“This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” — Robert Kennedy.
Adolescence occupies an unique position in pop cultural imagination. An amalgamation of innocence, hope, uncertainty and vulnerability, the time of youth is reflective of the past while simultaneously representing the future. Perhaps more significantly, youth represents a time of change, a period of growth. In apocalyptic fiction, adolescents are often put through idiosyncratic and extreme trials, producing texts which imbues the notion of youth with unique significance, therefore altering the ways in which both adolescence and at a larger scale, the apocalypse, is understood. How then, can we understand the place of youths in the apocalypse?
This collection of essays, each analyzing a text that centres around the experiences of the youth, attempts to critically analyse depictions of youth in the apocalypse. In doing so, we seek to clarify some aspects of the place and meanings of youths in apocalyptic texts and thus pop cultural beliefs about the youth.
First, Praveen’s “Social Isolation and Jonas’ Rebellion in the Giver ” and Yun Ting’s “Survival versus Morality of Youths in the Presence of a Protector in the Hunger Games and The Road” seek to understand the moral character of youths in the apocalypse through the interrogation of their motivations and actions which are problematized by their situation in the apocalypse.
Second, we have Tanya’s “Enola and the Mariner: Why we can’t have one without the other in the film, Waterworld” which analyses the portrayal of relationships between adolescents and other characters at the end of the world, describing how adolescent characters may come to complete depictions of heroism.
Lastly, Clarice’s “Traumatic Adolescences and Revolutionary Tendencies in Brian Singer’s X-men” and Elaine’s “Violence by Adolescents against Establishments, an Eschatological Analysis of Donnie Darko and the Destructors” both describe youth as capable of producing the apocalypse, exploring how adolescent experiences affects adulthood and how future youths warn of apocalyptic destruction.
Through these essays, we hope to shed some light on the position of youth characters in the apocalyptic genre as one that is inherently complex, yet imbued with volatile potential; the potential to save the world from apocalypse, or become the very forces that wreak unparalleled destruction.