Saunders' Capable: A Child Overcoming Adult Reality

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

April 2017

Faculty Sponsor

Jacky O'Connor


In 2000, George Saunders wrote The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip. The children’s story tells the tale of a young girl named Capable, and her struggles to find how to survive when her monetary substance is emaciated and her neighbors refuse to offer her help. This essay is an examination of Gappers through multiple lenses: through the criticism of Saunders’ work, theoretical concepts applied to Gappers, and through the pedagogical morality that is presented. This three-prong analysis first reviews previous criticism on Saunders’ work to create the framework through which to understand Saunders as an author. The critical analyses of Saunders’ works reveals similar themes class struggle, reality, and human relationships. After discussing previous criticism, the essay addresses the simulacra, proposed by Baudrillard and applied in the criticism, as a key theoretical concept that informs how Capable constructs her reality within Gappers, and, more importantly, how Capable retains meaning within that reality. The final section of this essay considers the different pedagogical impacts Gappers might have on both children and adults. While adult readers may more easily pick up on Saunders’ themes of class struggle, children are more receptacle to Gappers’ themes of friendship, forgiveness, and literacy.

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