What are some themes found in New Kid by Jerry Craft, and how do Jordan's actions, words, feelings, and thoughts support those themes?
The themes in New Kid include racial prejudice, social exclusion, and artistic development. These are explored in Jordan's changing attitudes toward his new school, Riverdale, and the social, academic, and artistic challenges he faces there.
Jerry Craft's graphic novel, New Kid, deals with themes of racial prejudice and social exclusion. It is also a Bildungsroman and, more specifically, a Künstlerroman, a subcategory of the coming-of-age novel which explores the development of an artist.
The themes of prejudice and exclusion are explored by the device of placing the talented outsider, Jordan Banks, in an exclusive school, where he immediately feels out of place on the grounds of both race and class. His parents are divided over the issue, with his mother pointing out that Riverdale is "one of the best schools in the entire state," while his father objects that it lacks diversity. Both turn out to be right. Liam, who is appointed to act as Jordan's mentor, comes from an upper-class family of Riverdale alumni, and his father is concerned about him even visiting the neighborhood of Washington Heights. However, the two boys become friends, particularly after they discover a shared interest in video games. However, other students at Riverdale are more hostile.
Jordan attempts to bring his new friends from school together with his old friends from Washington Heights by playing video games in a group. However, the mannerisms he has picked up at his new school separate him from his old friends when they give him the nickname "Private School." This leads to his feeling ill at ease in both groups for some time.
One of the ways in which Jordan's development as an artist is explored is through his relationship with his art teacher at Riverdale. Initially, he is upset not to be at an art school and does not see the value of what he is being taught. However, he eventually comes to see the value of a grounding in and knowledge of various artistic genres.
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