Craig Silvey’s Australian Novel “Jasper Jones”

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Craig Silvey’s Australian novel “Jasper Jones” highlights the importance of an outsider to make the readers feel connected and helps to show how a single persons biased view can affect everyone, when it comes to human experience the representation of an outsider helps to shape understandings of yourself and the world. Jasper Jones highlights the fact that not all people are treated the same as many are mistreated or they have a prejudice view held against them. The representation of an outsider is clearly shown in the novel Jasper Jones it is created through the use of the Lu family, Jasper Jones and Mad Jack Lionel.

Many things help to influence Craig Slivey to write the novel. The location that the novel was set in was influenced as Western Australia was home to many indigenous and multicultural people, who face discrimination, therefore making Western Australia a believable and appropriate setting. The time the novel was set was the 1960’s these were a really hard time period for people who were noticeably different. 

Indigenous Australians were seen as less and non-indigenous people held a very prejudice view against them. Silvey based his characters due to issues he wanted to discus, this helped to enhance certain characteristics of characters. It also helps readers to further understand the characters as well as to feel a certain type of emotion towards the characters.

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Throughout the novel the readers begin to develop an image of Jasper Jones. He is an aboriginal teenage boy who is completely rejected and looked down upon by the town of Corrigan. Much of the racism towards his was driven by ideology that aboriginals were not considered citizens. Corrigan people view Jasper as much less than a human “Jasper Jones has a terrible reputation in Corrigan. He’s a Thief, a Liar, a Thug, a Truant. He’s lazy and unreliable. He’s feral and an orphan, or as good as. His mother is dead, and his father is no good”. This is still a problem in today’s society, but Australia are getting better at saying sorry for all of the hurt we have caused aboriginal Australians.

Whilst going on the journey with Charlie as he narrates the novel readers begin to develop a view of the Lu family. They are repeatedly discriminated against due to the Vietnamese war that was taking place. The Lu family are from Vietnam throughout the novel the people of Corrigan are very rude towards the Lu the novel there are a few examples that help to show this prejudice against the Lu family. 

Sue Findlay aggressively spills tea on Mrs Lu as she has recently lost her son to the Vietnam war. Sue “Slapped (Mrs Lu’s) her cup up, right into her chest and her chin, staining her thin summer blouse and scalding her skin.' In today’s society we still do this with refugees and people who are not the same as us. Such as people with a disability, or people who look different. Jeffery faces a lot of racism from the boys at school and from the boys on his cricket team. “Jeffery's parents are Vietnamese, so he's ruthlessly bullied and belted about by boys at school”.

Throughout the novel readers also begin to develop a view of Mad Jack Lionel, Slivey uses the rule of three to describe him 'Hunkered, haggard and bent'. They hold a prejudice view of him without even getting to know him. They believe that he is a murderer and is creepy. This is because he isolates himself from the town of Corrigan in fear of being judged. People call him the town psycho. Mad Jack Lionel is seen as a “legendary resident of Corrigan who supposedly killed a woman years ago, Mad Jack Lionel is greatly feared by the adolescents and children of the town.”

Silvey uses Jasper to help make the readers feel sorry and sad for the outsiders. By doing this the readers are un aware that people in our community still feel like this today using jasper, the Lu family and Mad Jack Lionel slivey tries to open the door for the readers to see that peoples biased views, racism and discrimination affects the people of today’s society even more than it did in the 1960’s when the book was based.

The town people of Corrigan all hold a prejudice view towards anyone who is different this includes the children of Corrigan. The children have not had the chance to make their own decisions on how they treat the people who are different they are forced to and led to believe by their parents that anyone who is isolated, who looks different or even acts different are not good people and are much less than human. Issues that are explored in the article are still very relevant today many people don’t realize the effect their biased views have on others. In interviews with slivey he states that the reason he wrote the novel was to bring up important issues such as racism, discrimination and prejudice.     

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