Magic Wands, Aliens, and the Truth: Rowling and Card's Depiction of the Adult, the Child, the Shadow and the Other

Yoshie Manaka, University of Redlands


This essay looks at the representations of childhood and adulthood, and the fraught transition between the two in the Harry Potter series and the Ender and Shadow series. These books, wildly popular in their own right, can reveal how we as a society both desire and fear the child; we simultaneously frame the child as our shadow and our savior. Children are both romanticized and portrayed as Other. These are two sides of the same coin: both are projections of adults' nostalgic desire for innocence and their fear of losing it. YA fiction aims to explore the moral questions children must encounter as they become adults, yet it reveals a problematic depiction of the relationship between the adult and child. The contradictory placement of the child in YA fiction seems isolating to the adolescent reader, but by reading against the grain, we find that YA texts offer a strategy for connection.