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“I Want to Die as Myself”: Young Adult Dystopias, Cruelty, and Resistance

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Cruel Children in Popular Texts and Cultures

Part of the book series: Critical Approaches to Children's Literature ((CRACL))

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Abstract

In William Sleator’s 1974 House of Stairs, five adolescents are confined in a terrifying House of Stairs by a dystopian political regime. In the House, they become subject to behaviorist conditioning that transforms them into cruel antagonists. This chapter considers the ways in which some of Sleator’s characters resist this coercion, as well as the limits of that resistance. Although these rebellious protagonists do not manage to dismantle the evil system in which they find themselves, they are exiled to an “island of misfits” which might permit healthier relationships and less destructive emotional patterns. While pessimistic about the capacity of rebellion to topple dystopias, Sleator can envision a better future for a select group of nonconforming individuals.

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Correspondence to Carrie Hintz .

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Hintz, C. (2018). “I Want to Die as Myself”: Young Adult Dystopias, Cruelty, and Resistance. In: Flegel, M., Parkes, C. (eds) Cruel Children in Popular Texts and Cultures. Critical Approaches to Children's Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-72275-7_12

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