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Jasper Jones- Theme Notes

Loss of Innocence
Setting: The setting helps us understand the theme of loss of innocence as the
climate is really hot and heated which reflects the heated arguments in the
Conflict - Corrigan vs. Jasper: The conflict between Corrigan and Jasper Jones
helps us understand the theme of Loss of Innocence. Jasper is an outcast in
Corrigan, and the prejudice against him shows how it can affect a persons life
and how they act.
Conflict - Charlie vs his parents: The conflict between Charlie and his parents
helps us understand the theme of loss of innocence as Charlie originally didnt
fight back - he was obedient. But he eventually started standing up for himself
and he was being defiant. This helps us understand the theme of loss of
innocence as it shows us that people change and end up losing their innocence.
Character - Charlie: Charlie helps us understand the theme of loss of
innocence as he goes through a progressive journey of loss of innocence. This is
portrayed through the change in his relationships with other characters in the
novel and his perspectives on what he believed was right and wrong and the
exposure to the corruption in Corrigan.
Event- Jasper takes Charlie to see the body: This experience emphasizes
Charlies loss of innocence as it is an experience that most people do not have
ever encounter this situation and therefore it shows the reader his innocence is
lost and makes this event memorable.
Event: When Eliza sees Laura commit suicide: Here we realise that many
people go through a loss of innocence in many different circumstances.

Internal conflict: Whether or not Charlie should keep Lauras death a secretconflict between what is right and wrong. This is something that Charlie has
never experienced before and having to lie to the people he cares about causes
him to loss his innocence to progressively.
Purpose: What does Craig Silvey want us to learn from this? He wants to
help us understand that everyone is forced to grow up, and not be as naive. Its
something that everyone has to experience and go through. It shows us that
once your innocence is lost, it cannot be regained. The same perspectives you
held, before you lost it.
Mans Inhumanity to Man
Setting: The novel is set in Corrigan, West Australia in the summer of 1965. The
town is small and everyone is affected by the hot, dry weather. People are

affected as it causes them to become restless, irritable and unpredictable. They

are experiencing pathetic fallacy: their emotions are influenced by the weather.
The Vietnam War is also occurred during this time and Australia had just send
troops to assist in Vietnam. In association with the weather, people are very
angry and anti-Vietnam War. Since the town is relatively small, people are
prejudice and tend to believe what authority says. However, they do not question
what authority believes in. As a result, people blame Jeffery and his family for
having Australian troops sent there, due to their nationality being Vietnamese.
Jeffrey is called "Cong" by the cricket team and also excluded in the games when
he wants to play. One night unexpectedly, Jeffrey's father's garden is destroyed
by some locals and also experienced physical and verbal abuse. This displays
man's inhumanity to man as Jeffrey and his family are being harassed and
abused due to their nationality, however they have done nothing in contribution
to the Australian troops sent to Vietnam. It helps the readers understand that
man's inhumanity to man can be caused due to a racism and a small town
mentality, where people are influenced by the weather and authority.
Conflict- Corrigan vs. Jasper: Jasper is a half cast fourteen year old boy, who
is an outcast in the town of Corrigan. He is constantly judged by people, thinking
that he is a vandal and a thief. Whenever an incident occurs in Corrigan, people
automatically assume that Jasper is the culprit. Thus he has gained himself a bad
reputation for crimes he did not commit. Jasper's conflict with Corrigan is
emphasised when the town's police interrogate him, but do this by harsh means.
This includes burning him with cigarettes. However, people are unaware that
Jasper's father is addicted to alcohol, so Jasper must steal food to survive. Man's
inhumanity to man is displayed through Jasper's treatment by the people of
Corrigan and authority. This helps the reader understand that people are
prejudice and won't bother questioning the supposed "truth" because they
believe authority. People are easily manipulated and this can result in unjustified
treatment of people. It teaches the reader that people are corrupt and unjust.
Conflict- Charlie vs his mother: Charlie and his mother do not have a loving
relationship. Charlie learns his mother is not a good person; she is a drunk,
promiscuous and cruel. His mother's manipulative behaviour towards Charlie is
an example of mans inhumanity to man. It is not fair on Charlie to have a
mother that doesn't love him. His mother is unhappy with her life, feeling
trapped in her marriage and not satisfied with the life she lives. Silvey shows that
people sometimes neglect others while they are focusing on their own issues.
This helps the reader to understand that this is unfair on Charlie.
Character- Jeffrey: "Jeffrey's parents are Vietnamese so he's ruthlessly bullied".
The novel is set in 1965 as the Vietnam War is beginning in which Australia has
sent troupes of men to fight. Many people in Corrigan have lost people they know
due to the war and now hate the Vietnamese. This results in racism towards
Jeffery's family, in particular Jeffrey is "ruthlessly bullied" by the kids at school
and around town. Although Jeffrey is constantly taunted he does not retaliate.
This is endearing to Charlie as Jeffrey can with stand constant abuse for
something he cannot control: his nationality. He acts as Charlie's distraction from

