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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Canadian cultural identity, disillusionment, and isolation in contemporary realistic Canadian young adult fiction Wilcox, Mary Elizabeth


This study explores Canadian cultural identity in a selection of contemporary realistic dark-themed Canadian Young Adult (YA) fiction: The Lottery by Beth Goobie, The Space Between by Don Aker, The Beckoners by Carrie Mac, and Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai. Using close reading, these adolescent novels are analyzed for the “bleak” themes of disillusionment and isolation. The themes are compared to corresponding trends in American YA literature, including self-reflection, ambiguous endings, the role of violence, absent parents, and the forms of the socially and psychologically abject characters. The novels are then analyzed using Canadian critical lenses adapted from John Ralston Saul’s theory of false myths and Daniel Coleman’s theory of wry civility. The critical lenses are also linked to Dennis Lee’s theory of inauthenticity and authenticity in Canadian culture and Northrop Frye’s definitions of unity and uniformity. The analysis concludes that the themes of isolation and disillusionment reflect deep engagement with authentic Canadian cultural theories.

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