2. Presentation of the novel
2.2 Main Characters
2.2.1 Vernon Gregory Little
2.2.2 Doris Eleanor Little
3.1 Vernon’s family situation – adolescence and family
3.2 Media Influence
4. „Vernon God Little“ in class
4.1 Reading Logs
4.2 Blogs in the classroom
4.3 Weblog „Vernon God Little“
The award-winning first novel „Vernon God Little“ by DBC Pierre
„ puts an astute, if needling, finger on the scary collusion between entertainment and law enforcement in American culture...If Huckelberry Finn were set on the Mexican-American border and written by the creators of South Park, it might read something like this“
states the San Francisco Chronicle.
Vernon Little as well as Huckleberry Finn is a coming of age story and describes the protagonist’s struggeling against society, the media and his single mother. Written in an unfiltred and sharp adolescent-boys-slang, one could be remindend of dialogues adapted from South Park.
Teaching „Vernon God Little“ in an English as a 2nd language classroom can be challenging for several reasons. Some might claim that style and language could be unappropriate in some ways for a classroom.
On the other hand the novel offers various topics interesting for teenage students and worth discussing in class as highschool massacres, mass media, US justice system or even more subtile coming of age topics as the relationship towards family, first love and sexual interests.
In this paper a short overview of the novel, its plot, its main characters and the setting is provided as a general basis.
The topic „adolescence and family as a special coming of age theme as well as „the influence of media“ as a special topic are exemplary analysed.
The main character’s relationship towards his single mother is complex and a noticable metaphore of „a knife in his back“ occurs throughout the novel. The struggle between independence and emotional and material addiction to their parents is well-known by adolescent students and might be an interesting topic they can elaborate on.
The media gains more and more influence in teenagers’ daily lifes and therefore a critical discussion of this topic might be appropriate.
As the titel of this paper refers to weblogs as a way of teaching the novel, a short overview of reading logs, blogs in general and the possible connection between those as a teaching tool is provided.
Reading logs support the student’s individual access to a novel, their transformation to the modern platform of the Internet is discussed and the explicit application of weblogs to the novel „Vernon God Little“ is discribed.
The last part offers some tasks, according to the prior introduced topics „adolescence and family“ and the „influence of media“ which can be provided in the weblog.
2. Presentation of the novel
“Vernon God Little” is a story about an intelligent fifteen-year-old who is a student at an American highschool and is innocently accused of being involved in a highschool massacre.
Up to the day his former best friend Jesus Navarro shot down 16 of his fellow students and himself at school, Vernon lived a normal life alone with his mother. Vernon is introduced to the reader while he is sitting at the police-station of Matririo, a small town in Texas being interviewed about the terrible happening. Although he was not involved in the shooting as he was running an errand for his physics teacher the police tries to make him responsible as an accomplice of Jesus and puts him under pressure. But it is not only the police who wants to use Vernon as a scapegoat. The whole town of Martirio as well as the media, represented by the alleged CNN-reporter Eulalio Ledesma, tries to doom the teenage-protagonist.
Eulalio intrigates with Vernon’s mother and promises to establish Vernon’s innocence. But instead he is interested in getting a big story, betrays Vernon and questions his innocence in the media. After being arrested and put under psychiatric analyis, the judge suggests a possible alibi and Vernon is released again.
As the citizens of Martirio still suspect Vernon in being involved in the massacre he decides to escape to Mexico.
Eulalio, who still hopes to get a great story, pretends to help Vern]on to tell the truth about his role. He traces him in Mexico and turns out to be traitor as he sets a snare to Vernon. The girl, Vernon considered to be the girl of his dreams is hired by Eulalio in order to get a false confession out of Vernon, which is recorded.
This evidence, in which Vernon confesses the murder of some of the students leads to the death sentence for Vernon.
Ledesma plans to make a huge media event out of the Vernon´s execution. The proof for Vernon´s actual innocence arrives at the last moment: Vernon suffers from incontinentia and had to use the piece of paper that was sent to him by the school´s secretary - his alibi for the time of the shooting – as toilet-paper. Being afraid of being made fun of Vernon hides this piece of paper from everybody, but luckily his lawyer finds it just before the young protagonist is executed. Vernon´s life turns back to normality.
2.2 Main Characters
2.2.1 Vernon Gregory Little
15-year-old Vernon is the narrator and the protagonist of the novel. He lives alone with his mother in Martirio, a small town in Texas. His father has disappeared, but he remembers him vaguely.
When his father left Vernon and his mother alone, she insists on her son hiding his fathers rifle outside the house. The den is the secret Vernon shares with his former best friend Jesus Navarro and hides the key together with other secrets like drugs he is keeping for adorable Taylor Figuera in his closet.
Vernon seems bored by what the school system offers to students, but is intelligent, perceptive and expressive. His world-view is coined by TV-movies, where truth always wins in the end. „Under my grief glows a serenity that comes from knowing the truth always wins in the end. Why do movies end happy? Because they imitate life. You know it, I know it.“ (VGL, 2003, p.8)
Vernon’s life changes dramatically, when Jesus whom he has observed getting weird lately shot 16 of their classmates and comitts suicide, leaving Vernon on the scene and treatened as a scapegoat from now on.
Although he is innocent, as he was running errands for his teacher Mr. Nuckles, Vernon’s guilt becomes clearer and clearer for the citizens of Martirio.
During the investigations on the massacre he is freed as a patient of psychatrist Dr. Goosens, whom he suspects being pedophile after a physical examination.
As he can not deal with his mother’s new lover Eulalio and a search party is approaching the den and detecting his father’s gun, Vernon decides to escape to Mexico.
Inspired by the 80’s movie „Against All Odds“ he dreams of a future life in a beach house in Mexico with his beloved Taylor.
On the way to Mexico he meets her, but later on she is the bait in a trap invented by Eulalio. To impress Taylor he is seduced to confess the mass murder.
Vernon is sentenced to death, which inspires Eulalio to broadcast a TV show called „Death Row“.
Via telephone voiting Vernon is selected by the citizens to be executed, but he receives a last-second reprieve.
As Vernon has to face a lot of trouble and has to go through it almost on his own behalf, he has to act like an adult. But Vernon has not yet reached adult intellectual maturity yet. He is still treatened as a teenager and stuck to this role by an invisible psychic „knife“ stabbed in him by his mother, friends and teachers.
Another indicator of his immaturity is the fact, that he trusts people too much.
- Quote paper
- Catharina Belinghausen (Author), 2008, Teaching with Weblogs: Vernon God Little, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/136424