Laura's death as his carefree, less than serious nature allows Charlie to feel
young. Jeffrey helps the audience to understand the strength of those who are
treated with inhumanity. Although Jeffrey is a talented cricket player the town
chooses to discriminate against him, not allowing him to play in the team
because of his race. When Jeffrey wins the match for the team the town is okay
with him. Silvey shows how those who are constantly treated unfairly have great
struggle to prove to others their worth, more so how unjust it is to demand
someone to prove them self as the reasons behind the towns inhumanity
towards Jeffrey are not fairly justified.
Character- Laura: Laura lives with her father, mother and younger sister Eliza.
Her dad is the Shire of Corrigan and is seen by the townspeople as a good man.
However Lauras dad abuses Laura at home, and only Eliza, her younger sister
knows. Laura tries to get help but nobody believes her, because everyone trusts
the Shire. This shows the inhumanity of Lauras father, as he uses his power to
hurt other people, including his daughter. This ultimately led to Lauras suicide as
she constantly got abused by her father and no one was there to believe her.
This leads us to understand that people with power may use this to manipulate
people, and it is hard for people who trust them to believe something different.
Event- Charlie and Jasper meet Mad Jack Lionel: As Charlie and Jasper meet
Mad Jack Lionel the find out the truth about what really happened. Mad Jack
Lionel was involved in a car crash killing Jaspers mother. However Corrigan
changed the story and accused Mad Jack Lionel of killing a woman, saying he
murdered her. From this point on he was outcast in the middle of the woods,
forced to live alone in solitary. This shows us the inhumanity of Corrigan towards
Mad Jack Lionel, as he never got a chance to explain himself, and was
automatically outcast. This led Mad Jack Lionel to live a sad, lonely life, and he
feels the consequences of the actions of Corrigan. This allows us to understand
that small towns like to start drama, and like to have someone to blame things
on, without even knowing the truth, which ultimately shows us mans inhumanity
to man.
Event- Jeffreys fathers garden gets destroyed and he gets beaten up.
One night in the book Mr Lu, Jeffreys father, has his garden trashed by some
citizens of Corrigan. His garden was his prised possession and it meant a lot to
him. As well as this Mr Lu gets beat up too, for no apparent reason. We find out
that he gets beat up because he is Vietnamese and at the time Australia was
taking part in the Vietnam War. The people in Corrigan are anti-Vietnam War, and
even though Jeffrey and his family arent even involved with the war, they get
harassed just for being from the same country. This shows mans inhumanity to
man towards Jeffreys dad, as he is picked on and violated, without a reason. This
shows how racism can cause people to be inhumane and horrible to others, and
that when people have strong beliefs they will harm others, just for being
Internal conflict:
Charlie throughout the novel experienced a number of conflicting thoughts as he
slowly but surely became aware of mans inhumanity to man. When found out

