Infinite YA Literature
[Student’s Last Name]
[Professor’s Last Name]
Infinite in YA Fiction
Infinite, and infinity is a significantly used resource in Young Adult literature. YA books and stories tend to drift toward the emotional development in characters. In the same way, the primary audience for YA fiction is composed of teenagers –this is not a secret, though–, and most writers aim to show characters that develop at the same pace the readers do. In most books, the feeling of infinite is shown in the climaxes, or in those parts where the plot shows a significant part of the character’s development. For instance, the literary canon –seen in movies and books– says that when the characters have reached their maximum potential, they feel a sensation of infinite as if they belonged to the world. Moreover, the only situations that truly count are those they are living. We can think of infinite in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” movie when Charlie is cruising through the tunnel in Patrick’s truck, blasting music and being careless teenagers. In that scene, as Sam goes through the truck’s window and raises her arms like a star, Charlie sees her awestruck, happy to belong finally somewhere. In that scene, he feels infinite as if nothing could tarnish that memory. Although we are aware that the movie and the book differ, and we shall address the book in due time, we considered that this image illustrates the epitome of teenage “coolness” and infinity.
Besides, teenage years are all about the immediate. While it is true that during the teens, people develop close bonds, most of those bonds are not meant to last forever. The thing is that many teens are not entirely aware of that, and decide to live those moments as if they were their last days. We are not saying that teenagers are dumb, we are saying that being a teenager is about that, taking reckless decisions; having friends; fall in love; feeling miserable, and then be happy again. Teenage years are a roller coaster, and to most adults it is hard to understand the teenagers’ mind, as they cannot seem to recall how they were in their teens. That is why YA holds a prominent place in literature, as most books are written by adults, for young readers. This presents us the opportunity of seeing small pieces of the author’s mind, scattered through their books.
In this final essay, we shall explore the meaning of “infinite” throughout the books we have worked in the semester. We shall trace those moments where the character, or characters reach infinity and explore the situations that lead to that realization. Finally, we shall connect those infinities with each other, as a way to show how they are related.
We shall explain each instance separately, quoting them accordingly.
“INFINITY” IN TWILIGHT
In Twilight, we found two instances where Bella could have reached infinity or an infinite sensation.
“”Sleep well,” he said. His breath blew in my face, stunning me. It was the same exquisite scent that clung to his jacket, but in a more concentrated form. I blinked, thoroughly dazed. He leaned away.” (Meyer 90). In this part, Bella confronted Edward, and he admitted he was a Vampire. After his answer, Bella realizes that she does not care and decides she wants to be with him regardless of his origins. Here, infinity is reached through young love, as Bella realizes she does not care whether Edward is a vampire, or not. She just wants to be with him, and she wants that moment to last forever.
“I touched his face. “Look,” I said. “I love you more than everything else in the world combined. Isn’t that enough?” “Yes, it is enough,” he answered, smiling. “Enough for forever.”” (236). As we can see, Twilight’s infinite is about love, in the book, Bella reaches infinity every single time she realizes Edward will stay with her forever. To her, her relationship with him is the most important thing in the world, and seeing it confirmed by her paramour’s actions. After he saved her, she understands that they are meant for each other, and she is willing to cling to that relationship no matter what.
Each book has its signs, and Twilight is all about young love. However, how love is manifested, that is an entirely different situation. We have exposed our opinion about the book in a previous essay, but what we can see here is that the bliss of feeling loved, and the idea of belonging somewhere. Bella found in Edward all the warmth she did not perceive in her parents, and clings to him as his savior. We might criticize that, but if the bliss of love is what the character needed to advance emotionally, it worked.
INFINITY IN “THE HUNGER GAMES.”
. “I reach her just as she is about to mount the steps. With one sweep of my arm, I push her behind me. “I volunteer!” I gasp. “I volunteer as tribute!”” (Collins 21). Infinity in The Hunger Games is reached through sacrifice. When Katniss volunteers as a tribute, she puts her life on the line to protect her sister, who would not stand a chance against the rest of the participants. This strikes us as odd, but to Katniss, sacrifice has always been in her life. From illegally hunting to purvey food to her family, to finally risking her life to save her sister. We can see that she considers that protecting her loved ones is the most important role she ever took in her life.
