montenez responds to his superiors presence by yanking a slee ping student out of his chair and expelling him from the school program, a dramatic response to an offense that he normally overlooks.15 Like the jail authorities in Volpon is novel, the staff in Sachars Holes follows a carefully defined chain of command. The Warden, the highest power in the camp, bosses and often abuses the camp counselors, par ticularly Mr. Sir, w ho in turn take out their frustrations on the inma tes, especially Stanl ey and Zero, the boys on the lowest rung of the prisoners own pow er structure. Camp Green Lakes hierarchy is disrupted when first Zero and then Stanley run away and the Warden tries to cover up their disappearances. Stanleys new lawyer, Ms Morengo, proves his innocence and comes 15 Though Volponi emphasizes the importance of the jails chain of authority in the inmates lives, he also mentions the power held by the district attorney, wh o, as Martin says, had every kid on Rikers shook. Thats because he had the power, and held a good part of your life in his hands (Volponi 244).
139 to the camp to get Stanley. Since the Wa rden will not (and cannot) release Stanley to her, Ms. Morengo returns the next day with t he Texas Attorney General, whose power as the chief law enforcement officer for the state (Holes 215), supersedes the Wardens control of the camp. He takes over the facility himself, eventually closing it, while also reassuring readers that higher authorities within the legal system can step in to remedy the wrongdoings of other individuals within the system who have abused their power. Imitating the authorities in Volponis Rikers High and Sachars Holes the juvenile inmates create their own hierarchies, and they engage in power struggles as the boys at the top strive to protect their positions of c ontrol from other boys who would like to climb the prison ladder. Though Sachars Stanley is far from power-hungry, he is nevertheless pleased when the other inmates start refe rring to him as Caveman because this bestowal of a nickname meant that they accepted him as a member of the group. He would have been glad even if theyd call him Barf Bag ( Holes 54). Shortly after Stanley begins to answer to the name of Caveman, he also moves ahead of Zero in the water line, the visible manifestation of the boys hierarchy, after he gives X-Ray, the boy at the front of the line, t he lipstick case that he found in hi s hole. Following this exchange, Stanley moved up one place in line ( Holes 63), a reward for his obedience to the boys established power structure. Just as X-Ray is the undisputed head of the boys cabin in Holes Brick is the leader of Sprung #3, at least when Volponis Ma rtin first arrives. As such, Brick and his closest associates control the use of t he phones, play with the good basketball in the yard, and obtain mountains of food on their pl ates (Volponi 48), more that they can
140 possibly eat, while Martin is still hungry after finishing his portion. Brick has attained his position of power through juggling, in which he sells items from the commissary to the other boys on credit, obtaining two of everything that he advances when he is reimbursed, and through his willingness to collect debts by the use of force if necessary. But Bricks control of the house begins to falter when Martin, the new inmate, refuses to follow Bricks rules, prompting other boys to follow his example. Then Brick loses his Spanish interpreter to a transfer and, c onsequently, his stranglehol d over the Hispanic inmates is loosened. He tries to maintain his power by having his enforcers beat up several boys, but, despite these displays of vi olence, the other boys refuse to pay their debts or to submit to Bricks decrees about phone use, so, when Martin leaves Sprung #3, power plays to assume Bricks former position are beginning. As part of their efforts to acquire indi vidual power among the other inmates and to advance their positions in the groups hier archy, the boys frequently take power from one another through bullying and physical assaults, the same strategies that the guards employ to maintain their power. Boys in Sachars Holes Volponis Rikers High and Myers Lockdown fight, both verbally and physically, over numerous issues, including debts, insults, deals, items st olen from one another, and the choi ce of television station. In the end, however, all of their altercations are bids for power just as surely as Toons bloody nose and black eye in Lockdown are evidence of another inmates bid to be accepted into 3-5-7, a prison gan g. In particular, Myers novel stresses the damage that inmates do to one another in an effort to keep others from gaining more than they have, especially the possibility of a future beyond bars. As Mr. Cintron tr ies to explain to Reese after Reese gets into yet another fight,
141 Ninety percent of the inmates here arent going anywhere with their lives and they know it. Its not because they cant, its because they simply wont. They know it, and every time they see someone who looks like he might break the cycle and do something with his life, they want to pull him back in.  Especially if you look like them, if you come from the same environment they come from. If you turn your life around, youre putting the blame on them for not turning theirs around. ( Lockdown 141) Discouraging as this portrayal of so many fictional juvenile offenders and their futures is, the desire of certain inmates to keep other inmates from leaving prison reveals only an additional, particularly cruel pl ay for power because, as all prisoners know, power taken from the strong carries more social cu rrency than power taken from the weak. Though these desires to keep one anot her down and the frequently violent behaviors to which these desires lead do not justify the prison officials abuses of power, they may help to explain so me of the corrections officers untoward actions, just as mitigating factors can be offered to rationa lize some of the juvenile offenders poor choices. Unfortunately, some inmates, like some prison officials, want all of the prisoners to accept their places of rela tive powerlessness within the legal system, believing that they can do no better. Yet other prison officials help the boys in their custody to regain a sense of their own worth and personal po wer, which will help them to negotiate more successfully with soci al powers, both inside and outside of the juvenile justice system. Trying to Move On: Struggles to Regain Personal Power After a criminalizing encount er with the legal system, re claiming ones sense of personal power and worth can be difficult. Tr i tes remarks, When adolescents grapple with such questions as, Do I dare disturb the universe? they must reckon with both their sense of individual power and their rec ognition of the social forces that require them to modify their behaviors (6). The guilty juvenile offenders in these books have
142 already disturbed the universe in soci ally unsanctioned ways, and they are paying heavily for these disturbances. Moreover, they are beginning to consider how they may next change their lives and the world, either fo r good or for ill. As they endeavor to make these changes, they are well aw are of the social pressure s upon them because both the criminal justice system and society as a whole are predisposed to suspect recidivism in juvenile offenders and to scrutinize their behav ior accordingly. But many of these boys have a much more tenuous grasp on their own power. In fact, some of the boys are so overwhelmed by the social powers bearing down on them that they resort to suicide or another form of escape, either as a comp lete surrender of personal power or as an extreme assertion of their control over thei r own lives. Fortunately, many of the boys, especially the books main characters, seize other means or moments of empowerment as they begin the gradual, often painful proce ss of self-discovery and the reclamation of their own sense of power. Yet as part of reclaiming their own s ense of power, several of the books characters must also reconcile themselves to the fact that their records give the legal system a greater amount of power over th em, including the perhaps unfair power to more readily suspect them of and investigate t hem for crimes that they actually did not commit. For example, when Plum-Uccis Torey complains that the police are questioning Bo about the threatening phone call because he is from the poorer, more questionable part of town, Toreys mother, an attorney, replies, Theyre [the police] not picking on him because of wheres he from but because hes got a record as long as your arm. I have personally seen that kid in c ourt five or six times, did you know that? (Plum-Ucci 126). Like Bo, Andersons Tyler and Myers Reese are also considered as
143 viable suspects in new crimes by the po lice because of their past misdeeds. When Bethany, a popular girl whom Tyler rea lly likes, is photographed drunk and naked at a party and the pictures are circulated over th e Internet, the police interview Tyler three times and confiscate his computer as evi dence of a possible crim e, both because he was seen at the party with Bethany and because of his arrest record. Similarly, two detectives inform Reese that Freddy Book er, the man who snit ched on Reese about the stolen prescription pads, has now fingered him for stealing the prescription drugs that led to the death of a user. The detectives offer Reese a deal: he can get three years added to his current juvenile term if he pl eads guilty or he can go to trial and risk a twenty year sentence. Reese is innocent of the new charges, but he seriously considers pleading guilty because he does not think t hat he can endure twenty more years in prison. Fortunately, he is not compelled to make a final decision because the detectives drop him from their investigation, but he, Tyle r, and Bo all realize t hat their presumption of innocence has been damaged, if not destroyed, by their previous encounters with the law. Like the police, society as a whole also prejudges these juvenile offenders based on their previous crimes, frequently dismissing them as irredeemable, avoiding them, or even harassing them. As a counselor at a hal fway house informs Sachars Theodore, If you think life was unfair before you went to prison,  its going to be twice as bad when you go back [home]. People are going to expect the worst from you, and treat you that way ( Small 4). Indeed, a lot of people treat Theodo re as a crime waiting to happen. Convicted of assault and battery at the age of fourteen afte r he got into a fight at a movie theater that sent his two opponents to the hospital, Theodorealso known as
144 Armpit at Camp Green Lake where he knew Stanley, aka Cavemanis drug tested by his parents, either feared or scorned by hi s peers, and ditched by a date whose friends convince her that he is dangerous. Even wors e, after Theodore begi ns dating Kaira, a famous rock star, her stepf ather and manager, trie s to set Theodore up as the fall guy for the murder of Kaira because Theodore has a criminal record. Extreme as this example is, many other characters, including Plum-Uccis Bo, Andersons Tyler, Myers Reese, Sanchezs Diego, and Kormans Gecko, Arjay, and Terence are also treated differently because of their involvement with the juvenile justice system. Their schoolmates and neighbors fear Diego, Gecko, Arjay, and Terence, and Reese is embarrassed to admit, ev en to himself, that Mr. Hooft, a resident at the nursing home where he serves his work-re lease hours, was looking over at me like he was scared of me ( Lockdown 56). As for Tyler, after the rumors circulate about him taking and distributing the photos of Bethany, he finds his personal effects destroyed, his wallet stolen, and his face pummeled, even though he had nothing to do with the crime for which he is being condem ned. Similarly, both Bo and Torey are viewed as possible killers after Renee Bowen, the police chiefs daughter, wrongfully accuses them of murder ing Creed together in The Body of Christopher Creed Though, unlike Bo, Torey does not have a juvenile record, the stigma of Bos previous criminal history, as well as his social status as a boon (a member of the lower class in Steepleton, New Jersey), and Toreys friendship with him are enough to taint both boys with the suspicion of murder, although public opinion eventually shifts from Torey, if not from Bo.
145 Confronted with so many prejudgments, suspicions, and even blatant fear, many of the boys feel overwhelmed by the soci al powers pushing against them. But a few boys maintain or develop enough personal power to continue interacting with the individuals who fear them most and some of these individuals realize the inaccuracy of their initial assessments of the boys. For example, in Sachars Small Steps Ginnys mother was ready to move away when she found out that t he boy next door was a violent criminal who would soon be returni ng home (21). But later, after Theodore and Ginny, a ten-year-old with cerebral palsy, be come best friends, Ginnys mother is very pleased with her decision to remain in their home.16 Mr. Hooft and Reese in Myers Lockdown also transform their relationship from one based on fear and mutual disregard to one in which they share confidences and trust. And Mrs. Liebowitz, the boys elderly neighbor in Kormans The Juvie Three who initially refuses to let Arjay help her carry her groceries or her garbage, is finally worn down by Arjays continual offers of help. He tackles various odd jobs for her, and, in return, she changes her mind about all three boys and begins to watch out for them in a whole new way. For example, when DeAndre and his gang threaten to atta ck Terence, Arjay, and Gecko one night, Mrs. Liebowitz shouts down from her post at the window, Ive di aled nine-one-one and Im about to push the send button. You get out of here and leave my boys alone (Korman 202; emphasis mine). Though Kormans three protagonist s, especially Arjay, should be proud of the new relationship that they have established with Mrs Liebowitz, other char acters cannot take 16 Theodore is also fortunate in that he finds an employer, Jack Dunlevy, at a landscaping company, who is willing to hire an ex-convict with apparently no questions asked. Dunlevy also offers X-Ray, another former inmate at Camp Green Lake, a job at the end of the novel.
