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The kids are more mature than the adults!

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Tiffany Toombs Ontario High School Student 7
14 March 2013
*Spoiler Alert; This essay contains spoilers, read at your own discretion*
Immaturity vs. Maturity in the Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy is a novel deemed by many to be filled with horrific themes and dark tones. Yet upon further review, readers can see that Rowling purposefully inserts this darkness in order to show her views of our modern society. J.K. Rowling uses this novel in order to ridicule modern day society and the idea that children have become more mature than the parents, conflicting with the idealistic circumstances in which the parents are more mature. The purpose of this paper is to prove Rowling portrays these conflicting maturity levels through both the Price family and the Weedon family. In order to see this concept, one must keep in mind the Sullivan Piaget thesis while reading the novel. With this in mind, readers can distinguish the mockery of our current society and the evident preference to a traditional ideal.
The study of emotional and social human development has many different theories, but in Rowling’s novel, the Sullivan-Piaget thesis is the theory most closely modeled. Unlike most theories, he simply defines maturity and immaturity in a very specific way and does not put an age limit with the definition(Youniss). This theory defines immaturity as:
An exaggerated sense of one’s uniqueness; efforts to conceal one’s deficiencies; an emphasis of pleasing others while striving to meet one’s approval; and the inability to merge one’s personhood with that of another’s (Youniss).
The fact that there is no age limit implies that not all adults are immature and not all teens are immature. Furthermore, teens reach “maturity” when they decipher the wrong-doings of their parents and adult role-models and are able to realize they are not right all the time. Once this occurs, they break off from their parents and start to “take responsibility for aspects of their own character” (Cardillo). Although there is no age associated with this theory, maturity usually takes place in a person’s teenage years. This is not always the case, however, as portrayed in the novel. These mature and immature characteristics of maturity and immaturity are closely followed in the novel.
In the novel, Simon Price is portrayed through his words and actions as immature. Simon is loud and demeaning toward his family throughout the pages written by Rowling. Simon has no self-control and becomes blinded by rage over and over again. He is aware of his short temper, yet he just does not care. “He did not want to let [his anger] go. He wanted to vent his tension in a cathartic outburst of rage” (Rowling 134). Simon contains no desire to control his fury. When Simon finds out that “The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother” has made him look bad on the internet, he believes the culprit to be Shirley Mollison. But that does not stop him from attacking his family. He takes out his rage on Andrew when he says “Well this is the real world, Pizza Face! F****** everywhere trying to do you down!” (Rowling 346). His uncontrolled attacks against his family are a form of childish behavior. Instead of attempting to discuss the situation calmly, he blindly rages against his own son. Simon’s immaturity is further displayed in his inability to compromise with others. Simon avoided even talking to other humans, let along having a decent conversation with them, or attempting to be nice to them.
On the very rare occasions that Simon came face-to-face with a person he felt like courting…Simon would talk over them, crack clumsy jokes and often stepped, unwittingly, on all kinds of sensitivities, because he neither knew anything, nor cared much about the people with whom he was forced to converse. (Rowling 139).
Socially, Simon has no idea how to manage, thus magnifying his immaturity level. Furthermore, Simon will go out of his way to prove how much different and more superior he is to everyone else. Simon “had developed a habit of countering [Ruth’s] use of medical terms with crude, ignorant suggestions” (Rowling 13). Simon did not want to believe his wife may have more knowledge than him on any subject, so by mocking her words, he attempted to act smarter and reasoned himself to be more superior than her. The fact that Rowling uses the word ignorant also leads one to believe Simon is acting immature. He does not know how to act mature or admit that sometimes he can be wrong. Simon is actively portrayed by Rowling as immature throughout the novel.
This is part one of the essay: Part two in in the following comment.
Works Cited
Cardillo, Maren. "Intimate Relationships: Personality Development Through Interaction
DuringEarly Life." Intimate Relationships. Northwestern University, Aug. 1998. Web. 25
Feb. 2013.
Rowling, J. K. The Casual Vacancy. New York: Little, Brown and, 2012. Print.
Youniss, James. Parents and Peers in Social Development: A Sullivan-Piaget Perspective.
Chicago: University of Chicago, 1980. Print.


