A discourse analysis of a personal narrative told by an adolescent boy in a Cape Town children's home.
MetadataShow full item record
Storytelling serves many purposes. People often tell stories as a coping mechanism, as a way of self-representation, and as a means for self-reflection. Through stories, narrators construct identities and gain perspective on events in their lives. This thesis is a discourse analysis of a single narrative told by a young man staying at a children's home in Cape Town. The study explores how life events are presented and evaluated in narrative and analyses the construction of identities. The objectives of the study are threefold. Firstly it aims to explore how the narrator draws on different social discourses in the telling of his narrative. Secondly, it analyses how, through the telling of these events, identities are constructed. Finally, the study assesses how the participant builds evaluation into his narrative. The study’s overall purpose is to gain an understanding of narrative identities. The analysis reveals that Lucas develops three Master Narratives relating to the themes of family, education and drugs. His attitudes towards all three are ambivalent and he weaves competing discourses into his narrative in relation to each. He seeks, through his story, to construct himself as a wise young man who - having experimented with drugs and dropped out of school - makes the decision to redeem himself by going back to school, rejecting drugs, and mending his ties with his family. In this sense, his narrative is like an archetypal Bildungsroman. The study takes a qualitative approach and is situated within the fields of Discourse Analysis, more specifically, narrative analysis. The main theoretical influences in the study include Tannen (1989/2007; 2008) and Labov (1972). The analysis of this study focuses on identifying the Master Narratives that shape Lucas's story as well as the discourses and competing ideologies which support these Master Narratives.