146 pride in anything in their lives, and so they try to escape them. In Myers Lockdown Toon opts to attempt suicide rather than go home to parents who are perpetually disappointed in him, and, in Volponis Rikers High Sanchez, who was terrified about completing his sentence in an adult prison, su cceeds in hanging himself, although it is unclear whether his suicide was intentional or his plan to fa ke a suicide in exchange for money ended badly. Feeling like a failure, Ander sons Tyler also tries to shoot himself with his fathers gun and to run away, but he c annot bring himself to complete either act. Lastly, the perfect life of Plum-Uccis Torey comes crashing down around him after he is falsely accused of murder and also discove rs the body of a missing man, Bob Haines, in the woods. Torey develops post-traumatic stress disorder, is hospitalized in a mental health facility, and finishes his junior y ear of high school at home before going to a boarding school for his senior year. He leaves his home town because he cannot endure the accusations that still linger around him, and his escape from these social pressures allows him to make a fresh star t. While Toreys decision to go to boarding school is clearly self-empowering, as we ll as escapist, the motivations of Toon, Sanchez, and Tyler are less clear. Their ac tions can be understood as an assertion of their own power over their lives, particularly since all of these characters feel completely disempowered by the juvenile justice system, their peers, and t heir families, or they can be perceived as surrenders to the numerous so cial pressures surrounding them. Either way, with his death, Sanchez can no longer par ticipate in any negotiations of power. Unlike the unfortunate Sanchez, all of the main protagonists in these works continue to make what Sachar would call small steps in increasing their personal power. Once Tyler turns eighteen in Twisted, he defies his father, changing his class
147 schedule and returning to his landscaping job. He also initiates a meeting with his probation officer and informs the principal that he will be returning to class, even though he has not yet been cleared in the matter of Bethanys photographs. Sanchezs Diego participates in a visualization exercise with Mr. Vidas and imagines letting go of Mac, as well as the resentment and anger that Macs abuse created. And Konigsburgs Branwell finally verbalizes his shameful secret, te lling Connor about what happened with Vivian in the bathroom. In Kormans The Juvie Three Gecko, Arjay, and Terence choose to remain in the halfway house and live as if Healy were still supervising them when he is actually in the hospital, transforming a form of social control into a matter of personal choice and empowerment.17 Similarly, Volponis Martin el ects to call for a guard rather than cut the boy who sliced his own face, and Myers Reese has an epiphany in a detention cell, in which he realizes, I just need to stay away from people who gave up on themselves ( Lockdown 242). Following his own advice, he pours his energy into taking care of his nine year old sister, t he most optimistic person he knows, after his release. Plum-Uccis Torey also avoids the people who can pull him down by leaving for boarding school, where he initiates his own Internet search for Christopher Creed, who he believes is alive. Meanwhile, Theodore in Small Steps perseveres with his goal of finishing high school and earns a promotion at work, while Holes Stanley manages to 17 Gecko also has his own moment of self-empow erment when he sees an unsupervised UPS truck and hops in, ready to steal it, either out of habit or from the stress of Healys accident and subsequent absence, but he resists the temptation. As Korman deta ils, He shifts into drive and feels the transmission pull forward. His foot is half an inch from the pedalh es visualizing himself wheeling into trafficwhen it finds the brake again. He slams back into park and slum ps in the seat. No. Thats the old Gecko (113).
148 save his friend Zeros life, discovering in th e course of this rescue mission that [h]e liked himself now (Holes 185).18 Even as the boys begin to regain a greater degree of control over their own lives, the social pressures weighing down on them do not necessarily lessen. The boys are just getting more adept at negotiating their own powers and the powers that have both legal and social control over them. All of the boys are also choosing to invest their power and energy in socially acceptable choices and behaviors, decisions made in large part because of the supportive people in their lives, as well as because of their desires to avoid further contact with the legal system. Yet several of the people who support and motivate the boys come from the ju venile justice system itself, whether they are employees of the system, like Mr. Vidas, Healy, and Demarco, or the boys fellow inmates, like Toon. (The combined factors of the boys resistance to spending more time in the system and the support that some of them receive from individuals within the system offer an endorsement of the juvenile justice system, however much the boys personally hate it.) Other c haracters obtain support from their friends and families. Wherever it comes from, encouragement and assistance appear vital to the boys chances of overcoming their experiences wi thin the legal system and of continuing to take small steps.19 18 Or, if you prefer to see Holes as a fairy tale about fate, Stanley does not begin to like himself until after he has carried Zero, a descendant of Madame Zeroni up a mountain while singing a lullaby that his mother taught him, breaking the curse that has remained upon his family for four generations. 19 Just as these juvenile offenders need the support of others, child characters with incarcerated parents are also portrayed as needing strong friendships or surrogate families to help overcome the stigma and adversity of having a parent behind bars. Yet while these juvenile offenders rely on their friends, families, and individuals whom they meet within the juven ile justice system for support, the children with imprisoned parents befriend other socially marginal ized individuals. For more information on child characters with incarcerated parents and their friendships, see Chapter Two.
149 Images Offered: The Power of Representation While the previous sections have been c onc erned with the power negotiations of individual juvenile offenders, this section addresses the images of the offenders and the juvenile justice system as a whole. The representations of the system and the characters within its confi nes that are found in these works do not always represent reality. Nevertheless, they still have the pow er to influence readers perceptions not only of the characters and the ficti onal systems that exert power ov er them but also of reallife youthful offenders and the actual American ju venile justice system.20 For example, in an accurate depiction of the American juvenile justice system, girls would be present, but no female inmates or probationers appear in these books or in any contemporary, realistic works t hat I could find. Indeed, Sheppards Hester Powers Girlhood published in 1867, and Karen Schwabachs A Pickpockets Tale (2008), set in 1730, are the only works in my sample to fe ature an incarcerated gi rl, although readers do briefly meet a female juvenile delinquent in Chris Carleton Browns Hoppergrass (2009), another work of historical fiction. Not only are all of these works historical, but Sheppard and Schwabachs novel s are also set in England, removing the delinquent girls from contemporary, American settings.21 Unfortunately, this lack of representation of American female juvenile offenders is not new. In Where the Bad Girls Are (Contained): Representations of the 1950s Female Juvenile Delinquent in Childrens Literature and Ladies Home Journal I argue that, in the mi dst of the national panic 20 All of these books are set in the United States. 21 Schwabachs Molly is actually sentenced to transpor tation to the American colonies, so part of the book takes place in New York, but all of the legal action in the story occurs in England under the British system of law. Chapter Three discusses both Schwab ach and Sheppards works in more detail.
150 over juvenile crime in the 1950s, the female juvenile delinquent was largely ignored.22 In fact, I located only three childrens boo ks from that decade that featured girl delinquentsHal Ellsons Tomboy (1950), Elizabeth George Speares The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958), and Anne Alexanders The Pink Dress (1959)and only in Speares work of historical fiction does t he protagonist see the in side of a jail cell. Alexanders Sue is sentenced to community se rvice, and Ellsons Tomboy has thus far successfully evaded the police. Despite this apparent downward turn in the number of contemporary books featuring female juvenile delinquents between the 1950s and the 2000s, the number of girls who are being arrested, formally charge d, and incarcerated by the American legal system has increased.23 As Cox et al. note, Historically, we [Americans] have observed three to four arrests of juv enile males for every arrest of a juvenile female. During the period from 2001 to 2005, this ratio changed cons iderably so that juvenile females now account for roughly 42% of ar rests of those under 18 years of age (67). Moreover, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports, Nationally, females accounted for 15% of juvenile offenders in residential placements in 2006 (np). The reality of so many girls being arrested and im prisoned needs to be reflected in childrens 22 Working from the psychoanalytic viewpoint that pr edominated the few studies of female juvenile delinquents in the 1950s, I conclude, [T]he 1950s delinquent girl wasand remainsa largely ignored figure, probably in large part because if her agency was not being limited by her relationship with her father, then it was restricted by a presupposed relation to bad-boy rebellion (Medovoi 267), or both (Caponegro 326). 23 Despite their increasing numbers in the juvenile justice system, Cox et al. state, According to ChesneyLind (1999), females have been largely overlooked by those interested in juvenile justice, and indeed many of their survival mechanisms (e.g., runni ng away when confronted with abusers) have been criminalized. It appears that the juvenile justice netwo rk does not always act in the best interests of female juveniles because it ignores their unique problems (Holsinger, 2000) (67).
151 and young adult novels about the juvenile justice system, lest readers come to believe that juvenile delinquency is a pr oblem endemic only to young males. Though these books feature only male protagonists, they do include a more racially diverse group of boys. Of the eleven main characters, six are Caucasian, four are African American, and one is Hispanic American. In act uality, [f]or every 100,000 non-Hispanic black juveniles living in the U.S., 767 were in a residential placement facility on February 22, 2006for Hispani cs the rate was 326, and for non-Hispanic whites it was 170 (OJJDP np). Furthermore, [i]n 2008, although black youth accounted for just 16% of the youth popul ation ages 10-17, they were involved in 52% of juvenile Violent Crime Index arrest s and 33% of juvenile Property Crime Index arrests (Puzzanchera 1).24 Given these statistics, the main c haracters do not accurately reflect the racial composition of juvenile arrest s and incarcerations in the United States, although they come closer to representing the racial realities of an incarcerated population than the children s books about characters with an imprisoned parent do,25 and Volponis Rikers High and Myers Lockdown both introduce readers to juvenile detention centers that are fu ll of African American and Hispanic American teenagers. As Volponis Martin observes in looking around hi s dormitory, There were thirty-two other black faces, sixteen Spanish ones, and Ritz [t he sole Caucasian, nicknamed for being a 24 In considering factors that could contribute to the high rates of arrests and incarcerations among African American youth, Cox et al. posit, [ B]lacks and other minority group members may be overrepresented in the official statistics simply because they live in high-crime areas that are heavily policed, and, therefore, are more likel y to be arrested than those living in less heavily policed areas (23). Drakeford and Staples focus more on the racial biases t hat they see at play in t he criminal justice system, contending, [S]ome juvenile justice officials make decisions [about which offenders to arrest or incarcerate] based on a belief that African American families are dysfunc tional and unable to control or parent their children effectively (56). 25 For more information about the racial representati ons of child characters and their imprisoned parents, see Chapter Two.
152 cracker] (129). When he first sees Ritz, Martin comments, Just a few of them [Caucasians] had passed through Mod-3 in all the time I was ther e. White dudes are usually real quiet in jail and keep to themselves, because theyve got no power and nobody to watch their backs (Volponi 44). Likewise, in Myers Lockdown the other inmates whom Reese describes are also African American or Hispanic American. In offering readers such forthright depictions of the racial composition of juvenile offenders in many facilities, Volponi and Myers are accurately representing reality, and neither author appears concerned about reinforc ing negative racial stereotypes about youthful offenders. William Drakeford and Jeanine M. Staples may disagree with their presentation strategies, though, noting, African American males are often thought to be aggressive, violent, dangerous, and lacking the discipline necessary to refrain from criminal behavior (Leiber & Mack, 2003). These attitudes are often reinforced in the media, who often inspire fear about African American youth (56). The portrayal of so many dark faces behind bars in Volpon i and Myers novels may unintentionally strengthen such negative attitudes and fears in some readers rather than prompting them to consider why so many minority t eenagers end up in juvenile justice centers in the first place. While it is unclear how readers may interp ret authors depictions of race, both Myers and especially Sachar make it very cl ear in their works t hat racism should be condemned. In Myers Lockdown the elderly Mr. Hooft makes several disparaging remarks about African Americans, which Reese first ignores and then politely refutes. In Holes racism is offered as the explanation for why there is no lake or precipitation at Camp Green Lake. In the town that once exis ted near the lake, Mi ss Katherine, a white
153 school teacher, kissed Sam, an African Americ an onion seller. Because of this kiss, a mob shot and killed both Sam and his belov ed donkey, breaking Miss Katherines heart and causing her to avenge Sam s death by becoming Kissin Kate Barlow, a notorious outlaw. In commenting on these events, t he narrator notes, T hat all happened one hundred and ten years ago. Since then, not one drop of rain has fallen on Camp Green Lake. You make the decision: Whom did God punish? ( Holes 115).26 Moreover, in Sachars Small Steps after Theodore is handcuffed and beaten by several police officers who thought that he was knowingly using counterfeit tickets and that he had triggered Ginnys seizures with drugs, the offi cers try to blame hi m for their physical response to the situation, telling Che rry Lane, the mayor, that Theodore made a threatening gesture and resisted arrest. But C herry is having none of their excuses. She informs the officers, Im not going to let you justify your actions by blaming the victim,  Would the gesture have been so threatening if he was white? ( Small 108-109). Concerns about racism and racial representa tions receive a good deal of attention in Sachars Small Steps and Holes Myers Lockdown and Volponis Rikers High but issues of class and classism ta ke center stage in Andersons Twisted and especially Plum-Uccis The Body of Christopher Creed Andersons Tyler reports, My parents were struggling wannabes of the upper middle class ( Twisted 8), and his arrest for vandalism is viewed as a humiliation and a serious impediment to their social climbing. References to class status and to finances fill the pages, and, in this book, the upper 26 The mob murder of Sam is the most blatantly racist in Holes but Annette Wannamaker explores the idea of inherited white privilege in this work, partic ularly focusing on the relationship between Stanley, who is Caucasian, and Zero, who is African American. She notes, [W]hen Stanley takes responsibility for his inherited privilege by working together with Ze ro, he offers up a model of whiteness for young people to follow that is not merely oppressive nor merely crippl ed into inaction by white guilt, but that is positive and pro-active (22).
