Explore Pierre’s presentation of ideas concerning homosexuality and teenagers in Vernon God Little. In the novel, ‘Vernon God Little’ by DCB Pierre we see the presentation of teenage life and also homosexuality through the characters of Vernon Little and Jesus Navarro. As the book was published eight years prior to us reading it, the views Pierre presents could be different to our own. Also, Pierre’s age and up bringing add to the way he portrays different aspects of life. I believe that in ‘Vernon God Little’ Pierre presents teenagers as rude, bad mannered and impatient and homosexuals in a negative light.
We are introduced to Vernon’s character whilst he is in prison. Pierre’s lexis tells us straight away that Vernon is a teenager as ‘Don’t even try to guess who stood all Tuesday night in the road. Clue: snotty ole Mrs. Lechuga’ page 1. The colloquial language creates a sense of childishness, which is enhanced by the insults describing Mrs. Lechuga. The word ‘ole’ suggests that Vernon believes everyone to be old in contrast to him. This is shown throughout the novel as Pierre repeats the insult.
Also, Pierre’s use of the colon represents how Vernon did not wait for an answer, but instead carries on his trail of thought, pointing towards an impatient nature which is associated with teenagers. This technique is shown again on the same page when Vernon is thinking back to ‘that ole black guy who was in the news last winter’ page 1. This story is also used to show Vernon’s discomfort in his current situation. Pierre cleverly uses the story so Vernon can avoid talking about his own situation, as if ignoring it will make it disappear.
This can be linked with Jesus’ philosophical question to Vernon at the end of chapter two ‘that if things don’t happen unless you see them happening. ’ page 18. This signifies teenage attitude as they are both trying to shift the guilt and the blame- Jesus with the massacre he commits and Vernon with the fact he is wrongly in prison. Another essential moment to show teenage attitude is when Vernon is contemplating whether or not to phone Taylor. To decide a conclusion he flips a coin ‘it comes down heads which means I call her in Houston immediately. page 154. Pierre uses this technique to show the reader how Vernon is trying to shift any pressure he can as he is finding it hard to deal with being on the run and the death of his school mates. Furthermore, at the end of chapter one, suspicions begin to arise about Vernon’s sexuality ‘Regular boy then, are you son? Like your cars, and your guns? And your-girls? ’ page 10. Pierre’s choice of the word ‘regular’ shows the reader that the Martirio society is not accepting of homosexuals.
This is supported by the homophobic attacks that people have had to suffer for years. In the past three years, one in five gay people have been subjected to homophobic hate crime (found http://www. guardian. co. uk/society/2008/jun/26/equality. gayrights) . Pierre also uses rhetorical questions here and does not give Vernon time to answer any questions except the one about girls. This suggests the idea that the interviewer was only interested in Vernon’s sexuality. This accusation adds strain to Vernon’s character as he is trying to be a ‘regular’ teenager.
Vernon also keeps changing his middle name throughout the novel; this shows that he is having trouble accepting himself and also the situation that he is in. The way the name constantly changes is a metaphor for how society and Vernon’s situation keeps changing. For example, on page 2 Pierre calls him ‘Vernon Genius Little’. In context we see that Vernon mocks himself here which enhances the struggle for identity and how he is being punished for being different. Subsequently, we are able to see that Pierre uses his characters to question homosexuality, but he never has them ask about sexuality straight out.
Instead they avoid the subject which is a reflection of society’s reaction towards homosexuality in 2003 – when the novel was published. A good example of this is when Vernon is being interviewed on page 10 ‘Examine Little’s clothes did you? ’ ‘Undergarments? ’ Pierre is also able to portray the communities view on homosexuality through the character of Barry Gurie. At the end of chapter six, Gurie is questioning Vernon and starts teasing him about Jesus and his pending sexuality – ‘You aint tossin the ham javelin all night long, thinkin of your meskin boy? Grr-hrr-hrr’ Page 60.
Pierre’s use of vulgar imagery illustrates how the community feels towards homosexuality. The potential rejection adds to Vernon’s struggle for identity. The laughter at the end of the line indicates the people in the community do not take homosexuality or teenagers seriously and think of them as things to laugh at. In the second chapter, Pierre introduces Jesus Navarro during a flashback of Vernon’s. The first accusation of his sexuality is how ‘they found him wearing silk panties’ page 16. This is very effeminate and leads reader to question his sexuality.
Pierre also tells us how Jesus’ father instantly denies that his son wore the lingerie by choice- ‘his ole man says the cops planted them on him’ Page 16. The way Pierre mentions Mr. Navarro’s outrage at the underwear but not the loss of his son or the massacre could also symbolise how the community finds fault in Jesus as a person without paying respect to his life. It is symbolic of how people instantly find fault in others. Chapter two also subtly points out how Jesus was being sexually abused by Marion Nuckles and Dr. Goosens- ‘Nuckles recommended his to a shrink. Jesus got worse after that. Page 17. Pierre’s use of a short sentence creates a sense of worry. It allows the reader to understand that Vernon was worried about Jesus without having to vocalise it. This relates back to Vernon’s pride and how teens are perceived as not caring and shouldn’t talk about their feelings. The allegations of Jesus’ abuse are confirmed at the end of the novel in the form of his suicide note-‘you sed it was love you batsards’ Page 275. The wrong spellings suggest that Jesus was uneducated which is a stereotype of those from other cultures forced to learn our own culture.
Also the use of the word ‘bastards’ means a child born out of wedlock and Pierre used it here as it symbolises the bad relationships shared between Jesus and the elder men. The note is important to the plot as it seals that fate of Nuckles and Goosens. It shows that the police are able to prosecute Nuckles and Goosens. In conclusion, I feel that Pierre perceives homosexuality in a bad light. This is because the three characters that were openly homosexual – Jesus, Nuckles and Goosens – do not get the stereotypical ‘happy ever after’ like the other characters.
This could show that society’s prejudice views can manipulate people’s minds and force them to go to extreme lengths. He also presents teenagers in both good and bad ways which indicates that not every teenager is the same and Pierre could not pin point a single action which defined every single person. this is because teenagers are misunderstood by other people and Pierre wanted to reflect that in his writing. Bibliography: Pierre, DBC, Vernon God Little, 2003 FF Faber AQA Exploring Literature AS and A Level http://www. guardian. co. uk/society/2008/jun/26/equality. gayrights 1205 words