The motif of meeting: a content analysis of multi-voiced young adult novels
Stolp, Susan Hardy
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The purpose of this study was to discover, through content analysis, polyphonic narrative strategies used in a small sample of multi-voiced young adult novels. The objective was to trace the paths of the individual narrators toward eventual meeting with or understanding of each other, looking for trends, commonalities, and unique qualities that characterize the polyphonic fugue described by McCallum (1999) and Bakhtin (1981). I envisioned these points of meeting as Bahktin's (1981) units of narrative analysis known as the chronotope, perfect alignments in time and space, functioning as connectors among strands within multi-voiced narratives. In Vivo Coding, springing from the actual language of participants, and Emotion Coding, making inferences about narrators' subjective experiences, were the guiding qualitative methodologies used in this content analysis. The combination of In Vivo and Emotion Codes provided the data that was used to analyze and interpret narrators' emotional journeys as well as their interactions with one another. The content analysis revealed a complexity of emotions among the ten individual narrators from the three novels studied. Patterns in their emotional journeys were determined and displayed using artistic representation. Points of meeting between and among narrators proved to be the impetus for individual change and growth. In terms of the fugue, the voices are independent of one another but also have shape and meaning in conjunction with one another (McCallum, 1999), and through analysis and interpretation of narrators' emotional arcs, these shapes and meanings emerged. In terms of significance, this content analysis provided evidence for the use of multi-voiced young adult literature to be a means by which to read with a critical literacy lens, for adolescents to realize their existence as part of a greater whole, and to imagine literature as a catalyst toward personal growth.