154 middle class is presented as the underclass to the extremely wealthy. In contrast, the class warfare in The Body of Christopher Creed occurs between the upper middle class, to which Torey belongs, and the lower class, the boons, of which Bo is a member.27 After Creed, an unpopular classmate goes missi ng, Toreys best friends, all of whom come from well-to-do families, sit around the cafeteria and speculate on who might have killed Creed, quickly narrowing their suspect list down to the boons. This exclusive focus on the boons really bothers Torey, who refl ects, And they were scoping out boons and pointing the finger. I mean, they were talking about a murder here. And for evidence they were bringing up zits, souped-up cars and people smelling bad (Plum-Ucci 64; italics in original). Torey becomes even mo re disturbed when he r ealizes that Mrs. Creed, the missing boys mo ther, and the police are also concentrating their investigation on the boons, particularly Bo, w hose arrest record and prior assault of Creed make him the prime suspect. Unlike Plum-Uccis The Body of Christopher Creed and Andersons Twisted, the other novels do not emphasize issues of class. Konigsburgs Silent to the Bone is the only other novel with upper-middle class charac ters, but its references to class are as infrequent as are the mentions of class or money in the other novels that introduce lower middle class or poor characters. In Sachars Holes readers are told that Stanleys parents cannot afford to hire hi m an attorney, and, in Volponis Riker High Martin is represented by a public defender. Moreover, Martin is in Rikers, awaiting his appearance before the judge, because his mother didnt have the money [for bail] and 27 Though Plum-Uccis novel is narrated by a member of the upper middle clas s rather than a boon, its focus on class divisions casts it as a descendant of S.E. Hintons The Outsiders an early young adult novel about gang fights between the upper and lower clas ses, as well as juvenile delinquents who, by and large, managed to avoid the attention of the police.
155 had to worry about supporting my [his] sister s and Grandma (Volponi 10). Eight of the eleven main characters in these novels co me from families that are struggling financially, but none of these books explores the possible connection between the characters economic status and their involv ement in the juvenile justice system. Yet Drakeford and Staples state, Research sugges ts that what appears to be racial bias may, in fact, be class bias on the part of juve nile justice professionals (Wordes et al., 1994). Minority youths are disproportionately impoverished (OJJDP, 2002) (55). Elaborating on this possible cl ass bias, Cox et al. note, According to further research, the actual relationship between social class and delinquency may be that social cl ass is important in determining whether a particular juvenile becomes par t of the official statistics, not in determining whether a juvenile will ac tually commit a delinquent act (Dentler & Monroe, 1961; Short & Nye, 1958; Tittle, Villemez & Smith, 1978). Most studies of self-reported delinquency hav e shown little or no difference by social class in the commi ssion of delinquent acts. (56) Since the class variances in delinquency appear to occur at the level of institutional intervention rather than at t he level of juvenile commission, the representation of a larger number of youthful o ffenders from the lower classes in these books is accurate, particularly when the offenders are both poor and people of color. But, even as the books reflect the class realities of many real -life juvenile offender s, most of the books also distance themselves from this accu rate representation by addressing issues of class only in peripheral ways. Of course, class, race, and gender are esse ntial aspects of t he overall image of juvenile offenders presented in these young adul t novels. But each of these works offers a more detailed psychological composite of one or more fictional teenagers who are part of the juvenile justice system as well, and the emotional and moral depictions of these main characters often differ from those of the other youthful offenders portrayed in
156 the novels. Even when they are guilty, the ma in characters never really seem to be criminals because readers become well acquai nted with their values, their fears, and their dreams. These juvenile offenders are humani zed, so that reader s are not afraid of them, and each book suggests that its cent ral protagonist(s) will achieve a future beyond the criminal justice system. As Trites states, [A]dolescent literature is at its heart a romantic literature because so many of usauthors, critics, teachers, teenagersneed to believe in the possibility of adolescent growth (15). And these books allow us to do soat least for the ma in characters. Yet, even as these books portray their main characters as redeemable, many of them also introduce secondary characters who are frightening, cruel, and re morseless, characters whom readers are probably happy to envision within the confines of the juvenile just ice system. Perhaps if these characters were developed more fully, like the chief protagonists are, or if readers were granted access to the thoughts behind their actions, then they may seem less reprehensible or intimidating. But, as the boo ks stand, the main char acters, all of whom are wholly capable of growth and deserving of their own personal power, often appear as exceptions within the juvenile justice system. In fact, the novels depictions of so many threatening secondary characters may justify the need for a juvenile ju stice system, both in these fict ional works and in real life. The books show that the experience of being on probation or especially behind bars is awful and humiliating, but they also s uggest that many young offenders need these forms of supervision. Moreover readers cannot be entirely su re in many cases if even the redeemable main characters seek to improv e themselves because of or in spite of their contact with the juvenile justice system. Sanchezs Diego and Sachars Stanley
157 especially benefit from thei r time within the system, ev en though the innocent Stanley should never have been there in the first plac e. Both boys increase their self-esteem and their personal power during their encount ers with the system, although no one at Camp Green Lake really intends to help St anley (or any of the other boys). And the other main characters gain knowledge and st rength from their experiences with the system, despite the fact that these gains frequent ly come at an enormous cost of great suffering and the loss of much personal power. These books representations of the juvenile justice system and youthful offenders are not always completely accurate, but they do possess the power to alter readers understandings of the system the delinquents within it, and the power dynamics between them, both in the indi vidual works and in real-lif e. Thus, the multicultural window into young adult novels about juvenile offenders teaches that the juvenile justice system is not only necessary in protec ting society but sometimes beneficial in rehabilitating those within it, whether this rehabilitation is the result of deliberate empowerment or the instilling of a desire to avoid further punishment and the imposition of increased social pressures. Hopefully, readers will also put down these books with a stronger aim to avoid being incarcerated them selves, as well as a willingness to refrain from automatically labeling and prejudging any youthful offenders they might meet.
158 CHAPTER 5 TRIALS AND THEIR TRIBULATIONS: PERFORMANCES OF (IN)JUSTICE As the court proceedings begi n in Philip Pullmans The Scarecrow and His Servant (2004), Lord Scarecrow encourages Jack, [H]av e confidence in the law, my boy! Right is on our side! (184). Yet clearly right and the law are not always on the same side, either inside or outside of a courtroom, even in childrens literature. In Pullmans novel, justice ultimately prevails when Lord Scarec row, his servant Jack, and the birds are awarded joint possession of Spring Valley, than ks to the common sense of the jury. But Pullman still emphasiz es the bias and lunacy of a legal system in which the presiding judge is a relative of the defendants and so much legalese is spoken that no one, not even the lawyers and the judge, can disti nguish between genuine terms of law and creative mumbo jumbo. Like The Scarecrow and His Servant other well-known and even canonical works for children and young adults that include trial scenes focus on the absurdities and injustices of the law and legal systems. In Alices Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and The Wind in the Willows (1908), Lewis Carroll and Kenneth Grahame respectively satirize formal English court proceedings through the nonsensical trial of the Knave of Hearts, accused of stealing the queens tarts (Carroll 95-108), and the sentencing of Toad for stealing a car, driving recklessly, and, most seriously, cheeking the police (Grahame 142). In these fantasy novels, the injust ices almost go undetected amidst the ludicrousness of the court proceedings, but, in the more realistic novels, the biases of the court officers and jurors and the unfairness of many of their verdicts take center
159 stage. Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird (1960),1 Mildred D. Taylors Let the Circle Be Unbroken (1981), Walter Dean Myers Monster (1999), and Shelle y Pearsalls Crooked River (2005) all highlight racial prejudice in the American legal system, whereas Avis The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1990) describes the gender bias of Captain Jaggerty, the ships judge and prosecutor, a gainst Charlotte. Other works, like Mark Twains The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Kate Klises Trial by Jury Journal (2002), and Wick Downings The Trials of Kate Hope (2008), describe prosecutions against wrongfully accused social pari ahs of a low socioeconomic class. While each of these novels draws attent ion to an impairing oddity or a gross injustice that cripples a judi cial system, J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter series subjects its legal system to the most thorough examination, revealing the largest number of injustices, a pattern of judicial misconduct t hat extends through four leaders terms in office, and a heightened awaren ess of justice as a per formance. Of course, the Harry Potter series consists of seven books and includes several thousand more pages than any of the other novels discu ssed, providing Rowling far greater freedom than other authors in expanding plot lines and in exploring themes, but her decision to include so many scenes and references devoted to legal in justices merits our attention. Moreover, she clearly connects the judicial wrongdoings with quests for power and political stability within the Ministry of Magic, the British wizards gov ernment, with each successive administration further eroding its citizens legal rights, often ostensibly for the cause of heightened security. The resultant performanc es of justice become increasingly about 1 Unlike the other books discussed, To Kill a Mockingbird was not written specifically for a child or young adult audience, but I am including it in this discussion because it is required reading in many middle schools and high schools.
160 show rather than substance, as Rowling demonstrates through direct admissions by Ministry officials, tighter governmental c ontrol of the press, and, most importantly, memories of past trials viewed in Dumbledores pensieve. The pensieve, which allows individuals to experience other peoples memories, functions as a framing device that allows the performances of justice to be viewed both in Harry Potters time, as well as during the time in which they occurred, so that readers are able to see these performances simultaneously from se veral different perspectives. From any perspective, however, the list of judicial wrongdoing and errors in the wizarding world is a long one. Of all of the miscarriages of justice in Rowlings books, perhaps the most egregious are the wrongful incarcerations of at least three people Hogwarts gameskeeper, Rubeus Hagrid; Harrys godfather, Sirius Black; and Knight Bus conductor, Stan Shunpike2all of whom are sent to A zkaban, the wizards prison, without a trial. Voldemorts uncle, Morfin, and the house elf, Hokey, are also wrongfully convicted of murder, with Morfin endi ng his days in Azkaban. Buckbeak, an innocent hippogriff under a death sentence because of Dr aco Malfoys exaggerated injuries and his fathers influence with the governmen t, must be rescued ill egally by Harry and Hermione in order to survive. Barty Crouch Jr., though actually guilty of murder, is kissed by Dementors, the guards of Azk aban who possess the ability to remove ones soul with a kiss, before he is formally tried. Harry Potter himself is wrongfully prosecuted twice for breaking the Decree for the Reason able Restriction of Underage Sorcery, once when he is innocent and once when his actions ar e justified. Additionally, the Aurors, 2 Death Eaters (Voldemorts supporters) per form the Imperius Curse on Stan Shunpike in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, forcing him to behave as one of them, but, at the time of his incarceration in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince he is not a Death Eater, as even government officials admit.
