After January deals with the important issues for young adults in Australia in ways to which they can easily relate.
‘ Discuss your responses to the themes and issues of the novel.’After January’, a novel by Nick Earls, explores all of the important issues that young adults can relate to easily. Alex Delaney is introduced as a recent high school graduate awaiting the envelope containing his future: his tertiary results. As the novel unfolds, Nick Earls portrays various customary themes and issues through Alex who demonstrates what a typical high school graduate may experience after departing school.
The tertiary results and Alex’s stress become a foreground for the novel but as the novel evolves other issues such as love and responsibility start to emerge. In turn, these smaller themes help to emphasise the main idea of the text and contribute to the outcome of the story.Alex portrays a newly graduated high school student waiting for his future to be decided, waiting for his tertiary scores. Typically for those in a similar situation, he is stressed and is finding it hard to concentrate on anything else. It’s the summer holidays, and as usual Alex and his mum are at their holiday house on the Sunshine Coast, but something is different this year. His usual routine has been broken and Alex finds himself with more freedom and responsibility. He has no school to return to at the end of holidays and from spending the majority of his life in schooling it all of a sudden seems wiped from his life. Instead of dreading going back to school, he is dreading the days until he receives his university results:”It’s as though the future is held here.
..It’s hard not to think about the day I’m waiting for.
” (pg. 1)Nothing can stop Alex from thinking about his scores. As a reader we experience the feelings he obtains through the way he thinks and acts.
We discover that Alex is going through similar circumstances of many young adults throughout Australia and in turn makes it easy for some of the readers to relate to the feelings of nervousness and anxiety that is felt through such a time. Using a character such as Alex, an imaginative, likeable and hard working graduate, guides the readers through the story with the hope that he receives the results he desires. It’s a familiar place for most young adults who reach the end of high school.
Receiving your results from a stressful and hard year of school is a big part of life that is taken so seriously, as though this one envelope determines the rest of your life.Love is explored by the text through the interactions and relationships of the characters, and can be read as a main theme. Alex finds himself obsessing over a girl he notices on the beach and in time begins to see her on a regular basis. He forms a strong relationship with this girl, Fortuna, and his feelings for her continue to grow as they get closer.
Alex’s fondness of Fortuna gets him distracted and he somehow becomes less stressed about receiving that envelope in a few days.”I still want the result, but it’s not the only thing in my head any more.” (pg.
141)(Analyse section on love)With the coming of freedom, also comes responsibility. As Alex leaves school, he finds himself with more expectations and dependability in his life. Becoming a young adult, Alex starts to discover his independence throughout the story, he stays on the holiday by himself, goes shopping and even has to solve a plumbing problem.”I’m not sure what I should do…my mind is on the plumbing the whole time..
. it’s entrusted to me” (pg. 106,107)Fixing a malfunctioning toilet is a responsibility that Alex may have encountered for the first time. Although it’s something small, he has been left alone entrusted with the safe keeping of the house and its belongings and it therefore leaves him accountable. It’s up to Alex to act on the issue, and fix the toilet. In regards to the quoted text, Alex finds this as a new experience, he himself knows that this is a new area for him and is uncertain of the actions he needs to take.
As Alex begins to make decisions on what needs to be done, we as readers see a small development in his maturity as he carries out his actions. The pressure of growing up after leaving high school is put upon Alex not only by his parents but also by society itself. This feeling of pressure to grow up is placed upon most students when leaving school or becoming an adult and is familiar to the readers as they read into Alex’s emotions as if they were their own.The use of contemporary issues amongst young adults ties together a novel appealing to readers who fall under a similar category. Creating a realistic character like Alex helps readers to relate to the novel, engaging them in a story that touches on themes and issues that are familiar. Alex’s emotions and experiences invite readers to think about the ways in which a young adult may experience life after school.
Although centred on the arrival of university results, After January incorporates themes that advance the story and leave some issues unresolved.