A successful text is one that unsettles the reader. to what extent is this true? Refer to 'After the First Death' by Robert Cormier

Essay by elle_fondaHigh School, 12th gradeA+, May 2004

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Generally, it is believed that in order for an author to write a successful text, they need to effectively engage their audience and maintain their interest throughout by incorporating aspects they know will prove appealing and entertaining. However, the more experienced reader should have developed a different understanding of reasons for why a text may be successful. Texts can be written in order to be received on a deeper level, by placing the reader in a position they may not be accustomed to, and one where they are confronted with issues that are challenging.

Robert Cormier is a highly skilful and successful writer and one of the reasons for his success is his ability to write unusual and unique novels. He does not write to fulfil a reader's expectations by proving satisfyingly predictable. Instead, he constructs his texts in order to unsettle the reader, and positions them to question their views and attitudes.

Cormier's novel, After the First Death, is seemingly just a typical thriller involving a bus of young children and their driver, Kate, who are taken hostage by a group of terrorists, the main two referred to as Artkin and Miro. Mark, an anti-terrorism general, uses his own son, Ben, to launch a counter-attack against the terrorists. This plot creates an interesting story line, however, Cormier wrote After the First Death to work on a much deeper level. The reader's views of western society are challenged by the text and the extent to which they are altered indicates the success of the novel.

Growing up in a western society, we, as citizens, are influenced heavily by the media and are positioned to view terrorists in an entirely negative light. They are portrayed as merciless, cold-blooded killers of innocent civilian life, and before reading After the...