about Lauras body, his first instinct is to tell someone, to trust someone.
Through Jasper, he learns that you cant always trust people as until you know
who they really are, you are never aware of what they are capable of. Jasper is
aware of this due to the cruelty he is subjected to as being half aboriginal. He
sees the real side of the people in Corrigan unlike Charlie, who sees the side they
put on for everybody. This leads to Charlie feeling confused as he was never
previously aware of how cruel man can be to man. This realisation causes him to
see other cruelties more clearly e.g. Jeffrey is constantly bullied for being of
Vietnamese descent and no one intervenes to help or protect him, his mother
gives him irrational punishments which Charlie cant understand.
Purpose: What does Craig Silvey want us to learn from this?
Silvey wants us to learn that people sometimes do the things they do because of
their own feelings and perspectives on the issue. Because of their own problems,
they are unable to put themselves in someone elses position and see the
situation from their angle and the way it is affecting them. Because of this
inability to understand and empathise with others, humans have the capability to
hurt others inhumanely for the own personal agendas and misunderstandings.
e.g. the man who beat Jeffreys dad up-blamed him for him being laid of work
and the disappearance of Laura, Charlies mother-Unhappy with her own life and
thought of herself without thinking of Charlie or his father. Ended up hurting
Charlie emotionally in many ways, time and time again. Seen in our world e.g.
Wars-with people there are always conflicts as no one can seem to see eye to
eye. However, in these wars, its the innocent ones who get caught in the
crossfire (children, woman, men who are not a part of the war). Same as Corrigan
where the innocent ones (Charlie, Jeffrey and his family) where most affected by
an issue which more or less initially had nothing to do with them.
The Boundaries between Truth and Lies
Setting: The setting within Jasper Jones plays a large part in showing the Theme
of truth and lies. This is explained through the contrast between the two main
settings within the town of Corrigan. The forest and the actual town. If we
consider that in a way the forest stands for the truth and the town for lies then
the theme is revealed. The forest knows how the events of Lauras death played
out and in knowing the truth the forest is calm and not in panic, fully
understanding the events and why they happened. However the town does not
know the truth and therefore lies are invented and chaos and panic occur as fear
gets the best of the people in it. This of course also leads to blame and
accusations as well.
Conflict- Corrigan vs. Jasper: This aspect of the novel helps the reader
understand, the boundary between truth and lies, by showing example of both
the lies we tell to others and ourselves. The conflict is mainly caused by the
towns unfounded accusations and prejudice towards Jasper, which helps us
understand how the boundary can be crossed when a lie is easier to believe in
than the truth. Although Jasper has never done anything really bad, and, in fact,
deserves to be helped rather than persecuted, everyone (except for a few such
as Charlie and Laura) takes the easier option and chooses to believe in the,

