Robert Cormiers engrossing thriller We All Fall Down is one that effectively draws the reader into the world of the novel.
In what ways does the author draw you into the world of the novel?
In your response make detailed reference to your prescribed text.
Robert Cormier’s engrossing thriller We All Fall Down is one that effectively draws the reader into the world of the novel. Cormier draws the reader into the world of the novel as the novel acts as a social commentary that identifies and explores an array of contemporary societal issues relevant to a young adult audience. Through the use of imagery, shifting narrative perspectives, juxtaposition, symbolism and repetition, Cormier highlights modern issues such as the prevalence of violence, the eroding family unit, isolation and the critical affects of alcohol abuse, the audience is effectively drawn into the world of the novel.
From the opening pages Cormier draws the reader into the world of the novel by centring the reader’s attention on the societal flaw of violence. This is achieved through the use of vivid imagery as four “regular” teenagers are “trashing” the Jerome “cape cod cottage”. The use of aggressive verbs, such as “smashing”, “shit” and “pissed”, function to shock the reader and evoke images of violence and destruction. This “brutal” opening scene is effective in immersing the reader into the world of mystery through the inclusion of a red herring. The responder is left to wonder ‘who is the avenger?’, ‘will Karen survive?’ and ‘was the trashing a random act of violence?’ Cormier also draws the reader into the violent world of the novel through the character of the Avenger, who murdered Vaughn Masterson and his Grandfather.
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The responder further is engaged into the world of the novel through Cormier’s description of Burnside. Cormier conveys a suburban town which parallels society today with the continued reference to the “mall” with its “crowds and the white lights and music”, which presents to the reader that a violent trashing can occur in a familiar environment.
Cormier feels strongly about family relationships and draws the audience into the world of the novel by utilising the technique of shifting narrative perspectives. This structural technique is used to demonstrate to the reader that an eroding family unit emotionally damages the individuals involved. Buddy Walker’s family is adversely affected by infidelity. The alliteration of Buddy as he “dreaded dinnertimes” demonstrates to the reader the extent to which the walker family has eroded as they cannot sit down to have a meal peacefully. The reader is drawn into the world of the novel as they can relate to the isolation felt by the “victims” of dysfunctional families. By shifting narrative perspective to Jane, the reader is shown how the trashing affects the Jerome family. Jane began to “withdraw” herself from her family and her father because his “accusing eyes” made her feel “it was impossible to be in her house even when her family was around”. This emotive language and the word “impossible” further engages the reader into the world of the novel as they empathise with Jane and witness her isolation from her family.
The structural technique of shifting narrative perspective also draws the reader into the world of the novel as it is used to juxtapose the Jerome and Walker families. Unlike Buddy’s father who has become “a twenty-five-dollar cheque in the mail”, Mr Jerome recognises that to overcome their issues “we must go on living.” The inclusive “we” demonstrates that the Jerome family is united. Cormier’s didactic message is clear that family relationships are significant for personal growth, as this is exemplified through the symbolism of Jane rising above Buddy on the escalator, conveying that united families have a positive impact on their children as opposed to dysfunctional families.
Alcohol abuse is a prevalent issue within contemporary society and this issue is also explored in the text, thus drawing the reader into the world of the novel. Cormier presents the issues of the violence and the eroding family unit and how they closely relate to alcohol abuse as Buddy “got drunk for the first time” after learning of his parents’ divorce. It is evident that dysfunctional families have a negative effect on their children as Buddy felt “great satisfaction smashing and trashing the house, like striking back at his mother and father and the whole goddamn world.” This simile of “like striking back” and the blasphemy of “goddamn” are effective in portraying Buddy’s frustration as this is the language of a frustrated teenager. Cormier draws the reader into the world of the novel as this reflection of contemporary society is a result of violence and relationship failure.
Cormier utilises the tool of characterisation effectively to explore Jane, Buddy and the Avenger. The audience is drawn into the world of the novel as these characters are realistically delineated as individuals struggling with issues present in contemporary society, thus relating to them. The reader connects to Jane as she has incredible strength and will. This is evident when The Avenger kidnaps her and as she is able to “forget everything else, forget Buddy and Karen and everything else. She had to survive”. The repetition of “forget” shows her strength and will as some individuals may not have this strength to do so in order to survive. Buddy’s weak character is alluded to through the nursery rhyme “we all fall down, don’t we?”
We all fall down effectively draws the reader into the world of the novel by conveying Cormier’s concerns of a corrupt and violent society. Cormier draws the reader into the world of the novel as he illustrates society is flawed by the issues of violence, the eroding family unit, and alcohol abuse. The techniques of imagery, shifting narrative perspectives, juxtaposition, symbolism and repetition articulate the issues presented in the text and those found in contemporary society, enabling Cormier to draw the reader into the world of the novel.