Tiffany Toombs This is part two of the maturity essay.
Ontario Student 7

Ruth is also portrayed as immature throughout the novel, because of her passiveness and her inability to stand up for herself and her children. Ruth is a character that has been portrayed by Rowling as naïve and innocent because of the fact that she continually gives into her husbands wishes and does not truly make her own decisions. It specifically states in the Sullivan-Piaget thesis that “an emphasis of pleasing others while striving to meet one’s approval” is a form of immaturity (Youniss). She stays with Simon for all of these years, trying to go on with a “normal” life. When Simon is on one of his rages, Ruth whispers to her sons “It’s a terrible shock for him,” as if to make an excuse for his actions. By trying to cover up his actions, Ruth hopes that she will receive Simon’s approval, and maybe even his love. Ruth does not want to believe that Simon could actually not love her. She believes that he chose her, so she must be special and he must love her. She lives her life attempting to please Simon, and never living for herself or her children. Ruth’s naivety allows for her children to be subjected to the emotional and physical abuse of Simon.
Simon and Ruth’s son Andrew attempts to oppose this concept of immaturity shown in his parents; and make himself out to be more mature. In the case of Simon, Andrew takes on the role of the adult because, for the most part, he keeps his opinions to himself. By looking at his thoughts while his father is enraged, readers can see his true feelings. Lines like “You’re a lying f****** b******” and “Up you’re a***” give the reader a clear picture of what is going on in his mind (Rowling 136). He is mad and even defiant, but he is more mature than his father because of the fact that he keeps his opinions to himself. Andrew shows a great amount of self-control, which his father lacks. As the teen, Andrew shows the self-control that parents are supposed to have when talking to their children. Andrew is not only compensating for Simon, he is also making up for Ruth’s actions. Andrew must compensate for her passiveness in dealing with Simon. While he usually does not tell Simon what is really on his mind, he is brace enough to get the truth out to the people of Pagford. While Ruth is making excuses, Andrew is getting his opinion out there through “The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother”. While going behind someone’s back is usually considered childish, in this case, Andrew is looking out for the good of others. Through the ghost, Andrew is ultimately protecting his family and the community from Simon’s harsh and shameful ways. Andrew does not want Simon to run for the council, because he knows of the inappropriate ways he uses his authority. When Andrew heard his father was running, his subconscious thought was “You’ve got to be f****** joking. You? Standing for election? Oh f***, no” (Rowling 134). If he were to go to the public and directly address them, he would be putting himself in danger of his father’s punishments. So rather than directly putting himself in danger, he warns the public indirectly that his father is not fit for the job. Because of the immature acts of his parents, Andrew was forced at a young age to realize his parents were not always right, which required him to mature much more quickly than a typical child. The Price family, however, is not the only example in which this maturity reversal is present.
The maturity level is also reversed in the case of the Weedon family, specifically with Terri and Krystal. Terri Weedon’s character is also portrayed as immature throughout the entirety of the novel. Terri, a drug addict and an unfit mother, who does not seem to care about her family. The only thing that she seems to care about is getting her next drug fix. In the definition of immaturity it states that “efforts to conceal one’s deficiencies” and “not taking responsibility” are two major signs of immaturity (Youniss). She cannot even take care of herself, and unsuccessfully tries to hide her drug addiction from her social worker. Terri continually insists “I ain’t f****** used, you ain’t got no proof” (Rowling 109). It is clear to Krystal and the social worker that Terri had been using, yet she continually tries to hid that factor of her life. Terri’s drug addiction can be classified as a deficiency, which makes Terri very much a part of the immaturity definition. Both social workers, Mattie and Kay, continually tell Terri that if she does not rearrange her priorities and look after her son, they will take her two remaining children away. While she does not want this, Terri refuses to change. “We need to see a change” is said often throughout the first meeting with the social workers (Rowling 113). As the novel progresses, the reader realizes that Terri is not going to change. Terri is further portrayed as immature because she does not attempt or even come close to succeeding in taking responsibility for anything. When Kay, the social worker, asks Krystal if her mom helps with Robbie, she replies with “Not m’mother, gran” (Rowling 70). She cannot even help with caring for Robbie, let alone be a parent to him. Ultimately, these factors allow for Terri to be considered immature in the eyes of the reader.
As the immature acts of Terri cause her family to collapse, Krystal Weedon must become more mature in order to take care of her brother. In the past, when Terri had a relapse in her recovery from alcohol, the children were sent off to live with Nana Cath, Terri’s grandmother. But sickness keeps her from being able to care for the children, leaving the problem on the shoulders of sixteen year old Krystal. The responsibility of caring for Robbie, combined with school and her own responsibilities, creates both emotional and physical stress on Krystal. However, Krystal loves Robbie and will do anything to keep her and her brother together, even if it means staying with her mother and having to care for him herself. She shows maturity to the reader by trying to balance school, homework and caring for her brother. While Krystal is not always successful, the attempted acts show her maturity. By using the definition of maturity, readers can see that Krystal does not depend on her mother for anything, let alone not realize she might not be right all the time. In fact, in Krystal’s case it is quite the opposite. She does not rely on her mother, she only relies on herself. Krystal has seemed to accept the fact that her mother is not going to change. She knows in her heart that her mother loves drugs more than she loves her family. When Robbie is killed towards the end, Krystal blames herself. “Robbie was dead, and it was her fault. In trying to save him, she had killed him” (Rowling 480). Krystal takes his death to heart and blames herself. She does not account for the fact that she should not have had the responsibility in the first place. By taking on the responsibility of Robbie, Krystal proves her maturity to the reader.
The immature actions of the parents and the more mature acts of the children mock the modern concept of independence of children. Having the parents act juvenile while the children act more mature causes more disruptive of lives than helpful. The independence of the children allows for detrimental mistakes that cause consequences as horrifying as death. Rowling purposely gives these characters the deadly consequences to further mock modern society. By using instances of rape and death, readers can draw the conclusion that if different decisions were made, the outcome would have been different as well. If the parents had acted mature, than maybe these horrific events never would have happened. She uses these consequences to show her bias to traditional family concepts.
Works Cited
Cardillo, Maren. "Intimate Relationships: Personality Development Through Interaction
DuringEarly Life." Intimate Relationships. Northwestern University, Aug. 1998. Web. 25
Feb. 2013.
Rowling, J. K. The Casual Vacancy. New York: Little, Brown and, 2012. Print.
Youniss, James. Parents and Peers in Social Development: A Sullivan-Piaget Perspective.
Chicago: University of Chicago, 1980. Print.


Nina I agree that many occurrences of the novel have proved the adults to be rather immature. However, I'd like to know more about Piaget's explanation of maturity bc the only definition you had offered was one that only applied to teenagers and how they reach maturity. Also, IMO Andrew's post is more immature bc he does it more out of spite for his father and not concern for Pagford. You neglect to mention many other events that point to the immaturity of the kids' actions. As for the effects of this role reversal, how exactly does Rowling mock society? She definitely points out that it occurs but I don't see how it is necessarily emphasized or mocked by the words of the novel.


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