161 the police of the wizarding world, have been granted leave to perform the normally illegal Unforgiveable Curses3 against suspects, even killing them. Deals are being cut with criminals in exchange for information, prosecutions and punishments are carried out selectively, and the Muggle-born Regist ration Commission is established to try and to incarcerate wizards and witches who cannot prove their pure blood status, i.e., an ancestry populated by other witches and wizard s rather than by Muggles (non-magical people).4 With a judicial system so clearly riddled with errors and human rights violations, it is hardly surprising that Rowling takes par ticular care in demonstrating how these injustices are the result of the Ministry of Ma gics greater interest in performative justice than in actual justice, an in stitutional failing that Rowl ing repeatedly condemns. Of course, all acts of justice are ultimately performative. As Dwight Conquergood explains, Justiceto paraphrase Victor Turnerlives only in performance, only in so far as its rituals are going concerns; Justice can be seen only when it is acted out. All the interlocking rituals of criminal punishment are performed so that citizens can see justice done: All of justice is a stage; it is the appearancethe ritualthat is the meaningful thing (343). Nevertheless, for Rowl ing, the ritual of justice assumes a new 3 The Unforgiveable Curses are the Imperius Curse, which places the victim under the spell casters control, the Cruciatus Curse, whic h physically tortures the victim, and Avada Kedavra, or Killing Curse. Harry Potter is the only person know n to survive t he Killing Curse. 4 In this paper, I am focusing on the Ministry of Magic s unjust dealings in trials and criminal matters. For a broader examination of wizarding laws and other lega l injustices executed by the wizards government, like their unfair treatment of other magical creatures, including house elves, centaurs, werewolves, giants, and merpeople, see Harry Potter and the Law, Texas Wesleyan Law Review 2005 by Timothy S. Hall et al, Kidlit as Law-and-Lit: Harry Potter and the Sc ales of Justice by William P. MacNeil, and Harry Potter and the Rule of Law: The Central Weakness of Legal Concepts in the Wizard World by Susan Hall.
162 and distasteful meaning when it is used as a th in veneer to conceal flagrant injustices and civil rights violations. Most of the other authors whose works feature courtroom scenes share Rowlings views about the performance of justic e. Myers writes a large part of Monster as a movie script, a genre that is desig ned to be performed, even as he critiques the performance of the system central to his script. Pullmans The Scarecrow and His Servant describes the ceremonial rituals of the court, even as it satirizes the proceedings, with the narrator noting the costumes and the processional order of the cour troom players (179-180). In To Kill a Mockingbird Miss Maudie compares Tom R obinsons trial to a Roman carnival (159), and, in Crooked River the prosecutor claims that the accuseds defense is merely a theatrical exhibition (163). The biases of some jurors are made immediately clear in Trial by Jury Journal and the judges in The Scarecrow and His Servant and Crooked River clearly attempt to influence the ju ries verdicts. Similarly, on board the Seahawk the main setting for Avis The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Charlottes trial is deemed a mere formality, only a nicety to be observed. As Captain Jaggerty announces at the onset of the proceedings, Cons idering the overwhelming evidence against the accused, it [a trial] neednt be held at all ( True 169-170), and the fact that he is actually the murderer himself further demonstr ates the mere sham of the show that he is about to stage. Obviously, most of the fictional tria ls feature negative portrayals of the performance of justice, in which actual just ice is seldom achieved. Even in the rare cases where readers may consider that ju stice is served, questions remain about whether the performative proceedings just ify the end result. The sheer number of
163 negative images of the judicial system in t hese novels can seem overwhelming, but, as Kimberley Reynolds points out, In the abs ence of new ways of thinking or creating alternatives to the way society works, wr iting for children may take up a diagnostic position, identifying problems as a first step towards formul ating solutions (Reynolds 14-15). Though the democratic system of justice is often praised, it is far from perfect, and these books provide examples of the multicultural door through which young readers can first observe some of the most common obstacles to achieving actual justice, like fear and prejudice. Then, afte r becoming aware of t hese obstacles and the negative effects that they can have on indivi duals, communities, and even nations, they will hopefully be motivated, both personally and communally, to take action and to prevent these obstacles from overriding the performance of actual justice. Towards this end, the first part of th is chapter examines the fear-driven deterioration of the judicial system in the Harry Potter series, focusing particularly on the importance of the pensieve as a performance device that teaches Harry and the readers how injustices build upon one another. The se cond part explores realistic novels that, like the Harry Potter books, reveal inadequacies of judicial systems, often by exploring events and community prejudices that are not featured in the courtr oom itself but are nevertheless influential behind the scenes. Inst ead of using a magical device, like the pensieve, these books emphasize the performativit y of justice through their portrayals of individual attorneys perform ances, through different narrative formats, and through the distancing effect of historic al fiction. Ultimately, of course, performativity cannot be avoided in a courtroom, but the performances should not overwhelm or consume the quest for justice that t hey are supposed to aid.
164 Peering into the Pensieve: Trials in the Harry Potter Series Rowling emphasizes the performative aspec ts of the legal system in many ways. She provides descriptions of dungeons in which trials take place (complete with chairs with chains to bind defendants), of biased and vindictive judges and prosecutors, who are often the same person, and of enthusiast ic courtroom audiences alternately seeking vengeance and acquittal. Yet she also demonstr ates to readers how the absence of a trial can be as much of a performance as a full trial before the entire Wizengamot, the highest wizards court in England. For exampl e, when Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, takes Hagrid to Azkaban simply because he was blamedagain wrongfullyfor opening the Chamber of Se crets and setting an unknown monster upon Hogwarts students during his school days, Fudge tells Du mbledore and Hagrid, Look at it from my point of viewIm under a lot of pressu re. Got to be seen to be doing something ( Chamber of Secrets 261; emphasis mine). Similarly, under the administration of the next Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour Mr. Weasley admits to Harry that Stan Shunpike and two other unnamed i ndividuals who were all arrested as suspected Death Eaters are probably innocent, adding, but the top level [of t he Ministry of Magic, for which he works] want to look as though theyre making some progress, and three arrests sounds better than three arrests and releases ( Half-Blood Prince 331). So Hagrid, Stan, and at least two other innocent people endure Azkaban in order to provide job security for Ministry o fficials and a sense of false sa fety for the wizarding public. Such counterfeit displays of justice are also featured as headlines in the press, especially as the Ministry increasingly pressures media sources to portray the government, its laws, and t heir application in a positive light. These command performances given by the press on the re commendation of the government obviously
165 interfere with a free presss role in preserving governmental integrity. Noel Chevalier notes, [T]he fact that the wizard press is so easily c ontrolled by the Ministry allows Rowling to blend Harrys persona l story with a wider critique of systems of authority that define the wizarding world and to raise the issues of political justice within a society defined by such rigid authoritarianism (400) The governmental aut horitarians are as terrified as they are rigid, afraid of both Voldemort and of exposur e before the wizarding public, so they compel the media to join them in projecting a faade of calm competence, lest their denial s and distortions of the tr uthand of justicebecome public knowledge. As significant as are both these public and private performances of justice, Rowlings invention of the pensieve as a device for storing, viewing, and framing memories, including memories of trial scenes, so that their effect s can be seen in both the past and the present, is the innovation that allows the performativity of justice to be viewed in a new vividness by child and teen readers. The pensieve itself is a shallow basinwith odd carvings around the edge: runes and symbols (Goblet of Fire 583), but what makes it unique is its ability to contai n the memories of individuals, which can be entered and experienced firsthand. The memory then becomes a performance, enacted for the viewers who enter through the pensie ve, as Harry, Dumbledore, and Rowlings readers do, and the performance re veals everything in the memory as it appeared to the person who first created the memory.5 Spectators in the pensi eve can make their own evaluations of the memories that they witness, but they c annot alter the contents of the 5 The pensieves storage and conveyance of memories also provides interesting considerations and connotations with both the unc onscious and historical memory.
166 memories in the pensieve, which appear as light made liquidor like wind made solid ( Goblet of Fire 583). However the memories look on the surfac e, a journey into them through the pensieve equips Harry with important kno wledge that enables him to fight more effectively against the Dark Lord Voldemor t. On these journeys through other peoples memories, he learns about Professor Trelaw neys prophecy, which led Voldemort to target Harry and his parents, and about Voldemorts ancestry and early life, which Harry uses to find the horcruxes that he needs to destroy before co nfronting Voldemort.6 Scenes observed in the pensieve also cause Ha rry to rethink some of his most deeply held beliefs. For example, after reliving Se verus Snapes memories of being bullied by Harrys father and godfather when they were all students at Hogwarts, Harry has to accept that even his heroes are flawed. Likewise, when the memories that Snape bequeathes to Harry with his la st breaths absolve him of murder, intended assault, and lifelong service to Voldemort, while also re vealing a deep love for Harrys own mother, Harry must see the man whom he has alwa ys hated from an entirely new perspective. Clearly, the importance of the pensieve as a conduit of memories in the Harry Potter series cannot be understated. Its significance is highlighted not only by its connection to these life (and story) altering revelations but also by its bei ng the first object that Harry notices as he enters the Headmasters office after defeating Voldemort ( Deathly Hallows 747). 6 Professor Trelawneys prophecy pr edicted that Voldemort could be killed only by a child born in July whose parents had escaped Voldemort on three occasions and whom Voldemort would make his equal. Fearing such a person, Voldemort attempted to kill Harry murdering his parents as they tried to stop him, and unintentionally giving Harry his sc ar, the mark of their equality ( Order of the Phoenix 841-843). The horcruxes that Harry must destroy ar e pieces of Voldemorts soul that he broke off from his whole soul through acts of murder and then placed within objects of personal significance.
167 In addition to these memories that hav e a deeply personal impact on Harry, the first memories that Harry actually witnesses in the pensieve are recollections of three trials conducted shortly after the first fall of Voldemort more t han 10 years before Harry sees them. By revealing these memories of legal injustices through the same device as the other integral (and o ften more personal) memories, Rowling emphasizes the importance of exposing the corruptions and in justices committed by the Ministry of Magic. Indeed, the pensieve illuminates previous miscarriages of justice and reveals the ways in which the misjudgments of the past can impact the present. As a site for illumination, the pensie ve does more than just provide new information. In fact, William P. MacNeil claims that very li ttle new knowledge is actually gleaned from the visit into Dumbledores recollections of the trials of Igor Karkaroff, Ludo Bagman, and Barty Crouch Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000).7 In discussing these scenes, MacNeil observes, [n]ot hing startling here, at least in causal terms of who?, what?, or why?, all of which points to a thematic rather than structural, function for the pensieves trial sc enes in the narrative as a whole (MacNeil 548; italics in original). While I was perhaps initially more startled by some of the pensieves revelations than was MacNeil, I do agree that the information presented firsthand in the pensieve could have been provided through secondhand accounts, a common way for Rowling to get certain fact s, including information about judicial practices and laws, to her readers, such as when Professor McGonagall deduces that 7 When MacNeils article was published, only the first f our books in the series were on the market, and the pensieve does not appear until the fourth book, so he had no way of knowing how Rowling would make use of the pensieve as a purveyor of knowledge in th e later books. That being said, I still think that there is some new factual knowledge provided in the pensieves trial scenes in Book 4 as well.
168 Willy Widdershins turned over information about Dumbledores Army to the Ministry in exchange for a dismissal of the charges against him ( Order of the Phoenix 613-614). Instead, Rowling makes a deliberate choi ce to depict the courtroom scenes through the pensieve, and, by doing so, she enables the pensieve to function as a framing device, as well as a screen on whic h memories are played. Victor Turner explains the importance of the fram ing process, saying, It is often reflexive, in that, to frame, a group must cut out a piece of itself for inspection (and retrospection). To do this it must createby rules of excl usion and inclusiona bordered space and a privileged time within which im ages and symbols of what has been sectioned off can be relived, scrutinized, assessed, reval ued, and, if need be, remodeled and rearranged (266; italics in original). Through the pens ieve, Rowling creates this bordered space and [. .] privileged time (Tur ner 266) where individuals, bot h inside and outside of the pensieve, can restructure their notions about the characters and about the role of the judicial system in the wizardi ng worldand, ideally, in our own world as well. After all, as Perry Nodelman explains, i n the act of reading fanta sy, experiencing something clearly and completely different from ourse lves, we become acutely aware of who and what we are (qtd in Doughty 256). Seei ng the differences between the characters world and our own, between thei r judicial system and ours, can help us to see the similarities as well, an aspect of the dist ancing effect that is commonly used in both fantasy fiction and historical fiction.8 Of course, all trials offer some framewor k for the viewing of an event, and scholars such as Richard Harbinger and Lucy Winner ex amine this framework in comparison to 8 The distancing effect, particularly in regard to historical fiction, is discussed in more detail in Chapter Three.
