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An Investigation into Carmody's 'Obernewtyn', and its Defiance of the Values of Modern Social Institutions.

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Introduction

An Investigation into Carmody's 'Obernewtyn', and its Defiance of the Values of Modern Social Insti tutions. Name: Suzanne Poulgrain Teacher: Ms. Wall Class: 12D Word Count: 1547 INTRODUCTION: Isobelle Carmody's "Obernewtyn," promotes ideologies starkly contradictory to those promoted by modern social institutions. Set in the future, the book implies that the values of present society will lead to the eventual destruction of the human race. As well as this, there are general anti-Christian and anti-authoritarian messages embedded in the text; a promotion of complete child independence and adult corruption, and the portrayal of social seclusion as an admirable quality. The book has been a success worldwide selling more than 150,000 copies and winning six awards. (Australian Council, 2004) Children have cherished this book since it was first published; yet the values promoted undermine those of modern social organizations. REWARDS and PUNISHMENTS The rewards and punishments within the text demonstrate the unconventional values the text promotes. During the climax of the story when Elspeth is afraid Rushton may die, she is "filled with rage," as a result of this intense hatred "something inside [her] head cracked violently." (237) The solution to the climax's problem lies in Elspeth embracing her hatred. ...read more.

Middle

The characters and setting of Carmody's "Obernewtyn" enhance hatred of adult society and endorse emotional isolation, the fantasy genre shields this content from literal interpretation. ANTI-CHRISTIAN IDEOLOGY: This text promotes a heavy anti-Christian ideology by portraying the church as a corrupt organisation and ridiculing their aspirations. Modern children relish "Obernewtyn",' despite, or because of, its obvious anti-Christian and anti-authoritarian ideology. Post Holocaust society's religious body is known as 'the Herder Faction' and closely resembles the modern Christian church. The Herder Faction perform all ceremonial rites, recite prayers and believe themselves to be in direct connection with God, like Christian priests. Both groups believe in God, but where the beforetimers named this figure 'the Lord,' post holocaust society name him 'the Lud.' (50) Having established that the 'Herder Faction' is in fact Christianity veiled by a thin veneer of language, its ridiculed and evil portrayal seems sacrilegious. Priests of the Faction are described as 'corrupt and evil' (47) and are seen sacrificing their religion for personal advantage. It is a Herder that ignores blasphemous remarks because, "he has been warned that the youth is necessary." (5) The entire organization is described as "a fanatical order," (back cover) happy to burn any one appearing abnormal. ...read more.

Conclusion

This can be interpreted as a message suggesting anyone in power should not be trusted and those without deserve power as well as a person's actions are the result of what they are, rather than the reverse. This book oversimplifies the relationship between power and goodness and on this basis promotes anti-authoritarian attitudes. CONCLUSION: "Obernewtyn" promotes ideologies that challenge many current social practices. Messages of hatred, violence and subjective categorisation of people can be perceived through the rewards and punishments in the story. These ideologies oppose those of the church and government so defy the norm. The text endorses hatred of adult society and emotional isolation through the character's defining qualities of vulnerability and disobedience. By allying the good with the socially unacceptable, the text naturalises disobedience and ridicules power structures. Carmody's book blatantly criticises the Christian Church and portrays it as a blood thirsty, power-hungry institution whose sole motivation is power. This depiction undermines the power of the modern Christian church by showing an alternate negative reading of their role in society. The combination of the hero's hatred and the Council's evil actions, firmly establishes an antiauthoritarian ideology within the text. This undermines present social obedience and can be seen as an attack on the present social structure, and indeed all power holding institutions. The controversial ideologies establish Carmody's "Obernewtyn" to be an immense challenge to present social practices by undermining the values they promote. ...read more.

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