Poetics and Politics of Subversion in Mildred Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry and Beverley Naidoo’s The Other Side of Truth

Nedal Al-Mousa


The paper examines predominant subversive discourses employed in Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry (1976), and Beverley Naidoo's The Other Side of Truth (2000). This peculiar quality of the narrative is well accentuated in the foregrounding of marginalized people, especially children, as the central characters in the two novels. The stories in the two novels are told from the point of view of children. Seeing events in the two novels through the eyes of oppressed young children offers a fresh vision of the social and psychological reality for children as they struggle against the structures of different types of authority that dominate the social, political, and cultural world they live in. Characteristically, children in the two novels are presented as both victimized by the dominant power structure and as capable of interrogating and resisting that power structure. The subversive agency given to children in the two novels will be viewed as part of a wider context of disruption of traditional structures of power and authority in the time and place in which the action in each of the two novels is set. In The Other Side of Truth, the action is substantially set in England in the late 1990s. The main bulk of the action in this novel revolves around the injustices, racial discrimination, and oppression inflicted on two Nigerian young children (Sade and Femi) who are smuggled to England to escape punishment in their country on account of their father’s radical political views. This state of affairs in The Other Side of Truth invites comparison with the moral plight of several children in Roll of Thunder. The action of this novel, which is set in America during the years 1933-41, deals mainly with the injustices a white, racist, and lawless society inflicts on African American families in rural Mississippi. The children’s remarkable resistance as a means of counteracting the practices of power figures is a pivotal issue in the two novels. The narrative's peculiar gravitation towards promoting subversive ideologies that undermine the prevailing power structures presented in the two novels reflects the two novelists’ commitment to radical political agendas, agendas that give the two novels their ideological and political structures.


Discourse, Subversive, Agency, Power, Politics, Ideology

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