169 the framework of a drama, si nce all legal proceedings cont ain elements of performance. Harbinger describes every trial as consisti ng of both a play within and a play without (122), explaining, That as pect of the trial which I have denominated the courtroom drama (the play without) stages the legal combat between the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney. That aspect which I have denominated the crime drama (the play within) tells the story of the alleged killin g by the defendant (Har binger 123) or the details of any other alleged crime. Winner builds upon Harbingers components of a dramatic trial, adding, The multiple layers of spectatorial pos itions in a trial range from witnesses to the alleged crime to the judge, the jury, and the audience in the courtroom, to the wider public, who view hear, or read about the spectacle of the trial. I see thes e as expanding framesfrom the inner frame around the story, crime, or injury, to the frame of t he trial, to a wider frame, which is the play without in which the wider public uses the trial as a way to consider a social issue, form opini ons, and organize its experience. (151; italics in original) Obviously, the trials as seen through the pensieve also have Harry and the readers as additionaland very belatedspectators, which is actually one of the pensieves most interesting features. Not only does it reveal Harbingers plays within and without (Harbinger 122), but it reveals Winners wider frame (Wi nner 151) as well, both at the time of the trials and at the time of Harrys attendance of them, over 10 years later, clearly portraying the long-terms effects of the wizards skewed distribution of justice. For example, in the first trial presented, Igor Karkaroff, an adm itted Death Eater, offers names of other Vold emort supporters in exchange for an early release from Azkaban. In a scene reminiscent of the McCarthy hearings or a negotiating session at a district attorneys office, Karkaroff volunteers six namesf our of Death Eaters already captured or killed, Severus Snape, whom we are told has already been cleared of such
170 charges through the testimony of Albus Dumbledore, and Augustus Rookwood, a Ministry employee in the Department of Mysteries ( Goblet of Fire 590). As in all of the trial scenes in the pensieve, the play without features Barty Crouc h Sr., the Head of the Department of Magical La w Enforcement, who acts as both judge and prosecuting attorney, and the defendant, who represents himself. The play within involves Karkaroffs activities as a Death Eater, al though no specifics are given in his case. Yet, in the wider frame of t he trials era, specifics were not needed. Everyone present at the trial and everyone who learned of the trial through the articles of The Daily Prophet reporter Rita Skeeter9 knew what atrocities t he Death Eaters had committed. Voldemorts followers engaged in torture, murder, and the formation of armies of dementors, giants, and even Inferi (possessed corpses), all in an attempt to cleanse the wizarding world of all but its pure blood members. As a r eaction against this reign of terror, most wizards and witches merely wanted leaders who would eradicate any and all remnants of this brutal chapter of history, and they did not care what measures the government took, as long as they felt more secure. A decade later, Harry and the readers can bring some hindsight, as well as emotional distance, to this judicial spectacl e. They know that, since his release from Azkaban, Karkaroff has become the headmaster of Durmstrang, one of Hogwarts rival schools, where he supposedly undertakes the teaching of the Dark Arts.10 Yet they are 9 The Daily Prophet is the main source of public information within the wizarding world. Witch Weekly Magazine and The Quibbler are two other publications mentioned, but neither of them is credited as being a legitimate source of news. Despite its many articles revealing bias and misinformation, The Daily Prophet remains the most respected media outlet, which is perhaps why both the Ministry of Magic and Voldemort work so hard to control it. 10 When Voldemort returns in bodily form, Karkaroff flees, knowing that, after turning states evidence against the Death Eaters, his life is in danger, and, indeed, his body is found a year later.
171 also more sensitive to the fact that the in formation given under the circumstances of this hearing may not be trustworthy. After all, if Karkaroff is not able to provide valuable information to the court, t hen he will endure a longer stay in Azkaban under the guard of the dementors, creatures whom Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Remus Lupin, describes as being among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them ( Prisoner of Azkaban 187). Faced with such a threat, a person may incriminate almost anyone. Indeed, the only proof that Harry and the readers see of the freshl y implicated Rookwoods complicity with Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire comes from the next trial observed, in which another defendant links Rookwood with the Death Eaters. (In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Rookwood puts the final seal on his guilt when he rejoins the Death Eaters after breaking out of Azkaban.) Additionally, in terms of Winners wider frame, Harry and the readers know that the information di spensed to the public through the media is possibly compromised, either by yellow journalism, embodied by the loathsome reporter, Rita Skeeter, or by the Ministry of Magics interference with the press. Publicity is certainly a determining fact or in the second trial, which stars Ludo Bagman, a champion Quidditch player. Presumably as a result of the Ministrys followup on Karkaroffs tip about Rookwood, Bagman is charged with providing information to Rookwood and consequently to Voldemort. Bagman concedes the charge but claims ignorance about Rookwoods a llegiance to Voldemort ( Goblet of Fire 592-593). Because of his celebrity status, Bagmans tr ansgressions are treated lightly, at least by everyone but Crouch Sr. When Crouch Sr. re commends that Bagman serve a stint in
172 Azkaban, the audience is outraged, not necessarily because they believe that Bagman was truly ignorant of what he was doing but be cause they do not want to lose a popular and valuable athlete on the Quidditch field. In the public mindset, Bagmans athletic prowess and fame outperform Crouch Sr.s cour troom dramatics, and, not surprisingly, given the angry outcry from the surr ounding benches at Crouch Sr.s suggested sentence, no one on the jury moves to convict ( Goblet of Fire 592).11 Thus, the first two trials witnessed in the pensieve reveal the use of informants and the influence of celebrity as possible impediments to justice, stumblin g blocks that occur in the real world, as well as in the wizar ding world. The trial of Barty Crouch Jr. and three other suspected Death Eaters is even more fraught with judicial errors. This courtroom drama pits father against son when Barty Crouch Jr. and his co-defendants stand accused of torturing Frank and A lice Longbottom, the parents of Harrys classmate, Neville, into ins anity with the Cruciatus Curse, supposedly in the hopes of obtaining information about t he defeated Voldemorts where abouts. The trial functions as little more than an opportunity for Crouch Sr. to publicly denounce his son, spewing hatred and venom towards the barely grown child whom he believes has ruined his political ambitions, while Crouch Jr. protests his innocence and begs for mercy that his father will not grant ( Goblet of Fire 594-596). Not surprisingly, given his fathers desire to profit politically from his harsh attitudes towards Death Eaters, Crouch Jr. and the ot hers receive life sentences in Azkaban. Right after this pivotal mom ent, the memory of the trial is disrupted by Dumbledores 11 Later, Bagman will join the Ministry of Magic and become the Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports. He is a heavy gambler who cheats to cover his debts, so readers learn that he is dishonest, but we never learn whether or not he was telling the truth during his trial.
173 gently extracting Harry from the pensieve, but Sirius Black provides an ending to the story, actually even before Harry sees the trial in the pensieve. Sirius tells Harry, Ron, and Hermione that Crouch Jr. died a year into his sentence, adding, Once the boy had died, people started f eeling a bit more sympathetic to ward the son and started asking how a nice young lad from a good family had gone so badly astray. The conclusion was that his father never cared much for him ( Goblet of Fire 529-530). After the threat of Crouch Jr. is removed by his death and the pub lic has had more time to process their feelings about Voldemorts reign and its s upposed end, the wider fr ame of the trial begins to shift. People are able to feel r egret and even pity for the young Voldemort supporter, an emotion that was impossible for them at the time of Crouch Jr.s trial, when public feeling was entirely on the side of his father. Now, as Crouch Sr. is passed over for the job of Minister of Magic, it is not entirely clea r whether his sons crime or his response to that crime has caused him to lose the position that he coveted. As Robert A. Ferguson observes, Those who conduct a tr ial are always on trial themselves (xiii), and neither the son nor the fat her could be wholly absolved of guilt in the public eye. Yet Harry at least appears to have doubts about the younger Crouchs guilt, asking both Sirius and Dumbledore if they think that he might be innocent. Sirius replies, The boy was definitely caught in the company of people Id bet my lif e were Death Eaters but he might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, just like the house-elf ( Goblet of Fire 528). (Sirius is referring to Winky, the elder Crouchs house-elf, who was caught holding the wand that conjured the Dark Mark, Voldemorts sign, in the sky above the World Cup Tournament, a transgre ssion for which Crouch Sr. dismissed
174 her.12) Dumbledore too tells Harry that he has no idea about whether or not Crouch Jr. was involved in the tort uring of the Longbottoms ( Goblet of Fire 603). He prefaces this statement, saying, The attacks on them came after Voldemorts fall from power, just when everyone thought they were safe. Those attacks caused a wave of fury such as I have never known. The Ministry was under gr eat pressure to catch those who had done it. Unfortunately the Longbottoms evidenc e wasgiven their conditionnone too reliable ( Goblet of Fire 603). With apparently no substantial evidence, t he kind of high-pressure stakes that often lead the Ministry of Magic into flawed judicial decision making, and the fact that Crouch Jr. is the only defendant seen in the pens ieve who insists on his innocence, it is easy to think that the Ministry has made another mistake and that Crouch Jr. is yet another victim of wrongful incarc eration, like Hagrid and Sirius.13 In this case, though, the Ministry actually arrested the right person. At the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Crouch Jr. turns up alive, having been masquerading all year at Hogwarts as Mad-Eye Moody, a retired Auror and current De fense Against the Dark Arts professor. Under the administration of Veritaserum, a truth telling potion, by Dumbledore, Crouch Jr. describes his removal from Azkaban by his father,14 his conspiracy with Voldemort 12 Dismissing Winky is a cruel act, like sentencing her to transportation. By giving her clothes, Crouch Sr. frees her, permanently severing her connections wi th his family, and, while some house-elves, like Dobby, may yearn to be free, Winky considers freedom and unemployment to be disgraceful states for house-elves. 13 At this point in the series, Hagrid and Sirius are the only wrongfully incarcerated people presented. 14 The dying request of the younger Crouchs mother was for her husband to help her to switch places with her son, so that she died in Azkaban, and he was free. Out of love for his wife, Crouch Sr. agreed, believing that he could keep his son hidden and under the control of the illegal Imperius Curse. He succeeded for a number of years until he was over powered by his son and Wormtail, another Death Eater, and subjected to the Imperius Curse himself before his death.
175 and a fellow Death Eater, the mu rder of his father, and his plans to deliver Harry to Voldemort. Clearly, Crouch Jr. is no innocent after all. Nevertheless, Rowling wants her readers to at least entertain, if not believe in, the possibility of his innocence throughout most of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Of course, this possibility heightens the suspense and the disbelief at the end of the novel. More importantly for Rowlings theme of (in)justice, though, it raises the question of whether the right resultsthe incarceration of the guilty par tyjustify the Ministrys s hoddy trial work. If readers can condone the judicial (not to mention familial) bias and the lack of credible evidence in the younger Crouchs case because he was guilty, then how can they be upset when the same judicial tactics lead to wrongful ve rdicts against Hagrid, Si rius, Stan Shunpike, and others? Not only does Rowling use the trial scenes from the pensieve to ask whether readers are willing to sacrifice justice for se curity, as do the wizardsand the rest of usso often, but she also begins to demons trate, through the memories of the past trials, how injustices build upon one another. Following the three trials viewed in the pensieve, in which issues of truth and fa irness become increasin gly murky, Rowling presents two more courtroom scenes under two di fferent administrations in the Ministry of Magic. Each of these trials occurs in the present day setting of the story, and each shows a greater manipulatio n of the law by those intended to protect it. First, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry is tried before the entire Wizengamot for the normally minor crime of violating the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcer y. Thanks to the interventions of
176 Dumbledore, who introduces himself to the court as a witness but proceeds to act as Harrys attorney, Harry is acquitted afte r Dumbledore calls Mrs. Figg, a witness who corroborates Harrys story of using magic onl y as a necessary defense in order to repel the dementors who were attacking hi m and his Muggle cousin, Dudley.15 (This sudden appearance of Dumbledore as counseleven uno fficiallyand the calling of a defense witness, events that do not happen in any of t he other trial scenes, also reveal the lack of consistency within the wizards judicial sys tem as a whole. Rowling never establishes clear guidelines about all of the defendants rights, like the right to counsel or the right to a trial by jury.) Despite Mrs. Figgs testim ony that Harry was ce rtainly justified in breaking the law, Cornelius Fudge, the Mini ster of Magic and the presiding judge, continues to discredit Harry for his own political agenda, pushing for a conviction regardless of Harrys legal culpability in this matter. Indeed, Fudge even dredges up one of Harrys past transgressions (admittedl y, one of many)blowi ng up his Muggle Aunt Margealthough Fudge had previously declined to prosecute Harry for this offense. But now Harry is claiming that Voldem ort has returned to human form, an event that would (and does) obliterat e all stability in the wizar ding world, along with Fudges political capital, so Fudge must destroy Harrys credibility in order to save the office that he loves, even if it means taking some liber ties with the law. As Dumbledore informs him in front of the Wizengamot, The ministry does not have the pow er to expel Hogwarts students, Cornelius, as I reminded you on the night of the second of August [when the alleged crime occurred] Nor does it have the right to confiscate 15 The witness for Harry, Mrs. Figg, is a Squib (a person of wizarding parents who cannot perform magic herself), and Fudge challenges her on these grounds, wanting to know her parentage and whether or not Squibs can see dementors ( Order of the Phoenix 145). In the disrespect that Fudge shows Mrs. Figg, more of the general wizarding communitys prejud ice against those who are not competent, pure-blood wizards and witches is revealed.)