“Slowly, one stem at a time. I decorate her body with the flowers. Covering the ugly wound. Wreathing her face. Weaving her hair with bright colors.” (225). Here we see that although it might have brought her ill consequences, she decides to honor Rue, as a friend, not as a competitor, nor an enemy. She honors the memory of someone who died to appease other people’s desire for entertainment. Infinity here is reached through the realization of death, but not death as the necessary consequence of the game, but the game as something avoidable. In another world, a girl like Rue would have lived a fulfilling life, not dying like an animal.
The fact that Katniss is willing to sacrifice herself to honor a friend gives us the dimension of her moral standards and the righteousness that Rue’s death caused. At that moment, Katniss realized that she had to play as smart and cunning as her foes, to beat them to make them pay. We can see how that sacrifice is what fueled her desire of exposing the reality of the game, and the Capitol itself.
INFINITY IN “THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.”
In this book, infinity is reached through the idea of death. For instance, when Hazel says “I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I would not trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” (Green 73). Hazel knows she is bound to die somewhere, but she is not willing to let that situation tarnish the best memories she has ever had. Her imminent death puts her life in perspective, and she realizes that within the days she has, those days with Gus have been the best. Green creates an excellent story where he mixes bubblegum teenager love with the ominous shadow of death. Hazel knows that her life is going to end, but she decided not to let that stop her from finding love, and being happy. Infinity this time is not pushing away the idea of death, but embrace it, and turn its presence into part of her life, as a way to remove the mystery out of it. By making death something quotidian, she can fall in love and live.
“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” (45). Here, Hazel understands the finite nature of her love. She knows that she is going to die sooner than later, but she refuses to let death manage her life. Instead, she lets herself fall in love, and live the most out of it. She decides to think about the best and accept the possibilities her death might offer.
INFINITE IN “THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.”
In the Perks, the word infinite is very present. Charlie uses it thoroughly as a way to describe his emotions. The feeling of infinity he has can be seen as a sense of being complete, to finally belong to something. Having friends; fall in love. To him, infinite seems the way teenagers feel.
“Sam tapped her hand on the steering wheel. Patrick held his hand outside the car and made airwaves. Moreover, I just sat between them. After the song had finished, I said something. “I feel infinite.”(Chbosky 20). Here we can see the infinite we were talking about before. Having friends, hanging out, enjoying. That is the closest thing to infinite a teenager can experience. To him, infinite is comprised of situations, rather than feelings. There are a series of situations that make us feel infinite, and to him those were the best moments in his life. If he chose to live them to the fullest, that was his choice.
“But mostly, I was crying because I was suddenly very aware of the fact that it was me standing up in that tunnel with the wind over my face. Not caring if I saw downtown. Not even thinking about it. Because I was standing in the tunnel. And I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite.” (117). Infinity here is reached by a memory. The memory of his friends, and that moment where he felt that nothing mattered, that the present was the only time possible, and nothing, but that existed. His tears were tears of joy, as he did not care about the view, he was feeling instead of seeing. In that last trip he realizes who he is, and decides to act accordingly, living a life instead of writing about one.
RELATION BETWEEN THE BOOKS INFINITIES
Bella and Charlie. Both teenagers are in a way, abandoned. They feel out of place, and since they had no friends to rely on, they feel small, almost insignificant. In Bella’s case, everything changes when she meets Edward and his family. Their acceptance is what Bella needed to develop emotionally and become a person on her right. In Charlie’s case happens something similar. He is a precocious and intelligent kid that cannot find a place among his peers. That is why he fits so well among outsiders such as Sam and Patrick. They and their entourage offer Charlie the family he needed and show him the perks of being a careless, and intelligent teenager. As we can see, both Characters were alone, and it is by love, and companionship that they can be infinite.
Hazel and Katniss. In both books, death and sacrifice are an ever-present situation. To Katniss is dying for others, and to Hazel is an illness. However, what connects both is love, Hazel finds a reason to live because her love for Gus and Katniss finds strength in her family. Both characters need something to stay afloat, or they might drift, having nothing to live their lives. Both books have death very present, but it is not an ominous and unavoidable one. Instead it turns into a guest, into someone the protagonists choose to have near, to turn it into something of their everyday lives.
Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. London: Penguin Pocket, 1999. Print.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.
Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. Dutton, 2012. Print.
Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. Little, Brown, 2005. Print.