Qualities of friendship : unreliable narration in young adult fiction

  • Alyssa Brugman

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Why is a young adult character’s unreliability a useful narrative strategy in one novel and a hindrance in another? Is the writer’s allegiance to the reader or to the character they create? These are questions specific to young adult fiction, since the protagonist is inherently unreliable, and the readers are generally inexperienced interpreters of narrative strategies. This research seeks to identify narrative devices from the field of narratology, and determine how they can be used to address the limitations of unreliable narrators in young adult fiction. Five texts have been examined for specific narrative strategies, identified in the structural narratology literature (among these - frequency, anachrony, embedded text, metafiction, and assigning a narratee). Three theorists were particularly inspiring for this research. Many of the texts in narratology do not address the actual author, but instead focus on the reader’s interpretation of the text. Concepts put forward by Wayne Booth, Mike Cadden and Theresa Hyde each influenced this research, having perspectives on the obligations of the author to their readership. A number of tactics have been identified in the texts that do not appear in the narratology literature, or seem to have the opposite effect to that which the literature would indicate. The exegesis discusses these narrative strategies and how they contribute to overcoming the limitations of unreliable narrators in young adult fiction. An accompanying manuscript demonstrates some of the strategies discussed in the exegesis.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBelle Alderman (Supervisor), Jen Webb (Supervisor) & Tony Eaton (Supervisor)

    Cite this