177 wands until charges have been successfully proven, again, as I reminded you on the night of the se cond of August. In your admirable haste to ensure that the law is upheld, you appear, inadvertently I am sure, to have overlooked a few laws yourself. ( Order of the Phoenix 149) When overlooking laws does not accomplis h Fudges aims, he begins to change the laws instead, making Dolores Umbridge the High Inquisitor of H ogwarts and thereby giving her power over both Dumbledore an d Harry, so that she can do her best to muzzle and discredit both of them. Fudges tactics of editing or entirely rewrit ing the law to suit his own purposes are also employed by Umbridge and by Voldemort and his puppet Minister of Magic, Pius Thickenese,16 all of whom shatter and then remake the law in ways that Fudge could never imagine. With the creation of the Muggle-born Registration Commission in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007), being a Muggle-born witch or wizard actually becomes a crime, a theft of magical ability from a pure-blood witch or wizard, rather than a mere political or social liability. Conjuring up images of documentation boards that are often created before an ethnic segregation or genoc ide, like the internment camps for Japanese Americans and the ghettos and concentration camps for European Jews during World War II, the wizards commissi on ostensibly tries people on the basis of their heritage, although, of course, no defense offered by a targeted person is acceptable. The goal is the removal of the undesirables from society, and the measures of enforcement are nearly as extreme as the goal, since dementors herd the Muggle-borns into Azkaban and Umbridge threat ens those who resist with a dementors kiss. 16 Voldemort controls Thickenese through the Imperiu s Curse, manipulating his actions both before and during his tenure as Minister of Magic.
178 The horror of the situation is both read ily apparent and in k eeping with Voldemorts legacy of terror, but the legalit y of this atrocity emerges as a new tool in Voldemorts arsenal. Instead of threatening and torturing Muggle-borns on the st reets or in their homes as he and his Death Eaters did previ ously, Ministry officials can now assume these duties for them wit hin the very walls of the Ministry itself, granting an official sanction to the acts and even an illusion of fairness to the hearings. Thus, Voldemort is able to remove himself from the proceedings completely, while certain officials at the Ministry, Death Eaters and non-Death Eaters a like, carry out the wo rk of their shared mission of preserving a pure-blooded legacy. At long last, Umbridge, the despicable head of the Muggle-born Registration Commission whom Rowling never names as a Death Eater but who definitely shares their ideals, is, as Harry notes, in her element, upholding the twisted laws she had helped to write ( Deathly Hallows 259). Indeed, justice and the laws become more twisted with each successive administration of the Ministry of Magi c, prompting Harryand presumably readersto wonder why the British wizards cannot obt ain better leadership. When Scrimgeour, the Minister before Thickenese, approaches Ha rry about becoming a poster boy for the Ministry, Harry reminds him of Stan Shunpik es incarceration, saying, Youre doing what Barty Crouch did. You never get it right, you people, do y ou? Either weve got Fudge, pretending everythings lovely whil e people get murdered right under his nose, or weve got you, chucking the wrong people into jail and trying to pretend youve got the Chosen One17 working for you ( Half-Blood Prince 346-347). Admittedly, each 17 The Chosen One is what The Daily Prophet began calling Harry after it became clear that he was telling the truth about Voldemorts return, reflecting t he belief of many in the wizarding community that Harry is destined to defeat Voldemort.
179 leader is governing under increasingly strained and frightening circumstances, which cause them to take extreme m easures to protect either them selves or their constituents, but these extremes often lead to injustices. And they can dismiss these injustices as necessary collateral damage, as Sc rimgeour does with Stan and Fudge does with Hagrid and Sirius, because they can justify the injustices historically, at least to themselves. After all, they have established precedents for their decisions, set by past leaders, beginning with Barty Crouch Sr. in the seri es and probably extending farther back to earlier government officials. Each new leader c opies the judicial mistakes of the past, magnifying the potential for wrong decisions and wrongful in carcerations, but they do not truly learn from the past as Rowling expects Harry and readers to do from the pensieve. In this way, Rowli ng contrasts the leaders fear with the illumination offered by the memories shown in the pensieve, memories which lead Harry and readers to question the past and to gain insights that allo w them to realize that the judicial wrongdoings committed then actually did very little to make the wizarding world safer, perhaps even making the future now the presentmore unsure. Although the leaders of the wizarding world do not learn from t he pastat least in any positive waythey nevertheless seek to re turn to it, as do many other leaders and communities in childrens books that invo lve unjust trials. Ferguson explains the objectives of any trial, stating, We tend to forget that trials perform m any different functions at once. Most conspicuously, they resolve conflict, protect the innocent, punish the guilty, compensate for injury, and declare the law. But they also satisfy revenge, purge communal resentments, assign limits to deviance, identify acceptable otherness, give victims a say, rationalize change, place controls on the unknown, and publicize power. At still another level, they publicize the
180 available answers to a problem and guard the status quo ante by seeking to return a community to its place bef ore the disruption of crime. (19) Focusing on this last function of the tria l, the complicated and diverse motives of the various Ministers of Magic and other high Ministry officials who imitate and build upon former subversions of justice can all be reduc ed to their most basic point: a fear of the world as it currently is and may be becom ing. Crouch Sr., Fudge, and Scrimgeour all want to return to a pre-Voldemort worl d, which has been idealized as a far more innocent time, whereas Voldemort and Umbr idge seek a more distant past when Salazar Slytherin was alive and breaking off from the other Hogwarts founders to educate only wizards and witches of pure-blood heritage and ability. The miscarriages of justices that they each enact are undertaken as attempts to crush the present and to resurrect some version of the past. In Place of the Pensieve: Trials in Realistic Fiction Similar attempts to crush the present and to resurrect th e past are found in most of the realistic novels that contain tria ls as well, where courtroom dramas are staged in order to allow the loca l citizenry an opportunity to regain a sense (or illusion) of personal and communal safety. The defendants are on trial not only for a specific criminal offense but alsoand perhaps more seriouslyfor dev iating from the social norms of the communities judging them. The courtroom pl ayers and the communities in which they live are afraid of losing the upper hand against others, like the defendants, and of the changes in gender, race, and class relations that these defendants represent. Again, fear cripples the judicial system, and justice becomes merely a reflective performance of a communitys outrage and resistance to change rather than a performance of meaningful and substantive justice.
181 The courtrooms may function as a mirro r ofand a conduit forthe prejudices and fears of individuals and communities in t hese realistic works, but the structure and integrity of the judi cial system itself is never put on trial. When the system fails, individual and community biases, often acco mpanied by the presentation of false or unreliable testimony or manufac tured evidence, are to blame, not the legal institution itself. Nevertheless, these books teach readers that the workings of the judicial system are largely dependent upon citizen involvemen t, so a few people can compromise the institution, at least of the level of individual cases. Even Rowlings Harry Potter series, which presents a pattern of increasingly unfair judicial proceedings, does not acknowledge institutional failure. Instead, the injustices are laid at the feet of inept, misguided, or corrupt leaders within the Ministry of Magic. The soundness of the existing system is further endorsed when the Order of the Phoenix maintains the same governmental structure after t he fall of Voldemort. Rather than creating new institutions, they choose new leaders, people whom they believe truly understand how to serve justice. None of the realistic novels implem ents new judicial leadership, which is not really necessary since most of the j udges in these works do not appear to be as influenced by community outcry as are the leaders of the wizarding world, though the prejudices of jurors are reveal ed in a number of the cases. But all of these works, both fantastic and realistic, remi nd readersfuture voters, juro rs, and members of the legal communityof the potentia l power of the individ ual in the courtroom. Despite this recent spate of childrens books about trials, strong courtroom performances of justice, meaningful or otherwise, are scarce in childrens books from the 1800s, where trial scenes are rare, brief, and significantly less developed than their
182 counterparts in books published in the next c entury and beyond. Indeed, the trial scenes are sometimes only described through secondhand testimony, and none of the books places justiceor at least earthly justiceat the heart of its story. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that the defendants rema in cast as community outsiders. For example, in Caroline Chesebros The Poachers Sons (1879), a poor, shiftless (and guilty) poacher is on trial for shooting a gameskeeper who was trying to apprehend him, but the only reference made to his trial is when Robert Sandhurst informs his younger brother, Ritchie, about his appearance before t he magistrate to answer questions about their fathers whereabouts on the night in question. Similarly, the trial and the sentencing of two innocent boys, one of whom is an adopted villager and one of whom is a Native American, in Clara Guernseys The Silver Cup (1865) is described in five sentences. As the narrator explai ns, My space forbids me to lin ger over this part of the story [the boys pre-trial incarceration], or over the trial, which took place in three weeks from the time of the arrest (Guernsey 224), but no other justification for these crucial missing scenes in a 316 page book is given. In Twains The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Charlotte Mary Yonges The Trial: More Links of the Daisy Chain (1868), readers respectively accompany two more innocent outcasts, Muff Potter, the town drunkard, and Leonard Ward, a newcomer to Vintry Mills into the courtrooms. These brief courtroom scenes are pivotal to the novels plots since Toms taking the witness stand heightens his respectability in St. Pete rsburg and leads to Muffs freedom, whereas Leonard is convicted at the end of his trial. But the pithy trial scenes are almost lost in the midst of Twains adventures and Yonges moral lessons of divine justice and servitude.
183 Similarly, in contemporary works of historic al fiction set in England but published in America, like Avis The Traitors Gate (2007), Ian Lawrences The Convicts (2005), Karen Schwabachs The Pickpockets Tale (2008) and Eleanor Updales Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? (2005), only brief descriptions of courtrooms and summaries of trials appear. There are not any actual enactments of tria ls. Updales Montmorency comments on the atmosphere at the trial of his former cellm ate, Freakshow, noting that the courtroom was as cramped as the oper a house with a greater variety and strength of human smells, and the same air of theatrical excitement (140). But even in this murder trial that has garn ished huge amounts of public in terest, the proceeding are merely described, so that they appear m undane and almost tedious. Perhaps because, as Mr. Tuckum explains to John in The Traitors Gate The lawin its eloquence does not allow a defendant to speak on his own behalf ( Traitors 194; italics in original), trial scenes from this era in Britis h history are perceived as lacking in drama by todays standards. Or perhaps boo ks that focus on British tria ls, either in historical fiction or in realistic, cont emporary fiction, simply do not get published in the American market. Indeed, the American publicat ion of books that featur e well-developed American trials for children and adolescents did not ta ke off until the release of Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), which coincided with the ri se of realism in childrens and especially young adult liter ature. The performances of justic e in the courtrooms of these realistic novels put forth examples of wrongful accusations and convictions, discrimination, sexism, classi sm, and racism. Yet the books also take care to note that these injustices would not occur so frequently in the courtrooms if they were not
184 tolerated, condoned, or even encouraged by the communities that the courts serve, and they suggest that, if characters (and readers) can learn to question and to conquer their prejudices and fears of the ot her, then performances of ju stice could result in the distribution of actual ju stice far more often. Of course, some elements of a trial will always be performa tive in an adversarial court system. The attorneys for both sides pr esent their versions of the crime, the witnesses testify to what they know about the event, the defendant faces his accusers, and the judge presides over the proceedings. Unfortunately or not, the performances and the presentations of all of the courtroom players impact the outcome of the trial, and, since experienced courtroo m players know this, they try to use the performances to their advantage. Sometimes the element s of the performance are subtle. For example, Mr. Jamison, the white lawyer for T.J., the African Amer ican defendant on trial for murder in Mildred D. Taylors Let the Circle Be Unbroken (1981) asks the Logan family not to attend T.J.s trial because he does not want the jury to connect his client with radical African Americ ans who have boycotted the loca l store that is owned by a Night Rider. Mr. Jamison, a fr iend of the Logan family, also assures them that he and Mr. Macabee, the prosecutor, have agreed not to discuss the events following the murder at trial, so the people in the courtroom will not know about either the Logan childrens helping T.J. to return home after the murder or t he attempted lynching of T.J. by white men in the community ( Let the Circle 38). Other times the performance is more blatant, such as when a group of townsmen pa int Amiks (or Indian Johns) face with grease and soot in Shelley Pearsalls Crooked River (2005), so that he will look more savage and menacing at his murder trial and be more likely to be convicted (114).
