"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, April 28, 2014

Youth Versus Age

The younger generation challenging the older is a popular and well-used theme. This timeless conflict provides ordeals for the children standing up to the parent(s), and the guardian experiencing his/her own mortality when they remember similar episodes with their own parents. This generational drama can often be found on the page.

Fairy-tale struggles with wolves and witches may be ways of expressing those same conflicts. Notice how "dark" figures are often the experienced characters pitted against the "newcomer" or child? Ex. Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, etc. Joseph Campbell spoke of the dragon as a Western symbol of a tyrant who has held fast to a kingdom or a family until all the life has been squeezed out of it.

The age conflict can be experienced internally as well. The plot conflict may arise from a struggle between an old and comfortable lifestyle, and a new, unknown and untried one. The new self can't be born until the old one dies.

Science Fiction - Fantasy authors use a similar technique in time travel stories. Will the hero return to his/her own time, or will they be better off in the past/future?

In some cases an Ordeal can cause a healing of wounds between a hero and parent. Campbell calls this possibility "Atonement with the Father." Sometimes a hero, by surviving an Ordeal or by daring to challenge the authority of a parental figure, will win the parent's approval and the seeming conflicts between them will be resolved. Ex. Sister Act II: Back in the Habit

What are some of your favorite examples of age conflict?

10 comments:

Jack said...

The Lord of the Rings! Innocent little hobbits standing up to big, evil Sauron!
This is in an interesting way at looking at stories. I've never thought of it before.

Tamara Narayan said...

My wip has a father and son in a never-ending battle of wits in 1859. The father holds fast to the traditional way of life (southern plantation, slavery), while the son, who was educated in the north, has his own ideas.

Bish Denham said...

The prodigal son is a classic story. Icarus and his father Daedalus is another.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

In adult literature, D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers was a great example of father/son conflict.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A.M. Guynes/Annikka Woods said...

Jack gave my example - LOTR. Another one is Mercedes Lackey's To Take a Thief. The main character is fighting against the older Heralds because of mistrust until the defining event which allows him to trust them.

CA Heaven said...

My favorite example of age conflict in literature is the novel "Fathers and Sons" by Ivan Turgenev. Brilliant exposure of the young generation returning to the father's rural estate with anarchist ideas picked up in the big city >:)

Cold As Heaven

Birgit said...

LOTR is always a great film. I love the classic fairy tales. I love "Under the Tuscan Sun" -letting the old ways go to be reborn like a phoenix.

ilakshee said...

An interesting way to look at age creating conflicts.

SusieTron FiveThousand said...

Most of the Disney cartoon movies have the old/vs young tale. Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid.... pretty much most if not all do. Being a step-mum, I especially feel Disney gives us a bad name... but how can you tell a story without conflict?