Analyzing the Children’s Book The Journey Using Greimas’ Semiotic Analysis

Author/s:

DOI: 10.12738/mejrs.2018.3.1.0005

Year: 2018 Vol: 3 Number: 1

Abstract

Groups defined as refugees, asylum seekers, or immigrants have faced us in recent years through aid campaigns in the media or news programs framed in negative contexts like tragic life struggles, judicial cases, violence, and abuse. The political, humane, and social dimensions of the topic, being different from the world media, have taken place on Turkey’s agenda because of both its geographical and historical proximity. The way that refugees are discussed in various media circles shows that humanity in our era is still passing a serious and nasty test in terms of many concepts like freedom, human rights, equality, coexistent culture, and beyond. Being enriched from many factors experienced in real life, meanwhile, children’s books and literature on the issue of refugees’ condition carry particular importance in terms of children who read being able to show empathy while gaining an awareness of this reality in the proper direction. The illustrated children’s book The Journey is worth investigating in terms of being a literary work that takes children as the target audience; includes violence, conflict, and death; and at the same time narrates a traumatic subject drawn from real life, such as being a refugee. In the study, this children’s book was chosen because of targeting small children from within similar books functioning on the same topic and, by being translated into 12 languages, for its ability to reach worldwide readership. The aim of the research is to scrutinize a realistic topic in a children’s book by arriving at the various layers forming the literary meaning of the text with the help of semiotics through the example of agents using Greimas’ semiotic method and exposing the agents, the functions they explain, and the relationships among them. Greimas’ semiotic method, which describes the people located in the narrative according to their function, appears to have limited use in analyses related to children’s content in the literature. No Turkish analyses are encountered that have been performed with this method on realistic constructs referring to traumatic issues in particular or that need to be told using highly attentive language for children. In the analysis, the use of combining contrasts like war-peace, fear-hope, and separation-union, in spite of the uneasy atmosphere of the literary text, was dominantly seen as an optimistic and hopeful language of expression in the story. This preferred perspective provides an appropriate expression for children to read that is far from the topic of violence.

Keywords
Children’s books, Illustrated stories, Semiotics, Refugees, War

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