Continuity-in-Change in David Almond’s The Savage: Narrative Self-Shaping in Moments of Metanarrative




narrative self-shaping, continuity-in-change, metanarrative, David Almond


David Almond’s The Savage (2008), illustrated by Dave McKean, demonstrates how narrating enables the adolescent protagonist, Blue Baker, to explore themes of loss, grief and bullying in the embedded graphic narrative he creates about a savage boy, a story Blue calls ‘The Savage’. The primary narrative focuses on the interplay between Blue’s behaviour and his thoughts and feelings. Interspersed throughout this self-narrative are Blue’s metanarrative comments regarding his story-creating process. These metanarrative comments not only reveal Blue’s reflections regarding his role as narrator of ‘The Savage’, they are vital for understanding his experience of continuity-in-change. The metanarrative utterances in The Savage – which is ultimately a book about storytelling and illustrating – show Blue engaging in reflective and transformative ‘narrative self-shaping’ (Hutto 2016). Based on narrative medicine, cognitive narratology, age studies and children’s literature studies, this essay underscores that analyses of age-related metanarrative comments can reveal illuminating facets of characters’ coming of age, especially when they engage in creative acts of shaping the self via narratives. Ultimately, this essay shows how narrating tales and sharing stories can be empowering, and this across the lifespan.