Resisting the will to empathise with a focalised character is assumed to be difficult for young readers, yet empirical evidence on how they actually respond is limited. This paper combines recent insights gleaned from cognitive literary studies with a small-scale empirical study of thirty-five Swedish adolescents reading an Irish short story in order to investigate how teenagers respond to a text which is strongly focalised through a single character. The students were asked to rewrite the events in the story from another character’s point of view. Their texts were coded and analysed, as were follow-up interviews with six students. The findings indicate that Swedish-speaking teenage readers rarely have difficulty resisting focalisation, but they often struggle with irony.
- Adolescent reading