Portrayal of aged characters in Australian award-winning children's novels 1946-1985

  • Joyce Kirk

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    The study investigated the nature of the portrayal of aged characters in children’s novels which won Children’ s Book Council of Australia’s awards in the period from 1946 to 1985. By means of content analysis, the demographic, personal and behavioural characteristics of aged characters were identified on a thirty-four item checklist. From these characteristics a portrayal score was derived to represent the extent of variation in the depiction of aged characters in the novels examined. Analysis of variance tests indicated that the level of variation in portrayal scores was significantly related aged characters in characters did not to the position of importance of novels. The portrayal. of aged vary according either to the approach to story adopted in Australian award-winning novels, or to the period in which the award was granted. It seems that although aged characters taken as a whole in the novels studied display the variety of characteristics attributed to aged people in the literature of gerontology, individually many of these aged characters are depicted in a somewhat limited way. There is evidence to suggest that aged characters in Australian award-winning children’s novels do not adequately reflect the demographic characteristics of aged people in the Australian population . In terms of range of social settings in which they are depicted is restricted. So too, is the range of behaviours in which they engage. This rather limited depiction of aged characters means that readers of Australian award winning children’s novels are presented with a restricted and unrealistic view of the aged and of the condition of being aged. If children’s novels serve as one of the socialisation agents for young people, then the limited portrayal of aged characters presented in those novels may be a cause for concern, especially as there are few indications that the depiction of aged characters generally in more recent award-winning novels has become more varied and realistic.
    Date of Award1988
    Original languageEnglish

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