Silencing and Subjugation Masquerading as Love and Understanding: Sonya Hartnett's The Ghost's Child

Maureen Clark


Astrid Lindgren Award winner Sonya Hartnett's work is always many-layered, intriguing and thought-provoking. This study considers The Ghost Child, a fictional memoir of families and relationships, in a post-colonial context and, while it speaks of timeless universal human interests such as resilience, love, loss and longing, dependency and betrayal, it also works allegorically as a reminder that how we see ourselves is shaped by the historical and cultural discourses which define us. More specifically, the novel brings to light the power-imbalances often found across cultures in the practice of everyday post-colonial life.

Therefore, this paper argues that the authority contained in Hartnett’s principal character’s “living” voice masks colonial discourses of silencing and subjugation in play. When considered in these terms, The Ghost Child becomes an artistic forum for the unearthing of how colonialism’s self-serving, discursive representations have, historically, spoken for colonised individuals, children and adults alike, denying them equal participation in the affairs of life.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680