wrong, common opinion, that Jasper is to blame for all negative events
happening; causing Jasper to hate the town and become an outcast. Not only
does this mean, they do not have to confront their own, racist beliefs, but also
have a scape goat and someone to blame and persecute when things go wrong.
An example of this conflict is when Jasper is beaten by the sheriff and mayor, for
being a suspect in Laura's disappearance. This develops the reader's
understanding of the boundaries between truth and lies, by causing us to
question our own judgements and opinions. The towns, fervent belief in their
completely wrong, unfounded opinions, makes the reader wonder about their
own bias in relation to issues within and outside the text (such as racism, sexism
and homophobia ), the boundary between the truth and lies in themselves and
the ones they have been told by others.
Conflict- Charlie vs his parents: There is really only a large amount of said
conflict between Charlie and his mother (Ruth) as his father (Wes) just tends to
back off or slink away to his study. Now Charlie and his mother tend not to see
eye to eye on quite a few issues. Some due to the fact the he is of course lying
most of the time, others due to Ruth being a pretty horrible person and some of
it is the normal type of arguments that teenagers and parents tend to have. The
first would be Charlie constantly lying about where he is going and what he is
doing. E.G when Charlie goes home after going to the forest with Jasper and Ruth
& Wes have a huge fit. An example of it being mostly Ruths fault it when she
forces Charlie to dig a hole in the garden which he is then told to fill up. An
example of parent teenager conflict is through the events at which Charlie pops
to the library but is slapper/ yelled at when he returns as he left the street. All
these different events show the conflict between Charlie and Ruth and though
Wes tends not to do anything it does agitate Charlie as he believes that Wes
should stand up for himself and be a man.
Character- Charlie: Throughout the novel, Charlie begins to learn the boundary
between truth and lies. Charlie starts to see the narrow-minded and prejudice
attitude of the people in the town, especially towards his two friends, Jeffrey and
Jasper. Having realised this truth, Charlie also understands that sometimes, lying
is necessary to protect ourselves or people close to us. Charlie chooses not to tell
the truth in order to protect Jasper. The town lies and simply blame everything on
Jasper to protect themselves from the reality that they themselves are the bad
people. Once Charlie realises all this, it enables him to grow in his understanding
of the world and the concept of truth and lies. Once previously taught that he
must follow rules and tell the truth, Charlie now realises that sometimes you
need to break the rules and tell some lies to protect people from injustices.
Character- Eliza: During the novel there are many moments where Eliza is
shown to be in the midst of truth and lies. Out of all the characters in the book
Eliza is the only one who (for the majority) of the time knows the Truth about
Laura (also the truth about her father) which means throughout the novel she is
faced with the lies people have spun and begun to believe while only she knows
the truth. However in knowing the truth she begins to lie and unlike Charlie her
only reason to hide what she knows is out of guilt and grief (as Charlie hides the
truth in loyalty to Jasper and fear of being accused). This causes her to lie about

knowing where Laura went/ where she may be which leads people to spin their
own theories and ideas.
Event- Eliza tells Charlie what she knows: Upon being told Elizas share of
the story, Charlie realises that there are many unknown realities of the world,
whether truthful or misleading. Nevertheless, there is a very fine boundary
between them as they are often closely related. However, once he hears Elizas
side of the story, Charlie discovers that there is no solution in overcoming the
fine boundary between truth and lies as perspectives vary and often truth and
lies are the same.
Event- Charlie and Jasper meet Mad Jack Lionel: This event shows how lies
are often easier to believe and often the truth is twisted by people due to rage or
a loss of understanding. The meeting between MJL, Charlie and Jasper tells us of
course that MJL never actually killed anyone on purpose and the death of Jaspers
mother was entirely an accident. This of course proves that the rumours about
MJL being a serial killer are complete lies. And though it has stemmed from the
truth the actual events have been twisted by people due to not having all the
events of that night and the fact that people just needed someone to blame.
Internal conflict- Charlie has many internal conflicts during the text.
One is the decision to tell try truth or lie (by omission) about finding Lauras
body. This conflict reflects the theme of truth and lies, and relates to the
purpose of the text. Charlies thoughtfulness and consideration of his words and
actions, instead of jumping to conclusions based on the circumstance, is at odds
with the rest of the towns bias, unfounded judgement. This internal conflict
causes the reader to think carefully about the text, and Charlie's actions (i.e.
lying and resisting authority) contradict the values we are taught at school.
Seeing Charlie carefully think about the situation and his internal conflict, and
choose to lie anyway, forces us to consider the validity of base values we are
taught relating to truth and lies, and teaches us the importance of looking at
things situationally, not jumping to conclusions, and that the truth may not
always be the best thing to do, especially when protecting someone else.

Purpose: What does Craig Silvey want us to learn from this?

