What can we ascertain about boyhood in Treasure Island?Exploring the concept of how children's literature in the 19th century contributed to our idea of gender.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Given that Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island was one of the first novels which depicted the teaching of morals, the novel's focus on boyhood tribulations and morality was of the utmost importance. The novel teaches these morals through the challenges the protagonist, Jim Hawkins, and his decisions regarding how to overcome them. The novel shows how the mind of a boy works in regards to making decisions about life and the challenges Jim faces. While fantastical, the novel is still able to show how the decisions of life are important in growth and the actualization of how choices impact the rest one's life.

Literature of the 19th century provided adolescents with stories of growing up and the hardships one faced in making decisions. Historically, children in literature were stereotyped to be placed into roles which society upheld. Jim, a young boy, would be easily seen as playing with pirates. Unlike Jim, a contrasting role of Anne (the protagonist from Anne of Green Gables) portrays a role more typically expected of a young girl. Not out upon the sea, Anne lives a life within the confines of a small village. Anne's conflicts are more recognizable with those of a young girls (friendships, girlish mishaps, and run-ins with other girls).

Therefore, "our" idea of gender has been held fast by literature of the past. It has not been until recent literature has changed, showing homosexuality and feminist males, where the historical gender roles have begun to blur.

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