185 In Walter Dean Myerss Monster and Wick Downings The Trials of Kate Hope readers learn how at least two lawyers plan their performance strategies. Steve Harmon, the sixteen year old Af rican American protagonist in Monster is facing capital charges for felony murder,18 and he is trying desperately to incorporate this reality into his identity as he uses his journal and his movie script of his trial to figure out who he is. Miss OBrien, his defense attorney, seems on ly mildly interested in finding out who Steve really is, but she is very concerned with who he appears to be in court. Discussing his relationship with James King, his co-defendant, Miss OBrien tells Steve, Youre going to have to break the link [between you]. Hes sitting there looking surly. Maybe he thinks hes tough, I dont know. I do k now that youd better put some distance between yourself and whatever being a tough guy represents. You need to present yourself as someone the jurors can believe in ( Monster 215-216; emphasis mine). In order to help Steve accomplish this task, Mi ss OBrien reviews his testimony with him, developing a game in which she turns over a Styrofoam cup w henever she does not approve of Steves answer, and Stev e visualizes the position of the cup as he testifies in court. Like Miss OBrien, Kate Hope focuses on how she can use witnesses performances on the stand to improve her case. Kate is a fourteen y ear old lawyer in Colorado in 1973,19 and she is trying her first solo ca se on behalf of Herman, a large 18 The United States Supreme Court ruling in Roper v. Simmons in 2005 made it unconstitutional to execute individuals who committed their crimes while under 18 years of age, so Steve Harmon would not be tried on capital charges today. 19 In the Authors Note, Downing, who is an attorney as well as a writer, states that though thered have been hurdles to clear, it would have been possible for a f ourteen-year-old girl to practice law in Colorado in 1973 (324). Because the original requirements to practice law as stated in the Revised Statutes of Colorado, 1867 which did not include any age restrictions, had never been specifically repealed in 1973,
186 dog that has been wrongfully accused of atta cking and biting a baby. From watching her grandfather, who is also her mentor and her law partner, exaggerate his age and his feeble health for the benefit of the jury in an earlier case, Kate learns the importance of performance at a trial, and she follows her grandfat hers lead, producing a manufactured spring in [her] step and call[i ng] [her]self Pumpkin to bring on the glow that would make herand Hermanmore attr active to the jury (Downing 238). She also allows her grandfathers voice in her head to coach her through her performance as an attorney, so that she in turn can get the witnesses to perform in a certain way on the stand. For example, even though she is dreading it, Kate must cross-examine Ron Benson since he claims to have witnessed the attack on the baby. Once she has him on the stand, she deliberat ely riles Ron, a local football hero and the boyfriend of the injured babys au pair, because she knows that he cannot bear being challenged, especially by girls. She begins: In my best If you dont understand, just ask me voice, I asked Ron if hed seen the dog today that had done this awfu l thing. Yes, he said, ready to explode, and leveling a stare at me that no doubt would have terrified a lineman on the opposi ng football team. You and Herman arent really buddies, are you, Mr. Benson? You mean, do I like that dog? he demanded snarling at me. Would I want that animal in my house? Around my children if I had any? I started to object. Dont Grampas voice said. Hes close to helping you Actually, I meant that ev ery time hes seen you this morning, hes acted aggressively. You understand what I mean by aggressively, dont you? Yes, I know what you mean! Ron said, his neck all swollen and red and then he seemed to catch himself. (D owning 266; italics in original) Kate could indeed practice law as she is a person of good moral character who had studied law for the requisite numbers of years and had passed her qualifying examination (Downing 325-327).
187 Before Ron manages to catch himself, t hough, Kate exposes an angry side of his personality, discrediting his character and soft ening the effects of his testimony against Herman. While performances like those staged by Miss OBrien and Kate exemplify elements of Harbingers play without, they do not necessarily allow for the entirety of Harbingers play within, let alone Winners wider frame, to be told. As the novels repeatedly inform readers, sometimes thr ough their formats and sometimes through their texts, the entir e story of a crime and its aftereffects, both on individuals and on communities, is too large, too complex, and too nuanced to be condensed into a trial. Ferguson agrees, explaining, A legal narrati ve declares itself [usually in a verdict]; nonlegal narratives question those declarations The contrasts are striking but also necessary. People will always require more than official writings to understand what they want to know about a trial (26). All of the novels offer more informat ion and insights into the crime and its community setting than any official writings of the trials set within them would. Even in Harry Potter the trial scenes in the pensieve, t hough each tells a story, only achieve a larger meaning and significance because of t he knowledge that Harry and the readers accumulate through other events and sources. But the unus ual narrative formats of three of the novels particularly stress the limitations of a trial in being able to tell the entire story of a criminal event. First, in Monster Myers alternates between a typed movie script of the trial that Steve is writing and Steves personal, handwritten journal, which describes his current life in prison, as well as his re collections of events before the robbery and murder. Through his journal entries, reader s gain empathy for Steve,
188 regardless of how they feel about his guilt or innocence,20 and they see the humanity that so rarely surfaces in Steves cinematic ve rsion of his trial. Of course, it is important to remember that, within the parameters of the novel, Stev e is equally responsible for the content of the f ilm script and the journal entries and the script, intended to be a performance piece about the American criminal justice system, could obviously be biased. Nevertheless, by juxtaposing the film script and the journal entries, Myers creates a jarring dissonance between the trial scenes and Steves in terior life that leaves the court appearing harsh, sterile, and indifferent to the people who appear before it. Similarly, in Crooked River Pearsall describes the tria l of Amik and the events leading up to his trial in tw o different formats, although, un like Myers, she also employs two different narrators. Amik, a member of the Chippewa or t he Ojibbeway tribe, comments on his captivity and mu rder trial in Ohio in 1812 in free verse, and Rebecca, a thirteen year old white girl whose father is holding Amik as a prisoner in their attic, uses prose to relate her changing opinions of Amik and the racist town in which she lives. Both Amik and Rebecca provide reader s with information that is deliberately lied about or omitted in court, such as the murder of Amiks friend by the white men who were hunting them and the fact that the feather supposedly left by Amik near the murdered trappers body was actually tak en from him in Rebeccas attic. Through Rebecca and Amik, readers learn the truth of Amiks innocence and the towns guilt, and they can feel relief when Amik, aided secr etly by Rebecca, as well as by a horrific thunder storm, manages to escape the gallows. 20 Myers never directly informs readers of Steves guilt or innocence, so readers are able to arrive at their own decisions about this matter.
189 In Klises Trial by Jury Journal sixth grader Lily Watson also helps an innocent man to avoid a death sentence. The books fo rmat moves the action of the trial almost entirely out of the c ourtroom and into Winners wider fr ame of public opinion, nearly negating the purpose of a courth ouse entirely. The novel, purportedly Lilys research paper about being the first juvenile juror in Missouri, contains newspaper clippings, radio show transcripts, Lilys journal, a jurors gossip column, another jurors autobiography, and a fourth jurors drawings, as well as collected pieces of evidence not introduced in court, like conspirators notes threats against the defense attorney, and bribes to jurors. All of these papers tell r eaders about the trial of Bob White, a poor, functionally illiterate outcast wrongfully accused of murdering Perry Keet, as well as about the actual kidnapping of Perry by Rhet t Tyle and Anna Conda. But readers learn about all of these happenings secondhand, eit her through Lily or through media coverage. They never accompany Lily into the courtroom, and the only direct testimony from the trial that they are privy to is one brief recording of Bob Whites crossexamination played [l]ive from the majestic studios of KTYLE atop Tyle-o-Polis in downtown Tyleville (Klise 182) Guilt and innocence are determined first by the press, admittedly manipulated by Rhett Tyle, the ri chest and most influential man in townas well as Perrys kidnapperand then through L ilys discoveries of new evidence. A verdict is never actually reached in court, underscoring the unimportance of the actual judicial institution in this story. The narrative formats of Trial by Jury Journal Crooked River and Monster all expose readers to truths and perspectives that remain hidden or repressed during their characters trials, but many of the realistic novels, including Crooked River explore the
190 theme of a trials limitations through their historical settings.21 Winner explains, As a play is often a mirror of its time, so is a tr ial. A public trial can f unction dramatically to reinforce prevailing notions and prejudices. In a different historical period, the trial transcript brings these prevailing notions and prejudices to light for later audiences to see (154). Without using a pensieve or even multiple-voice narrative formats, childrens works of historical fiction can reveal the community attitudes and prejudices that have contributed to so many of the problems and empty perform ances within the judicial system, both past and present, to a new gen eration. Furthermore, these stories emphasize the frequent inability or inadequacy of trials to deliver verdicts that are not in keeping with community norms. After all, a court system frequently reflects t he values and beliefs of the people that it serves. As Paul Berman points out, t rials provide a stage upon which conflicting points of view can be articulated and argued, fi nally creating a consensus narrative that attempts to unify the philosophical, political, or moral values of t he community (qtd in Winner 154). The problem is t hat this consensus narrative may not be just or even true. Ferguson notes that one of the numerous functions of a trial is to guard the status quo ante (19), and sometimes the community and the court that represents it sacrifice an individual for the sake of the st atus quo and the consensus narrative. One of the most famous sacrifices to the status quo and the consensus narrative in American literature occurs in Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird when Tom Robinson, an African American defendant, is wrongfully found guilty of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman, in Maycomb, Alabama, in 1935. There is no direct evidence 21 For more information on historically based books, also known as works of historical fiction, see Chapter Three.
