Child and Youth Care Forum

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 393-410

First online:

Hansel and Gretel at the Millennium: Shifting Multiple Identities in Youth's Search of Self

  • Elizabeth Chambers
  • , Marie L. HoskinsAffiliated withUniversity of Victoria Email author 
  • , Alan Pence

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The significant life events of 10 Canadian adolescents are compared to the ordeals of the fairy tale characters Hansel and Gretel. This comparison serves to uncover some of the current dominant discourse of our Western culture, including strongly preserved traditional discourses, within which these adolescents are embedded. The voices of the adolescents reveal their precarious, contradictory and in-process identities as they negotiate their developmental growth through day care, parental divorce, and loss of home, neighborhoods, and friends. This study provides a poststructural perspective to the life stories of these youth and offers youth workers strategies to support youth in exploring and calling into question their subjective knowing of their own identities and also the culture within which their identities have been constituted.