Rawlings’s The Yearling is A Pulitzer’s price winning novel, one of the most popular works disclosing a challenging and difficult life of the boy called Jody coming of age. At the end of the nineteenth century, the story describes one year from life of a twelve-years-boy and his experience of living in the backwoods with his mother and father. In the novel, the author provides her own view on the problems and challenges of growing up as well as children’s goals and dreams.
Hence, Jody adapts a deer in a hope to find at least one friend and someone who will understand his childish concerns. He feels the necessity to favor someone with warmth, love, and care (Rawlings 22). Therefore, it is not surprising that the novel is often labeled as children or juvenile literature because it sheds light on the problems of adolescence as well as constrains that children face while becoming adults. In this respect, the illustrations presented by N. C. Wyeth only complement the main idea of the story.
They also describe Jody’s adventures and his searching for self-determination. Finally, the pictures also provide the readers with a clearer image of boy’s maturing while encountering challenging situation and making important decisions. This is why the novel appeals greatly to children of the same age who have similar problems and who do not know how to make a right choice.
Wyeth’s illustrations render a patently personal interpretation of a novel, including its mood, aspirations, precipitations, and hopes. His pictures create a strong narrative sequence that modifies readers’ experience in many important ways. Moreover, Wyeth illustrations also enable readers to construct a story obtained from the presented visual performances.
While discussing the illustrations, the artist has provided for other stories, and the ones concerned in particular, Wyeth’s representations of different stories contribute significantly to achieving the fullness and completeness of the narrative (Gannon 92).
With regard to the illustrations provided for Rawlings’s novel, one can notice that both textual information and visual representations are closely intertwined with each other creating a harmonic tandem. It also reflects the interaction between images and the text through enhancing the main protagonists’ experiences and feelings, his primary intentions, and his attitude toward his family and the surrounding world.
According Silvey, Wyeth’s illustrations to The Yearning, “lent glamour to classics that lured even indifferent readers and kept some of the titles in print for generations” (481).
Though illustrations deviate from the classical representation of a coming-of-age novel in certain examples, the artist still manages to attract the readers and make them more interested in the story development (Rawlings 12). For example, the title of book mostly renders all information about the boy’s life and his endeavors to find place in life, as well as his desire to have someone he can look after.
Taking a closer look at Wyeth’s other illustrations dedicated to the novel, it is imperative to emphasize the author’s perspicacity and emotional filling under the influence of which all story-related images are created. These illustrations significantly contribute to the recreation of the novel details and the author’s intention to convey ideas and describe specific scenes.
Wyeth’s illustrations significantly enhance the power of narration because each image presented in book discloses the way the artist understands Rawlings’s story. More importantly, the illustrations render Wyeth’s own experience because he carefully considered most of his ideas before presenting them in a particular publication.
Particularly, the illustrator travelled to Florida to study the local peculiarities as well as the landscapes and this exploration greatly contributed to the representation of the main characters of the novel (Luce 77). While evaluating the picture depicting Jody Baxter sitting near the hearth and embracing the fawn, the reader is able to evaluate the realism of the story and imagine the hardships that young people may encounter to make their dreams come true.
The fawn depicted in the picture is also quite realistic and contributes to better understanding of the story (Luce 79). One can also notice a ray of hope in Jody’s eyes and the reader can understand that even without reading the text. Despite the completeness of the image, there is still a necessity to refer to Rawlings’ text to find deeper sense of visual representation.
Wyeth’s accent on realism is also presented in all his illustrations even if some fictional characters are presented in the picture. Such a realistic approach provides the readers with a broader experience while contemplating the historical and social background existing in the end of the nineteenth century.
In addition to realistic emphasis, the artist also introduces a melodrama component being an integral condition for conveying the author’s main idea. Looking at the pictures, one can understand that Wyeth realizes the importance of this component because exaggerated clarity is a priority for illustrative techniques (Nemerov 37).
In addition, Nemerov states that, “Wyeth was an “obvious” or theatrical painter because as an illustrator he is what he was supposed to be” (36). Hence, each scene depicted in the book provides a realistic and vivid picture of all events happened in the story (Nemerov 39). It is not a surprise that this realistic and vivid representation of literary scenes appeals greatly to children because some of the displayed motifs are quite close to the problems that children face in real life.
Reviewing all illustrations to the Rawlings’s book, one can state that N. C. Wyeth’s soft, warm images successfully manage to capture the epoch of sweet survival and rough subsistence. Existential notes expressed through rough strokes in the picture contribute to a realistic representation of the novel (Heller and Arisman 11). The realism is especially seen in the picture describing a boy holding deer near the hearth.
More importantly, the artist also successfully renders the emotional background of the picture when playing with shadows and incorporating specific elements. Despite the dimness and homeliness of the time described in the novel, the author still resorts to a full-color pallet to highlight the most salient episodes of a literary work, which also contributes to better understanding of social and historical underpinnings of the novel (Heller and Arisman 11).
It should also be stressed that N. C. Wyeth’s major goal was storytelling rather than representing images because picture often precedes the text and language, which is the main essence of illustrations (Heller and Arisman 13). While reading Rawlings’s novel and previewing the pictures first, a reader can be immediately introduced to the details that will be further described and explained in the text.
All his childish, exaggerated, and romantic interpretations, therefore, have significantly enhanced the power of classical coming-of-age novel because the majority of the pictures represent maximalist tendencies in depicting landscapes and portraits where the major focus is made on the radical representation of certain episodes that are specifically highlighted by the writer (Silvey 482).
At the same time, Wyeth does not provide some additional elements that distract the viewers from the original content. On the contrary, his images enrich emotional, social, and historical background of the depicted events.
Being absorbed with romantic representation, Wyeth is significantly committed to the hero’s endeavors to overcome the existing adversities. With regard to the above, the mode of representation attracts young readers and makes them more involved into the plot of the story. This is natural because children’s inner world and imagination can be significantly enhanced by the visual representations of the novel characters.
In conclusion, novel’s affiliation to the children’s literature is evident because it represents a classical narration of the boy coming of age and searching for a better life. His dreams and overwhelming expectations are hilariously rendered by Rawlings and significantly enhanced by N. C. Wyeth.
The illustrations also shed light the problem of adolescence that most youngsters experience at the age of twelve. Consequently, the usage of full-color palette, exaggerated clarity of representation enabling the readers to “read” the information contributes to understanding the main idea of the novel.
In addition, the visual information about Jody’s experiences in treating a fawn and the severities the hero confronts when he has to abandon the animal because of famine and lack of means for existence can be more explicitly understood while looking at the illustrations. Furthermore, some of the drawings look quite realistic because of the true scenes and landscapes illustrated.
Gannon, Susan. The Illustrator as Interpreter: N. C. Wyeth’s Illustrations for the Adventure Novels of Robert Louis Stevenson (Gannon). Children’s Literature. 19 (1991): 90-106. Print.
Heller, Steven and Marshal Arisman: The Education of an Illustrator. US: Allworth Communications, Inc., 2000. Print.
Luce, Henry, Ed. Childhood Idols: Jack, Jody, Hans, and Heidi. Life. 43.24 (1957): 75-79.
Nemerov, Alexander. N. C. Wyeth’s Theater of Illustration. American Art. 6.2 (1992): 36-57.
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan. The Yearling. US: Collier MacMillan Publishers, 1988. Print.
Silvey, Anita. The Essential Guide to Children’s Books and Their Creators. US: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002.