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Queenie Peavy Analysis

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Growing from adolescence into adulthood involves many hard lessons. Queenie Peavy, although considered an example of regional fiction, is an excellent novel for young people reaching adolescence. Through Queenie’s actions, readers are introduced to conflicts, both internal and external, often encountered in life: person against person, person against society, and person against self.

Queenie’s internal conflict involving person against person develops as she struggles with her beliefs about her father. She imagines him to be a loving, caring, and warm human being. It is this imagined father to whom she pledges her fierce loyalty, no matter what personal price she has to pay. When her father comes home, Queenie treats him as if he were a king. She chops firewood, rushes home after school, and tip-toes quietly through the house as she does the chores that she has assumed for her father while he was away in prison. The irony of this relationship is that while Mr. Peavy is the one person who hurts Queenie the most, he is also the person who helps her the most. It is when she realizes that he is not the father she wanted him to be, nor the imagined father that she created in her mind, that Queenie begins to change. Had he not come home, Queenie may never have realized how much she was hurting only herself, or at least not in time to prevent her life from being one of delinquency and reform schools, always “in the shadow of the jail.”

Burch’s inclusion of the African American Corry family as the Peavys’ closest neighbors serves a dual purpose. Queenie’s relationship with them provides readers with a true picture of Queenie’s personality. She is kind, loving, and creative, and she is a hard worker. It also portrays the relationships developed over time between white and black people in the South. In the 1930’s, they sometimes worked together and were neighborly, but they did not attend school together. Burch does not mention segregation, instead allowing readers to come to that realization themselves: Dover Corry is old enough to go to school but is never mentioned when the setting is the school or its playground.

Burch, through Queenie Peavy , allows adolescent readers to realize that growing up means learning about many things: respecting authority, handling problems, using morality as a guide, and accepting one’s self even when rejection by others hurts so much. Perhaps the most difficult of these themes is the acceptance of one’s self. Queenie, after resisting the...

(The entire section is 657 words.)