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Literature: The Young Warriors

The Young Warriors is a Jamaican novel by author Victor Stafford Reid, published in 1967.

Five teenage boys, members of a band of Maroons (runaway slaves in Jamaica during the 19th to early 20th century) living in the Maroon community of Mountain Top, pass their village's initiation tests for them to be recognized as young Maroon warriors. However, when they go out into the woods for a celebratory hunt as per their custom, they inadvertently discover that the British Redcoat soldiers, nemeses of the Maroons, are patrolling within the area.

What follows is a daring attempt by two of the boys, Tommy and Johnny, to seek aid from a neighboring Maroon band to prevent the Redcoats from learning Mountain Top's location, a mission that doubles in urgency with every passing hour...

The novel was published by Pearson Schools, and is used in Jamaican schools as an English Literature textbook. While the story itself is fictional in nature, it provides a view of the historical facts pertaining to the struggle between the Maroons and the Redcoats in Jamaica.

Tropes present in The Young Warriors:

  • Big Eater: David.
  • Badass Grandpa: Chief Phillip.
  • Batman Gambit: The whole plot to distract the Redcoats while Tommy and Johnny slip through their lines to seek out help from the Mocho Maroons. The later set-up for the Starapple Gully ambush becomes this as well.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The captain of the Redcoat army threatens to do this to Charlie to get both the location of Mountain Top and the plans to summon the Mocho Maroons.
  • Commander Contrarian: Charlie.
  • Chekhov's Skill: David's storytelling ability, used early in the novel to entertain the boys during their night out hunting. It's later used to distract the Redcoats while Tommy attempts to free a captive Charlie.
  • Death Glare: Charlie's father gives him one when he initially fails to answer Chief Phillip's questions during the question-and-answer session of the initial trials. This is largely because the boys have had to study their people's history for some time prior to the day of the trials, and if a boy fails to answer the questions correctly, he has to wait a whole year before he can try again to become a young warrior (and if he fails the second time, he'll never become one).
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Charlie, during the final test in the initial chapters, disobeys the rules of the foot-race by eating food and then turning back without completing the full length of the race.
  • Five-Man Band: The five central protagonists.
  • Full Boar Action: Tommy and Johnny come across a wild boar during their mission, and have to climb a tree to try and escape from him.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: All Maroons are trained to blend in with the forest surroundings to avoid detection; they do this by wearing leaves on their bodies, so that they appear to be small trees when they stand up next to the genuine articles. The five boys use this on one occasion to hide in the open from a Redcoat soldier.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: While all Maroons are trained to have good aim when using knives, slings and bows, Tommy and Uriah get to show their skills during the initiation trials to qualify them as young warriors. In one of the tests, the boys are expected to shoot arrows through four holes that decrease in size with each target; while the other boys either miss the last target or have their arrows damaged while passing through it (in Charlie's case), Tommy manages to get his arrow through all the holes without a problem. In the knife-throwing tests, they have to throw knives at a bull's-eye target and at a naseberry fruit that's been thrown into the air; regarding the second test, Uriah is the only one to send his knife right through the fruit and cause the knife to land on its point.
  • Jerk Ass: Charlie. He matures.
  • Oh, Crap: Tommy and Johnny's reaction on realizing they've stumbled upon a wild boar's den. They quickly scramble to find a tree to climb to get out of the pig's way before he charges out of his hole.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Chief Phillip, and the war captain Dick. Also Chief James of the Mocho Maroons.
  • The Resenter: Charlie is this for much of the novel. He feels that he, not Tommy, should have been selected to lead the boys on their celebratory hunt by virtue of being the oldest and "winning" the hardest of the four initiation tests (Tommy was selected because he won two of the four), and later feels that he, not Tommy and Johnny, should have been sent to find the Mocho Maroons.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: Tommy and Johnny, witnessing Charlie's cheating during the foot-race, keep it to themselves for most of the novel, with Tommy later and briefly revealing this knowledge to Charlie during a Shut Up, Hannibal! moment. It later turns out that Chief Phillip and several of the leading men, including Tommy's father, were well aware of Charlie's cheating from the outset, and Tommy's father knew that his son knew as well.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Those Maroons who have sufficient training can do this. David later utilizes this during his Crowning Moment Of Awesome.

The Wooing of Beppo TateCaribbean Literature    
The Venom BusinessLiterature of the 1960s    

alternative title(s): The Young Warriors
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