191 against Tom, and the characters of the star wit nesses against him are easily impugned. Yet the jury finds Tom guilty because it is easie r for them to do so t han it is for them to question their long held beliefs about the danger s that black men hold for white women. Moreover, even if they do not truly believe that Tom is guilty of rape, they know, by his own admission, that he is guilt y of having the unmitigated te merity to feel sorry for a white woman (Lee 204), and, fo r people who have little else bes ides skin color to justify their feelings of superiority, Toms pity to wards one of their own superior race is an unthinkable and unforgiveable emotion. Legally guilt y or not, he must be removed from their midst, lest he damage any more of t heir ideals and illusions or encourage other African Americans to do the same. By c ontrasting the courtroom verdict and the communitys general endorsement of it with what the readers re cognize as an injustice, To Kill a Mockingbird presents the argument that the forces that motivate society are not consonant with the democratic ideals embedded in its legal system and that the disjunction between the codes men and wo men profess and those they live by threatens to unravel individual lives as well as the social fabric (Johnson 129). Unfortunately, individuals who are livin g by a private and less democratic code often think that, in maintaining the status quo, both inside and outside of the courtroom, they are actually preventing t he unraveling of society. In Let the Circle Be Unbroken the Logan children have no illusions about what the outcome of T.J.s trial will be because their father frankly tells them that T.J. is in the hands of the law now and that law like jus bout everything in this country is made for the white folks (Taylor 35). T.J. will be executed, regardless of his innocence in t he murder, because he has dared to consider himself as a friend to Melvin and R.W. Simms, two white teenagers who actually
192 committed the murder, and because he has publ icly accused his two new friends of the crime. Neither t he African American nor the whit e communities in this small Mississippi town in 1935 are pleased with this interracial friendship,22 but only the white citizens have the power to restore their soci al order, both in the courtroom during T.J.s trial and in the darkness w hen the Night Riders troll. Whereas the privileged, i.e., Caucasian communities in Let the Circle Be Unbroken and To Kill a Mockingbird employ trial verdicts as another way to preserve their distinction and superio rity, Captain Jaggery in The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and the settlers community in Crooked River also use the justice system to protect and improve their own positions. In Avis The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle which is set on a ship at sea between England and America in 1832, 13 year old Charlotte is convicted of murdering Mr. Hollybrass, the first mate. Captain Jaggery, the judge and the prosecutor at her trial, as well as the actual murderer, assures Charlotte that she must be blamed for Mr. Hollybrass s death and the rest of the terrible voyage23 because she is the unnatural one (True 202), a girl who gave up her position as a lady to work and dress as a member of the male crew, but C aptain Jaggery is not merely sacrificing Charlotte to maintain traditi onal gender roles and boundar ies. He murdered Mr. Hollybrass and would happily kill Charlotte as well in the name of justice in order to safeguard his capt aincy of the Seahawk a position of power and honor that both Mr. Hollybrass and Charlotte thought him unfit to hold. Likewise, in Crooked River the 22 As Hamdia Bosmajian explains, For whites, T.J. is a scapegoat of convenience who will be burdened with the blame for a criminal act, but his role as a scapegoat for the black community is more complex (148). 23 In addition to the murder of Mr. Hollybrass, the people on board the Seahawk have also endured a mutiny that resulted in a death and injuries and a fierce hurricane.
193 townspeople transform Amik into a political sacrifice. As Rebeccas older brother, Amos, rationalizes, What if seeing what happens to Indian John sends the rest of the Indians out of here for good and leaves us to live in peace? (Pearsall 189). In point of fact, the townspeople have not been physically threatened by the nearby Native Americans, but their land would certainly be easier to seize in their absence. Thus, personal and communal agendas can clearly influence a nd skew performances of justice. As the unjust verdicts against Amik, C harlotte, T.J., and Tom Robinson show, juries do not always arrive at the right decis ions, often because they bring their personal prejudices and community biases into the jury box with them. Ferguson observes, Juries provide the most pot ent symbol of self-rule ever invented and represent the high-water mark of democratic understandi ng and republican principle. On the other hand, and at almost every stage of its existence, the inst itution has been found wanting or suspect in practical application (52). Frequently, jurors are r egarded as either too ignorant or too prejudiced to make objective decisions based on the evidence presented in court, such as it is, and Trial by Jury Journal the only novel told at least partially from a jurors perspective, certainly does nothing to negate the notion of a biased jury. (For that matter, a few of the jurors do not seem very bright either .) Describing the voir dire process in her journal, Lily recalls that, when Ms. Mute, the defense attorney, asked if any of the potential jurors did not believe that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, [n]ot a single hand went up, which I coul dnt believe. Everyone KNOWS Bob White is guilty. Maybe I shouldve raised my hand, but I didnt want to be the only one (Klise 25). And clearly Lily is not the only one who s hould have raised her hand. Buzz Ard, one of Lilys fellow jurors, reports in his newspaper column at the beginning of the trial that
194 [t]he prosecutions case is tighter than a drum (Klise 28),24 and Anna Conda, another juror who later turns out to be in cahoots wit h Rhett Tyle, Perrys kidnapper, attempts to turn the jury pool against Bob White. While Annas reasons for contaminating the jury are extreme and rare, the pr ejudices and predetermined judgm ents of Lily and Buzz, not to mention the jurors of t he other trials discussed, are not unusual, and they can result in unfair, conciliatory verdicts that privil ege and protect mainstream society while hurting the outcasts and scapegoats and making a mockery of justice. The pursuit of justice in these novels is al so compromised by a lack of solid, direct evidence in all of the cases. Without non-controvertible evidence before them, jurors are forced to base their decisions largely on the performances of the witnesses and the attorneys, and they are more readily able to bring their prejudices to bear on the verdicts. And, as most of these novels attes t, this combination of factors can lead to a lot of wrongful convictions. In fact, the only pieces of physical evidence offered in any of the courts of law are Amiks feather and Charlottes knife, both of which were actually planted at the murder scenes showing that even physical evidence is not always reliable. Otherwise, all of the evidence against the accused comes from witnesses testimony, which is sometimes trustworth y, sometimes inaccu rate, and sometimes untrue. As the Innocent Projects report, Exoner ated: Too Many Wrongful Convictions states, % [of the 250 people exonerated by this organization] were convicted based at least in part on ey ewitness misidentificat ion (22-23). While Harry 24 In his daily column, Whats the Buzz, Buzz reveal s a lot of information that he probably could not get away with in real life. For example, he reports, And heres the big news: I cant reveal the names of my fellow jurors (and its killing me!), but Ill tell you th is much: Weve got a star-studded lineup here to beat the band. Think local celebrity recluse. Starving artis t. Fashion designer (Klise 29). Readers in Tyleville could easily identify the local celebrity recluse at least so Buzz has essentially named her. He continues to report from his sequestration, even identifyi ng the hotel where the jury stays by description, if not name.
195 Potter s Sirius Black is mistakenly identified as Peter Pettigrews killer by Muggle witnesses, intentionally false identificati ons and deliberately misconstructed scenarios actually play larger and more damaging roles in To Kill a Mockingbird, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, Crooked River, Trial by Jury Journal, and The Trials of Kate Hope The parts played by jailhouse snitches in Monster and by false confessions in Trial by Jury Journal and Harry Potter and the HalfBlood Prince are also shown to be as unreliable as the testimony of many of the witnesses,25 and none of these performances provi des substantive proof of guilt. Yet forcing jurorsand readersto make decisions based on individuals performances in the courtroom only underscore s the importance of performativity in trials as a whole, while also reminding read ers that actual justice must girder the performances of justice if such performances are to have any true worth at all. Thanks to the Romantics understanding of chil dhood innocence, children are often still perceived as better judges of fairness and morality than adults, and many authors (and other adults) seem anxious to tap into this idea, attempting to teach children about the follies, hypocrisies, and prejudices that can jeopardize a trial before the children acquire the indifference or cynicism of age. For exampl e, after the trial of Tom Robinson, twelve year old Jem asks his father, Atticus, how the jury could have convicted Tom Robinson when there was no real evidence against him. Atticus responds, I dont know, but they did it. Theyve done it before and they did it tonight and theyll do it again and when they do itseems that only children weep (Lee 213). Unfortunately, juries will indeed 25 The Innocence Projects report, 50 Exonerated: Too Many Wrongful Convictions, discusses the impact that snitches and false confessions can have on wrongful convictions. For example, of the 250 people exonerated through the efforts of the Innocence Project, % were convicted based at least in part on testimony from snitches and informants (3839), and % were convicted based at least in part on false confessions, admissions or guilty pleas (32-33).
196 convict an innocent person for the wrong reas ons again. But childrens and young adult novels that feature such injustices and t heir consequences may help the children who weep now to grow into adults who will not only weep but also work to ensure that the performance of justice is as aut hentic and actualized as possible.
197 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION: THE JURYS STILL OUT Of course, the jury is still outan d, in a sense, always will bein ruling on how effectively these works teach children and adol escents about the legal system. After all, the books themselves vary in the aspects of the criminal justice system that they address, in the progressivene ss or conservativeness of t heir ideologies, and in their literary strengths. But each of the books contributes to reader s awareness of individuals whose lives are affected by the legal system an often overlooked or dismissed group and, indeed, a cultureand I hope that my dissertation brings some attention to this important subset of childr ens and young adult literatur e and the reallife people and situations that it reflects. As I continue to research this topic, I plan to explore childrens stories about youthful activists who use the legal system to right a social wrong through the lenses of the often conflicting child reform models of pr otecting children and li berating them from adult constraints and oversight. I am especially interested in the portrayal of young activists in the recent abundance of books about children and adolescents in the American civil rights movement, m any of which are biographical. Similarly, I also want to investigate other childrens wo rks of non-fiction about the cr iminal justice system more closely to see how these books portray the system differently than their fictional counterparts and to determine if these books can be considered multicultural as well. In my introduction, I acknowledge that I perceive a great deal of overlap among the multicultural metaphors of mirrors, window, and doors, at least in childrens books about the legal system. Ideally, all of these works should fu lfill all three metaphors and their functions simultaneously, if in varyi ng degrees, encouraging readers to search for
198 at least partial reflections of themselves in all kinds of characte rs, promoting education and empathy, and encouraging childr en to apply what they have learned in their books to the world around them. Whenever possible, childrens books about the criminal justice systemand about multiculturalism and issues of social justice more broadly should also exert a special effort to inspir e their readers to believe that social change, as well as individual change, is possible. And, indeed, my greatest critique of the childrens books about the criminal justic e system is their em phasis on changing or fixing the individuals within the system rather than on considering larger questions about the system itself. I realize that the most frequently a sked question about my dissertation will probably continue to be: what role do these books play in influencing childrens views on the legal system? Of course, no one can defin itively answer this question, but I hope that Botelho and Rudman are not being overly optimistic when they observe, Childrens literature can redress injustice as much as reflect it. It can inspire readers to reflect on their lived experience, re-imagine socially ju st worlds, provide new ways of exercising power, and offer tools for building cultural and historical understanding (266). May these books fulfill all of these aspirations.
199 LIST OF REFERENCES Alcock, Vivian. A Kind of Thief New York: Yearling, 19 94. A.L.O.E. The Prisoner and the Peach. London: Nelson, 186?. Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak New York: Speak, 2006. ---. Twisted. New York: Viking, 2007 Avi. The Traitors Gate New York: Atheneum, 2007. ---. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle New York: Avon Flare, 1992. Bajoria, Paul. The Printers Devil New York: Little, 2005. Barker, M.P. A Difficult Boy New York: Holiday, 2008. Booth, Coe. Tyrell. New York: Push, 2007. Bosmajian, Hamida. Mildred Taylors Story of Cassie Logan: A Search for Law and Justice in a Racist Society. Childrens Literature 24 (1996): 141-160. Botelho, Maria Jos, and Masha Kabakow Rudman. Critical Multicultural Analysis of Childrens Literature: Mi rrors, Windows, and Doors New York: Routledge, 2009. Bradburn, Eliza Weaver. Rosa, or, The two castles London: Partridge, 1863?. Brisson, Pat. Mama Loves Me from Away Honesdale: Boyds Mills, 2004. Brown, Chris Carlton. Hoppergrass New York: Holt, 2009. Brown, Joanne, and Nancy St. Clair. The Distant Mirror: Reflections on Young Adult Historical Fiction. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2006. Butterworth, Oliver. A Visit to the Big House Boston: Houghton, 1993. Caponegro, Ramona. Where the Bad Girls Are (Contained): Representations of the 1950s Female Juvenile Delinquent in Childrens Literature and Ladies Home Journal. Childrens Literature Association Quarterly 34.4 (2009): 312-329. Carroll, Lewis. Alices Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There: The Centenary Edition. Ed. Hugh Haughton. London: Penguin, 1998. Cart, Michael. From Romance to Realism: 50 Y ears of Growth and Change in Young Adult Literature New York: Harper, 1996.
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206 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Prior to coming to the University of Florida, Ramona Anne Caponegro received a Bachelor of Arts from Sain t Louis University in 2004, wh ere she majored in English, minored in psychology, and completed a cert ificate (an interdisciplinary minor) in Community Service, Social Justice, and Peace in the American City. She completed her Master of Arts in the Departm ent of English at the Universi ty of Florida in 2006 before beginning her doctoral studies. In addition to teaching classes in childrens literature, she also worked as the Coordinator of the Center for Childrens Literature and Culture and as Assistant to the Curator of the Baldwin Library of Historical Childrens Literature. After completing her dissertation, Ramona took a deep breath.