In this article I examine how child soldier narratives address the concept of childhood as it relates to their young protagonists. I begin with a brief examination of the most prominent characteristics that define childhood in North America, the primary target market for these works. I draw on these concepts in my analysis of how the characters mature in their respective texts. The genre presents an alternative (though not preferable) model for childhood development: chronological age is diminished by military rank, the binary opposition between soldiers and civilians replaces graduated social distinctions between adults and children, and war disrupts the ostensibly natural developmental processes. Moreover, the genre suggests that rehabilitation is only possible through relocation to the West. I conclude that although the genre does offer portrayals of more normative childhoods in Africa, these alternative examples are obscured by the sensational depiction of the lost childhoods of child soldier characters.


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pp. 39-55
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