Monday, July 16, 2012

Positive Male Archetypes - Part 5 of 5

Today I wrap up this series with a discussion of the last two archetypes.

Illustration by Anna Sherrod
The Trickster
This is the impish side of masculinity. He can be satirical, irreverent or just outright funny. He pokes fun at the self-righteous; he mocks arrogance. In literature he often targets the harsh schoolmaster or the school bully. Readers get a deep sense of satisfaction seeing the “bad guy” get what’s coming.

Roald Dahl is master of the Trickster archetype. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes to mind. There are many more.
Other examples include:  Creepers by Keith Gray and Robin Hood by Margaret Early.

 The Lover
This archetype has qualities that are stereotypically feminine making it difficult for boys to relate to. In addition, the popular culture has redefined the word “lover” to mean sexual partner so boys have a misconstrued picture of what masculine love really is; all the more reason to clarify this aspect of manliness. Boys need to understand that there is love in generosity extended to both friends and strangers. In fact, masculine love motivates men to form alliances and to push for a common goal together. Successful sports teams know this. It’s sometimes referred to as “having the right chemistry.”

An excellent example is found in Avi’s The Barn in addition to Soldier’s Heart by Gary Paulsen and Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury.

A final word about archetypes:
The titles I have listed to illustrate each archetype are by no means definitive.  A story may represent more than one archetype and, therefore, be categorized differently.  My purpose is to show that quality literature that attracts boys is more than nonstop action and adventure.  Boys are drawn to positive male archetypes because the stories speak to them at a deeper level than just the mechanical elements of story and plot.

I believe that at least one of these male archetypes dominates the personality of every boy.  He has the potential to become an Edmund Hillary or a Bass Reeves only if he has a natural bent toward the Wildman or Magician archetypes.

This knowledge is useful for parents, teachers, or librarians who want to help usher young aliterate readers into the world of quality literature.  If a boy is able to identify one or two books that interest him, then adults who are knowledgeable of archetypal classification have a clue as to the particular archetype he is drawn toward.  They are then able to recommend books that illustrate the same archetype even if the storylines are different.  Once these boys realize that there is a literary world ready for them to step in to the habit of reading can be gradually established.

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