Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Link to Mary Connolly's Senior Art Thesis

Ellen  Hopkins

Mary  Connolly 
Richard Nixon and California

The Development of Teen Identities in Ellen Hopkins’ Novels

Ellen Hopkins’ novels reflect the problems that plague numerous young adults today. Teens in society constantly face problems that influence the development of their identities. Being forced to deal with adult issues such as drug abuse, sexuality, and pregnancy at an early age often leaves many teens feeling isolated from others. Novels such as Burned and Crank exemplify these problems because they are stories of teenagers and their encounters with these issues. The adolescent protagonist Pattyn struggles in the novel Burned. Her traditional Mormon faith believes that women are meant to be respectful and obey the rules set forth by the Church; meanwhile her peers are experimenting with alcohol and pre-marital sex. Pattyn’s crisis with her identity comes in trying to balance her parents’ expectations with the temptation of her friends. Like most adolescents, while searching for her identity Pattyn encounters obstacles. These temptations cloud her decision making skills and eventually lead to her decline.

Obstacles also confronted politician Richard M. Nixon. While he was searching for his identity as a politician, he encountered many trying obstacles that molded him into a hard-working and dedicated politician. Over the course of history, many presidents of the United States started their careers as congressmen or senators. As for Richard Nixon, his early political career in the House and Senate truly made him one of the most controversial leaders in American history. This future president started his career as a United States Representative. In this role he investigated Alger Hiss’s possible communist connections. After his time as a congressman from California he became a United States Senator. It was in this early part of his career in the House and Senate that he first gained notoriety. He became known for his cut throat tactics, great intelligence, and undying determination. These characteristics later helped him overcome obstacles in the political world and make his way into the Presidency. Richard Nixon’s early political career as a Representative and Congressman from California set the foundation for his position as one of the most controversial political leaders in American history.

Major Works Consulted:

Gellman, Irwin F. The Contender: Richard Nixon the Congress Years. New York: The Free Press, 1999.
Hopkins, Ellen. Burned. New York: Simon Pulse, 2006.
---.Crank. New York: Simon Pulse, 2004.
Mitchell, Greg. Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady. New York: Random House, 1998.
Photo Credit: Cottey College. 9 October 2008. West Austin, Nevada. (22 March 2009).