A Literary Passage

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

Dept. of Sociology


Using Erikson's and Gilligan's theories of adolescent development, this paper presents a content analysis of the depiction of adolescent development in a sample of Newbery Medal winners and honor books. Some diversity was found among the major characters, but white males were overrepresented. Many of the characters underwent an identity crisis. Some passed through the identity versus role confusion stage; others, especially in the almost prototypical maleinitiation-rite stories, discovered ways to deal with nature (industry) which engendered a far clearer sense of self (identity). The major female characters experienced the two phases more or less simultaneously, but a similar fusion existed for a number of the male characters. The themes of "separation" and "connection" were paramount in the stories, and what Gilligan has called "the ethic of care" was presented positively. Some main characters matured only when they recognized their responsibility to others.