Nathaniel (novel) ;"It isn't all about you, you know": an exploration of the planned and the serendipitous in the writing of 'Nathaniel' (dissertation)

Lelia Green

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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[Truncated abstract]
NOVEL: ‘Nathaniel’
‘Nathaniel‘ considers the capacity of young people to develop and express an authentic sense of self even if, or possibly especially when, that authenticity is at odds with the models and blueprints available to them. Brought up in a fundamentalist Christian family, with an absent mother and an unknown father, Nathaniel is cared for by his grandparents. A mystery hangs over the disappearance of his mother, who left him at the maternity hospital on the day of his birth. As he reaches the age his mother was when she disappeared, Nathaniel seeks to understand more about this absent presence in his life. Nathaniel forms particularly close attachments with his teachers, partly because he is excluded and bullied by classmates. Teacher-student relationships and the challenges of acting in loco parentis - in the place of parents - are explored in the novel. These relationships become especially fraught for Nathaniel when his favourite teacher, David Henley, is stood down during a police enquiry after photos of his naked children are found circulating among paedophiles. Placed in a position where he feels it is right to support his teacher, who has become isolated from his primary social networks, Nathaniel begins to negotiate the complexities of keeping secrets from people with whom he has always been open, and who sense that his circumstances and beliefs are changing. Adding to the challenges Nathaniel faces is his growing awareness of Jasmine, a Goth girl in his class who feels a particular connection with Juliet Capulet. Jasmine‘s social world changes dramatically when she misses out on the role of Juliet in the class production of Act I Scene V of Romeo and Juliet, and finds her erstwhile best friend Phoebe cast in the lead in her stead. Jasmine and Nathaniel find they share a common commitment to authenticity as they negotiate their roles as the class outsiders and as adolescents attracting the benign or predatory attention of adults.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011


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