Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones Allusions to literature in Jasper Jones

Charlie is an avid reader, and because of this, there are many allusions to literature in Jasper Jones. Charlie uses the books he borrows from his father's library in order to make sense of this confusing time in his life. For example, when Charlie considers why Jasper might have chosen him to ask for help over all other people, he thinks about Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. He thinks of himself as wise and tolerant, like Atticus Finch. To Kill A Mockingbird shares many themes with Jasper Jones, and Atticus Finch's character teaches readers about the merits of tolerance and integrity. This perception of himself helps Charlie get brave enough to help Jasper out.

A key allusion occurs when Charlie drinks and smokes for the first time. He realizes that even though fictional characters in his favorite novels love the experience of drinking and smoking, he finds them to be horrible. Alcohol is harsh and tastes bad, but "Sal Paradise held up bottles of booze like a housewife in a detergent commercial" (34). And cigarettes make him cough, even though "Holden Caulfield reached for his cigarettes like an act of faith" (34). This causes Charlie to doubt everything he has learned, and he feels like he "can't trust anything" (34). Included in the list of things he now doubts is whether sex is so great.

More evidence that literature strongly influences Charlie's thinking comes when Charlie and Jeffrey argue about the relative merits of Batman versus Superman. Charlie believes that Batman is ultimately better than Superman because Batman is mortal: "Batman is the ultimate human. He is flawless, yet he is capable of being flawed" (55). Charlie believes that Batman is better than Superman because Batman has more to lose. Furthermore, Batman has been able to become as mighty as Superman even though he doesn't have superpowers: "He fights for Truth and Justice... And he does this without any weird mutations. He's just really determined" (55). Superman isn't actually courageous, even though he isn't afraid of anything, because "He's a man of steel... He's invincible" (56). This point of Charlie's, that "the more you have to lose, the braver you are for standing up," influences how much Charlie admires both Jeffery and Jasper, both of whom he sees as brave (56).

A final allusion gives insight into Charlie's relationship with his mother. After his fight with his mother, Charlie dreams that he is in the universe of The Wizard of Oz. He is wearing Dorothy's ruby shoes, and his mother is the witch. It is set in Jasper's meadow. The dream reinterprets The Wizard of Oz from the witch's point of view, and in doing so it gives insight into Charlie's thought that stories depend on the perspective one tells them by. When considering the perspective of the witches, The Wizard of Ox becomes a horror story: "A young girl arrives in a strange place where she discovers she has killed someone. After she loots the body and recruits three friends, she travels to another city, where she commits her second murder and steals again" (114). In his dream, Charlie is wronging his mother. Still, he knows that she is unhappy with her life, and this translates into his dream: "I bet she was happy to go. I bet a part of her was relieved to melt into nothing" (128). Again, we see Charlie use literature as a means of interpreting his position in life and analyzing his personal relationships.