Bigotry and stubbornness are perceptible attitudes of small-town communities in 1960's Western Australia. The notion that the inhabitants of the tight-knit community of Corrigan are racist, prejudiced and ignorant is explicated in Craig Silvey's coming of age novel, Jasper Jones. The bildungsroman is narrated by Charlie Bucktin, an adolescent from the small town of Corrigan. Charlie becomes unexpectedly involved with a local indigenous boy, Jasper, as they set out to discover the truth about the death of a young girl from their community. Throughout this quest, Charlie comes to many realisations about life, ultimately, that society can be very cruel. The prejudism and ignorance of the tight-knit community of Corrigan manifests in the
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Silvey’s use of repetition, enumeration and figurative language portray the theme of scapegoats, in particularly, how the xenophobic community tend to compound all their problems on the indigenous outcast – Jasper. Silvey depicts the town’s tendency to blame instead of taking responsibility using enumeration and capitalisation of Jasper being “a Theif, a Liar, a Thug, a Truant.” The author’s use of enumeration reinforces the community’s negativity towards those who are ostracised in society and how unfair, unjust and judgement the town’s blame is. Furthermore, the repetition of “he’s” and “his” delineates the downgrading and belittling of Jasper, in addition to taking away his identity; fortifying the idea that he is used as a scapegoat for the community’s own issues. The values of dignity and respect are challenged when the community define Jasper as “the rotten model.” This implicates that the town need an escape from their problems, thus, scapegoating the outcast-Aboriginal, Jasper. The racial tension presented in the novel unfortunately position readers to evoke sympathetic emotions for Jasper and all those whom are ostracised by the townspeople of Corrigan. However, the theme of scapegoats allow the reader to be reflect on the discriminatory context of country Western Australia during the 1960’s.
Atonement, the action of making amends for wrong or