Through this theme of Truth and Lies, Silvey teaches us that not everything is
black and white. Sometimes, telling the truth isnt the right thing to do, such as if
Charlie had told the police the truth about Lauras disappearance (shes dead),
Jasper, an innocent boy, would have been blamed and arrested. Truth and lies
throughout the book also shows us how much of a struggle it is to conceal the
Truth from others even if it is the best course of action and often leads to a sort
of cage that makes people feel limited and watched in the way they act and what
they do. Silvey provides us the reader with an insight to this through the eyes of
Charlie as he feels paranoid and guilty a large amount of the time which forces
him to act differently and constantly be aware of what people around him are
doing and what they say.
The Corrupting Nature of Power

Setting: Corrigan is a small town; therefore people bestow trust in others,

especially authoritative figures like the police, and president shire. Because the
town is rather small, prejudice and rumours also spread around fast which
influences peoples mind-sets. The treatment to people who are from different
countries shows how racist and cruel the people of Corrigan are.
Conflict- Corrigan vs. Jasper: Due to the prejudice thoughts already existing
towards Aboriginals. Corrigan tends to always blame unfortunate events on
Jasper and use him as the scapegoat. Given the circumstances, his behaviour
allows readers to see the negative affect the isolation has on Jasper. Jasper is
forced to create a front of not caring when in fact the corruption and judgment
that is placed on Jasper forces him to be lonely and desperate for a normal life.
Character- Jasper: The corrupting nature of power is based largely on
prejudice. Thus, Jasper is a character in the novel who is constantly blamed for
the misdoings. Because of this, Jasper is the only character who realizes this
corrupting nature of power. Jaspers childhood was very different to everyone, he
mother was not alive and his father did not care for him. This caused Jasper to
steal and be rebellious in order for him to look after himself and care for himself.
Because of these events, the whole town had prejudice against Jasper.
Minor Character- chooses one: Mad Jack Lionel. Everyone in the town
believes in the rumours about Mad Jack Lionel that has been going on for years.
The rumour is that he murdered his daughter in law, but the truth is that she
died in car crash, while he was driving the car. Jack Lionel is an innocent man,
but because of the stories about him which spread through the town, everyone in
the town looks down on him and assumes he is mentally mad. We can see that
his life must be very tough, if everyone judges him and doesn't treat him the
same as everyone. Nobody even gives him the chance to speak and tell the truth
which would be able to settle things.
Event- When the Corrigan Police beat up Jasper. When Lauras body went
missing the corrupted Corrigan police immediately blamed Jasper and once again
used him as the scapegoat. The Police used their power and authority in the
town to beat him up and also make the town believe that it was Jasper who
kidnapped Laura. The people in power like the Corrigan Police are less likely to
be questioned by the people. This shows how the Corrigan Police is able to use
their power to manipulate the people.
Event- Laura and her dads conflict which shows us that her dad isnt as
reasonable as he seems. This shows corruption of power because fathers have
power over their daughters and he was abusing his authority as a father by
hitting her. He didnt help Lauras situation at all and let the truth behind the
town affect his relationship with his daughter. The truth behind the town reflects
on Lauras dad as an unworthy leader of Corrigan.
Internal conflict: Charlie whether to trust Jasper or not. He is influenced by
both the helps us understand that sometimes lying is not that negative as in this
case it helped save an innocent person which is Jasper. Before Charlie met
Jasper, his towns opinions of Jasper and his own trusting instinct. He cannot tell
anyone about the secret as he is trying to protect Jasper from the town. This is
because the town automatically will assume that Jasper murdered Laura.
Charlies internal conflict is that fact that he has to lie to everyone he knows in
order to protect his friend. This thought of Jasper in a negative way due to

everyone in the town spreading rumours about him. When Charlie met Jasper he
realised that those rumours were all not true, but it still took him some time to
fully be able to trust Jasper.
Purpose: What does Craig Silvey want us to learn from this? Corrupting nature
of power. The government has a heavy influence of power on Corrigan as it is a
small town. This means the government is very influential towards everyones
opinions of Jasper. The corruption nature of power is dominant over peoples
natural instincts, and influences peoples opinions towards what is morally
correct and wrong. People should learn to challenge the authority as they only
portray a superficial image.