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Destroying Avalon

English Essay Destroying Avalon In the novel Destroying Avalon by Kate McCaffrey I was able to interpret the text easily in various ways due to my personal experiences and context. When the theme of bullying – more specifically cyber bullying – was introduced through the characters, my immediate response was feelings of sympathy towards the victims, Avalon and Marshall. This is because, in the way that McCaffrey has formed realism in the character’s development, I can relate to the situation as I know real who represent Avalon and Marshall through my view.

Throughout the text Avalon feels exposed and isolated “alone in my bedroom, the one place I had felt safe until it was invaded through my fifteen inch, flat screen monitor” page 127. This makes me feel anxious and scared for Avalon because she is being invaded in her own bedroom. This personally relates to me because of having a context of knowing people that relates it shapes my response to the situation by feeling as if the novel is a lot more real and factual and feeling certain emotions, making it seem more like I’m reading a non-fiction novel.

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As a reader of the same age as the characters, I feel that I’m able to understand the novel better because of the way that McCaffrey has successfully used the narrative convention of language. This is since the majority of the language used is similar to what teenagers use online today, through text, and also verbally including such words resembling “bf” – meaning boyfriend, and “LOL” –translating to laugh out loud. Since the novel is aimed at teenagers, they will be able to interpret the text better.

Phrases which are in society and my personal opinion considered to be offensive and hurtful, including “boy rooting slut”, “devious slag”, “skanky ho” and other swear words are, unfortunately, commonly read throughout the novel. The narrative convention of language communicates the issue of upholding a person’s reputation and is something I can easily relate to. This is because by being a teenage girl in a relatively similar private school as the one Avalon attends, I’ve also had to observe the tortured world of different relationships, along with the competitive and sometimes destructive culture of the school yard.

With Avalon’s sexual reputation being attacked and untrue rumours spread by the use of defamatory emails from various unknowns, such as by “DragonGirl” who types “Avalon is a dirty slut … I hear she rooted the whole hockey team” page 71, which provokes me to  also respond by recognising and valuing how important a teenage girl’s sexual reputation is. This also includes me noticing how easily a good reputation is lost and just how difficult to restore one can be, along with it determining the way in which people treat you and how much you’re respected.

I responded to this by feeling sorry for Avalon because she is going to have to rebuild her good reputation. The language in the novel is also used in a style that enables me as a reader to feel the alienation and anxiety of the victimised characters “my stomach was painfully tight” page 68. The narrative convention of language, which conveys the issue of maintaining a good reputation, causes me to respond with these certain emotions and thoughts because of my former understanding and context.

Throughout the novel, it’s especially noticeable how the narrative convention of plot structure has been effectively used by McCaffrey to express the theme of death, alongside the issue of suicide. With the plot moving rapidly, I feel that McCaffrey is aiming to communicate just how quickly and dramatically things can change or take place. Marshall’s suicide, being what I consider to be the main climax throughout the plot structure, I responded with feelings of depression and an understanding of how real the effects of cyber bullying are, as well as an urge to become more mindful of how I say things and what I do.

This is because; by through the reading of the novel (and personal experience), I’ve learnt that people will respond to being in certain situations differently from one another. This can be seen when considering the differences between how Avalon and Marshall each handle being targeted and bullied, where Avalon is determined to stay positive and strong “make yourself bullet proof … do not give them power. Do not let them think they are strong” page 122, but in contrast, Marshall ends up giving in and writes “It’s all too much” page 229 and “I can’t take it anymore” page 231.

With the theme of death and issue of suicide focuses on within the novel through the narrative convention of plot structure, my context has shaped why I responded to this situation in this particular way. Destroying Avalon, by Kate McCaffrey, tells an influential story about two teenagers and their individual struggle for acceptance, while dealing with current issues and demonstrating how something small and seemingly harmless can develop into a situation which has significant impacts on the health – being both mental and physical – and wellbeing of others.

It’s a moving story which allows me as a reader to understand the feelings of bullies as well as their victims. By using the narrative conventions of character, language and plot structure during the novel, McCaffrey presents confronting themes to evoke a range of emotions and responses from readers.


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