“The Hope – the One Hope – is that Your Generation Will Prove Wiser and More Responsible than Mine:” Constructions of Guilt in a Selection of Disaster Texts for Young Adults

Elizabeth Braithwaite


This paper explores a range of definitions of guilt, and argues that fiction for young adults which is set after a major disaster that has been caused by humans has surprisingly little emphasis on guilt. Focusing on Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells, Nuclear War Diary by James E. Sanford (Jr), The Last Children by Gudrun Pausewang, The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd and its sequel, The Carbon Diaries 2017, and Days Like Thisby Alison Stewart, the paper argues that in post-nuclear texts for young adults the emphasis tends to be on the perceived responsibility of the young adult reader’s generation to work towards preventing the disaster from becoming reality, rather than on the guilt of the adult generation that caused the disaster. However, in texts dealing with environmental disaster, the young adult reader’s generation can be seen to have some measure of culpability, and so the issues of guilt and responsibility become more complex.

Keywords: nuclear; environment; carbon; climate change; fiction; responsibility

(Published: 15 May 2012)

Citation: Barnboken tidskrift för barnlitteraturforskning/Journal of Children’s Literature Research, Vol. 35, 2012 http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/clr.v35i0.15316


nuclear; environment; carbon; climate change; fiction; responsibility

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14811/clr.v35i0.138


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Barnboken – Journal of Children's Literature Research eISSN 2000-4389
This journal is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Responsible editor: Lillemor Torstensson