A similarity I observed in the novels read throughout the semester, is the theme of adolescence as resistance. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Annie John and Never Let Me Go, each of the protagonists rebel against the societal norms and expectations placed upon them. They spend their adolescence trying to find a deeper meaning within their purpose of existing. The protagonists rebel against their current situation because they know that if they follow their environment’s standards, their future will become everything they hate. What they learn during their efforts of resisting adolescence is that their future has already been set and changing the outcome is nearly impossible.
In the novel, Annie John the protagonist starts as a young girl who is full of curiosity and wonder. As she matures, her curiosities become more and more dark. Annie thinks deeply about death and the dreary details that come along with it. She begins to compare everything mundane detail about her life to death as if death is just another small occurrence in life, not to be looked twice at. She replaces her tremendous love for her mother with hatred and anger replacing holding her mother’s hand to the comforting thought of imagining her dead corpse. “As my heels bumped up against the trunk. My heart just broke, and I cried and cried. At that moment, I missed my mother more than I had ever imagined possible and wanted only to live somewhere quiet and beautiful with her alone, but also at that moment I wanted only to see her lying dead, all withered and in a coffin at my feet.” (6.27, Kincaid). This quote represents the ambiguous or mismatched feelings towards her mother. She wants to live in seclusion with her mother but at the same time wants to see her dead. These thoughts are not in line with what society expects from Annie. Her parents and community want her to be a nice girl- one that cooks and cleans. A girl that does not play marbles in the dirt with boys, a girl who acts like a lady and who will grow up to be a wife and mother. Annie has many more aspirations than being a wife and mother, she has dreams of leaving her family and island. Annie is desperate for change, to leave her old life behind and creating a new identity for herself away from her parent’s control. Annie begins to what seems like purposely, behave in a way her parents would not approve.
The height of Annie’s resistance is when her mother calls her a slut for associating with boys. This is the worst thing Annie could hear, only progressing the emotional resistance between Annie and her parents. The oppressive and restrictive conditions only enhance Annie’s rebellious strategies. In order, for Annie to have any type of future she is sent away to England. Annie has mixed feeling about this situation because her parents are giving her an out- a different path that she can take to avoid the meaningless future they planned for her. On the other hand, Annie is scared and unsure of this path because she herself did not choose it. Annie only deems something acceptable if it is at her control, in reality Annie’s resisting nature was not going to get her anywhere. The thing that is interesting about the adolescent journey is that the adolescent involved believes they know it all. Annie believed that her parents were wrong about everything, from the clothes they dressed her in to the food they cooked for dinner. Yet, at the same time Annie did not know anything either. All she “knew” was that the promises and wants from her parents were wrong and all she knew was to resist and fight them until something changed. “Lying in my bed for the last time, I thought, this is what I add up to. At that I felt as if someone had placed me in a hole and was forcing me first down and then up against the pressure of gravity. I shook myself and prepared to get up, I said to myself, “I am getting up out of this bed for the last time.” (8.4, Kincaid.)
The outcome of Annie’s resistance is full of an ominous and joyful tone that symbolizes Annie’s unsure feeling of the next phase in life. In the novel, Never Let Me Go, the main character Kath struggles with the purpose of her existence. It is revealed that Kath is not human and is in fact a scientifically engineered human clone. The clones only purpose is to provide organs for human harvesting. When Kath learns the true meaning of her life she begins to resist her fate, Kath searches far and wide for any other option out there for her. She even includes another clone on her journey for self-exploration. In some ways, Never Let Me Go revolves around the questions of how to live a “decent life” in the face of impending death. Miss Lucy, the clones’ guardian suggests that it is better to face death with full awareness rather than resisting it. “If you’re to live decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you, every one of you.” (8.1, Ishigaro). Kath does the exact opposite. Kath focuses on memories as a form of resisting instead of looking ahead to what she knows is coming. At the end, Kath resists her future because her fate is not one that she imagined or wished for herself. Even though Kath concludes her journey with a sense of understanding-it is not an acceptance because resisting will not change the course of her life. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the author Mark Twain touched upon various topics, one of them being Huck’s rebellion and resistance to being civilized. Huck Finn resists against civilization because he does not agree with the standards and would rather grow to be an individual rather than a follower who adhere to societal norms.
From the very beginning Huck reveals unwillingness to become behave appropriately. When Huck lived with the widow he was tormented by the regulations placed upon him. “The Widow, she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me, but it was rough living in the house all the time, considerin how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I could stand it no longer, I lit out”. (1.2, Twain). Huck did not put up with any rules such as having good manners. Even dressing nicely was a chore for Huck. “She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn’t do nothing but sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up”. Continuing to resist “I got into my old rags ,and was free and satisfied.” (1.2, Twain). Huck’s resistance continued as concerns for morality and religion came into his life. His inability to understand religion the way the widow viewed it was widely unaccepted. Huck simply did not understand how pertinent spiritual belief was in society, “After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers.. Moses had been dead for a considerable long time; so then I didn’t care no more about him; because I don’t take no stock in dead people.” (1.3, Twain). Huck’s inability to admire the accomplishments of dead people also played a role in his rejection of prayer and the want/need to make it into Heaven as well as fearing Hell. “Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there.. I could not see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn’t try fo it.”
Due to Huck’s resistance to relate and understand what society expects of people he believed that the “good” place seemed boring and the ‘bad” place is where all his friends and father are going to end up; so why not want to go there? Due to Huck’s rebellion against being “civilized” he was successfully able to break away from expectation of society and lived by his own self-created morals that he happily abided by. Huck is only happy when he is living by his own decisions. For example, when Huck and Jim are stranded during a tropical storm, Huck states “Jim, this nice.. I would not want to be nowhere else but here.” This statement from Huck shows the satisfaction Huck feels by living by his choices no matter the result. Interestingly enough, Huck represents a sense of individuality that cannot be learned in school, only by him resisting and misbehaving would he had been able to survive the situations he was put in throughout the journey. This is Huck reaching a sense of maturity that is vastly different from the typical adolescent. He had matured greatly as a character and as a young adult changing his views on people especially Jim. Out of the three novels, every one portrayed a pattern of resistance within their protagonists.
Annie John resisted societal expectations as well as her parent’s wishes for her, but her outcome was met with a result that differed slightly than what was originally planned for her. However, Annie was still not pleased with the outcome. Kath resisted her fate that was literally built for her, she tried to find another “answer” for her existence but failed to do so, leaving her with the same outcome that was always planned for her, one that resisting could not change. And, Huck Finn he spent his entire adolescence escaping and resisting his environment, to his peers it seemed like an attempt to rebel against society as a whole but it really was just an attempt to discover one’s self and finding happiness in life. As I read in the other two novels, it became clear that there was a pattern which presented fate as something that is nearly impossible to change. But, with Huck he successfully avoided what was planned and expected for him, and prevailed into a life destined by his own choices.