Kit's Wilderness

Representing the Connection Between Memory and Identity: 'Tom's Midnight Garden' and 'Kit's Wilderness' College

Writing on the relationship between memories and narratives, theorist Derek Neal argues that ‘consciousness, memory and storytelling are intricately linked’ (954). This statement becomes especially relevant when, as will be explored within this essay, it is applied to literature designed for children and young adults. More specifically, this essay will consider how two novels within these categories – Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden (1958) and David Almond’s Kit’s Wilderness (1999) – make use of memory within their ‘storytelling’, or narratives, in order to question and/or influence the national identities of British society contemporary to their time(s) of publishing.

A key feature within both Pearce and Almond’s novels is a sense of returning to the past. In Tom’s Midnight Garden, this occurs through use of a convention typical of the ‘magical realism’ genre within which the novel can be positioned, a ‘time-slip’, defined as ‘a sudden, unexplained, dislocation in time, usually but not invariably “falling” into the past’ (Stableford, 357). This time-slip enables the child protagonist, Tom, to access the garden of the converted country house within which he is currently staying, as it existed in the late Victorian...

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